Today is a bit of an “off day” for me in that it involves a more significant amount of travel, changing home base from Osaka to Tokyo, just for one day, so I can catch my flight early in the morning to Hachijojima for my birthday on the 15th.
After packing up my things, I say my goodbyes to Megumi-san who has been an excellent host for me over the past several days. We have each other’s emails now, so maybe the chance will come for out paths to cross again someday.
I head to Starbucks on my way to the subway and try an American Cherry Pie Frappucino. Japan always has the craziest flavors. It’s good, but it’s not coffee, which is what I really crave. Thankfully you don’t have to walk more than a few hundred meters before you bump into a vending machine that has some for sale.
It’s nearly a three hour bullet train ride to Tokyo after I reach the main station in Osaka. Since this is likely one of the last and the longest bullet train ride I’ll be on this trip, I splurge for a “green seat”. First class basically. Bit more room, cool footrest, very comfy. Added 20% or so to the price I think.
This train ride is the first time that I actually have a real chance to settle in, put on some music, and watch the scenery go by. It’s amazing how my mood shifts from a neutral “I’m sitting on a train” mood to “I am supremely contented” with the addition of some good music (and maybe a cold beer too). I listen to one of the newest Vocaloid albums I bought, translated title is “Unfinished Eight Beats” by the producer Orangestar. The songs are all in Japanese, so I only understand fragments of the songs, but it makes me happy, and I try to cherish the moment while it lasts. It’s probably the most relaxed I’ve felt all trip.
I just realized today there are some videos on youtube with fully translated lyrics. I knew this album as special but now I love it even more. The scenery passes by and I fall into a happy trance for as long as I can make it last.
Also, look it’s Mount Fuji!
My afternoon in Japan isn’t noteworthy as I have to do laundry at the hotel and take care of some housekeeping, but once that’s done, I buy myself a commuter pass for the Tokyo train system and head for the “Times Square” of Tokyo: Shibuya!
It reminds me of both Times Square and the Las Vegas Strip. Lots of people, bright lights, lots of languages, energy abounds. Great to just soak it all in.
It really does remind me of NYC, right down to the street food. I actually buy a kebab from a middle eastern guy on a well positioned street corner and enjoy the calories. I’ve been eating really light here in Japan, and doing a lot of walking, so I’m not surprised if I might be a few pounds lighter at the end of it all.
No time for partying tonight with a 4:30 am alarm set, but I do drop into a used book store and browse their collection of Manga and Music. I try to find a vocaloid CD but the music section is a maze to my untrained eyes, so I settle with a couple japanese manga as gifts for friends back in the states.
Tomorrow I head to Hachijojima to celebrate my 30th birthday! It’s a small island about a 45 minute flight from Tokyo, a bit of a middle of nowhere sub-tropical place to get lost for a day.
Sorry for the short update, but I will do my best to have even more to come.