Jun 14, 2006

Yosoko Japan

Japan - The Land of Rising Sun!

Sitting besides the window in The Maharaja, I was thinking of encounters I'm going to make for the next 6 weeks, which ultimately were extended to 8 months (more on that later). Though I've been to Osaka during transit, but the the real world is beyond the airport walls (or glass for Osaka). So there I was going to Tokyo and was excited to be in the land of Samurai and Gizmos. I was about to be in the place where everything will be miracle and sci-fi. After all who won't be awed by the the Tokyo footages shown on the TV (which always is one of the three locations in Tokyo - Shibuya or Shinjuku or Ginza).

But the Dreams were shattered immediately after keeping the foot on NARITA INTERNATIONAL. Though everywhere there are signboards in English, but I bet you'll agree with me that whichever be the place, you need to ask the people for directions if you're visiting it for the first time. And this is a place where still most of the educated people don't know the Royal language. But in the begining itself I would like to give more than full marks to the Japanese society - These guys try to help you out - genuine help. At the Airport Limo counter, all you've to do is present the address and they'll let you know the nearest hotel where the Limo will drop you off! I took a cab from the hotel to my apartment where the next shock was awaiting me.

As I entered the apartment, I remembered Arshad Warsi from Munnabhai MBBS - "Bhai yeh room to shuru hote hi khatam ho gaya'. Due to space crunch, the mansions and apartments in Tokyo are very very small (I could touch the opposite walls of a room while straightening up). So my dear friend, if you've been to USA's of the world, do curb your expectations.
If you're not blessed enough and are going without any known soul in that place, you can rely on McD, Pizza Hut, 7-11, Laswson for food till you start hating every item on the menu starting with P and B.

Slowly and steadily you start to appreciate the amount of thinking gone behind any task. Traveling in Tokyo is not a thing to crib! Beautiful mesh of trains cover the entire city with a station within 1km or radius at any point. You can top up your mobile and use it at any station and some of the vending machines. Inside the train, a screen above every door shows the next station, the connecting trains and the door which will open - mihi (right) or hidari (left). One will also notice the escalators and width of stairs is dependent on the number of people passing through it! Another observation was that the airconditioners are nearby gates because that is the place where most of the people stand. For each platform, a different sound is used to notify the arrival and closure of gates of the train.

Tokyo has various options for food-lovers (if you are OK with non-veg). Ranging from Sushi and Soba to Italian and Indian - everything is available. Though you gotta try Japanese Pizza(Okonomiyaki) and should go for Yakitori. There are various places around Shibuya and Shinjuku. If tired or sad, you can dish out your frustrations at Roppongi. The area is frequented by foreigners (everyone speaks english here) and houses various clubs and bars.

April is the month of Cherry blossoms and Sumos. Japanese enjoy the cherry blooms and organize drinking parties under the cherry trees. Again due to the space issues, it might be the case that you're having a can of beer, under the cherry tree, in a large cemetry! But in and all a pleasant experience. Sumo is the Japanese form of wrestling. Sumo has its roots in the shinto religion. The matches were dedicated to the gods in prayers for a good harvest. The wrestling match is all about pushing or throwing the opponent out of the doyo - the ring - or to bring the other guy down on the floor. There are 6 grand Sumo tournaments each year. The highest ranking is 'Yokozuna'.


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