After a crazy night, we figured we keep in chill today since tomorrow would be the hike on Mount Fuji. Being hungover for a literal mountain climb es no bueno.
So instead, we wanted to do some sightseeing around Tokyo, and the best place to start would be the Imperial Palace with its humongous gardens. To get there, again, we would have to use the subway system; we were practically experts at the Tokyo metro now, might as well be locals. Yeah sure, we still looked and were confused at the station and felt we were in everyone’s way. The locals have their plans in mind tracked out completely and fully, like the myriad of trains that are always on time.
The weather in Japan right now is incredibly hot and humid, I can’t emphasize that enough. It really reminds me of Houston without, you know, being a terrible place. Sorry Houston. I looked like such a foreigner (gaijin); I was absolutely drenched in sweat. One thing I noticed is that I possibly have genes that must make me sweat a lot easier than literally everyone else around me. I mean, I’m a big runner so maybe that was a contributing factor to the gallons of water exerting all over the place. All the locals had a handkerchief to wipe away the sweat; I assume they are used to being soto (outside in Japanese) so they know how to handle themselves. Meanwhile back home in America, we constantly travel via car, so always reeving up the sweet, sweet air conditioning. You don’t know how nice air conditioning is until you are forced to walk around for transportation.
Using my GPS, we navigated our way to the Imperial Palace. I’ll say though, I’m so glad that I have free data and texting in Japan via Sprint, but god damn, the GPS tracking on my phone here is utter garbage. It takes a few moments for our position to update, it’s usually off by a few meters, and you don’t know which direction you are facing. This is one of many problems of the millennial: over reliance on our phones and tech. Our spatial intelligence has “gone full retard”. (I’m not actually saying the R-word, I’m quoting Tropic Thunder, so I’m not breaking any PC Fascist rules right now). Sadly, when arrived at the entrance to the Imperial Palace, the place was closed! It had a sign of when it was open, and it was closed the day before (Monday), but another sign and barrier stated it was closed today. Incredibly frustrating and disappointing because it looked to be a magnificent place. At the very least, still managed to snag a few photos of the outside. The palace is huge and surrounded by a large moat.
We decided to do the next best thing, well the next closest thing, the Museum of Modern Art. The plan was to see the Imperial Palace, then check out the Modern Art Museum, and then the Science Museum, which were all in the same area. We circumnavigated the Imperial Palace which was a good 15 minute walk in probably 90+ degree weather and 100% humidity. I need to look at my 23andMe DNA profile again to see if I’m just predisposed to having my own personal splash zone.
Once arriving at the Modern Art Museum, the place was closed as well! Great luck right? I did a little research and the day before (Monday, July 16th), is a national holiday, Marine Day. It’s to celebrate how important the sea is to Japan, which makes incredible sense since all the food and culture of the island nation is derived from the ocean’s resources. I respect the holiday, but man, I wish I had known about the holiday to schedule around it. Then again, today was not the holiday, it was the day after so shit should be open Tokyo!
My entire shirt was covered in sweat now and I accepted that this is my life now. My name is Sweat Boi, nice to meet you. But we had one last chance, the Science Museum. As we approached it using my shitty GPS system, everything was looking green, the bridge to it was available, the stairs were available, and my hope was still available. And success! The museum was open and ready for business. I still had the awkward problem of my shirt being completely soaked, so I rushed over to the bathroom and took it off in a stall. I waved my shirt up and down helplessly to get it to dry up quicker. It seemed pointless, but at least I was in a nice cool place.
We paid our admission ticket and went in to see what Japanese science is all about. I mean, science is universal, but to see what they value in science and put on display was interesting. The first exhibit was a manufacturing one, which makes a lot of sense. The Japanese are known for their efficient manufacturing skills and even have an exclusive manufacturing term that is internationally known to engineers, “Kaizen”, which translates to “improvement”. At my time at UTSA as an engineering undergrad, I had heard that term tossed around a few times; makes sense since there’s an actual Toyota plant in San Antonio.
The science museum was cool to experience, but it’s a bit hard to fully enjoy if you don’t know the language. They had English guides, but I was too impatient to match up the guides with the exhibits and what not. I just preferred interacting with the exhibits. They had exhibits that ranged from telecommunications, information technology, civil engineering, physics, pharmaceuticals, and even perception/illusions. The illusions exhibit was particularly fun; even the escalator to the exhibit had the audio illusion that makes you think that the music keeps increasing in frequency, but it’s on a loop. Hard to explain, just look up audio illusions on YouTube, dear reader. I don’t know why I didn’t take to many photos of the science museum, maybe because I was so over everything, considering the sweat and all the places being closed. But I did manage to snap the panorama with the mirrors. Being a narcissistic guy, I naturally wanted to see an infinite amount of images of myself.
It was cool to see the museum, but really, it was a place for kids. It contained a lot of interacting exhibits, and didn’t really have too much cutting edge technology like I expected. But that’s on me for assuming as such since I didn’t know any prior research on how it would be like.
Also the museum had this derpy-ass picture of a baby that looks like it was straight out of a Tim and Eric skit. I couldn’t resist taking a picture of it. And mind you, I did NOT do any post editing on this flattering drawing, it’s all warped via artistic intent.
Next thing we decided to do was to check out Tokyo Tower, which is a tall telecommunications building in Tokyo. You can take an elevator all the way to the top to the observation deck and see all of Tokyo from about 800 feet elevation. The structure reminded me a bit of the Eiffel Tower, obviously, but adored with the colors of Japan, aka (red) and shiro (white).
Went to admissions, picked up our kippu (ticket) and waited in line for the elevator up. Oh, did I forget to mention I was again covered in sweat?Yup, another dirty and sweaty gaijin at a tourist location. The Japanese hostess who would give us a little touch screen device that provided a guided tour of the tower looked and me and said in a heavy Japanese accent, “Hot?” and I became a bit embarrassed and flustered and said, “Very”.
It was nice to have the guided tour thingamajig because it was all in English and I could easily understand what was going on around me. The device also seemed to have some sort of location identification; whenever we moved from place to place the device would pick up where we were and provided information. Technology!
I took a bunch of photos up in the observation deck, obviously. Here I chose the best ones for your viewing pleasure. I have no idea what I was looking at up there, but it looked pretty.
Now was time for dinner, and thinking ahead, it was best that we had a heavy, carb loaded, monster meal for the upcoming intense hike. We’ve been eating pretty healthy here in Japan, with the serving sizes much smaller than American servings, surprisingly literally no one. But it was time to eat like, well Americans do. Yelp came to help and provided us with a ramen place in Roppongi, which per quick google search away is supposed to be another seedy part of Tokyo that used to cater to a bunch of American GIs back in occupation after World War II. The reviews for the place were good and the walking distance wasn’t too bad, just a breezy twenty minutes away. I was already expecting to sweat more anyways, so why not another twenty minutes to cap off the day?
During the walk, I noticed that the further we walked into Roppongi, the police presence started increasing exponentially. Cops up and down the street, street barriers that could instantly be expanded or retracted to stop anyone from coming or going. Armored trucks that could hold multiple prisoners or VIPs for transport. The security in Roppongi was not for the reasons you might think per the prior paragraph. The place was littered with international embassies, and the one that really caught my eye was, surprise, the Russian Federation Embassy. I quickly looked around to see if Moscow Donny AKA the Orange Russian AKA Putin’s Puppet was scheming nearby. This thing was decked out with security, high walls with spikes, you could barely see the actual building. I didn’t snap a picture of it as I didn’t know if I would get “Casino-Royale-ball-knocking-torture scene” and all these beautiful and wonderful photos would be in the hands of the KGB.
We were near the restaurant per shitty GPS, but couldn’t find it. In retrospect, it was an authentic Japanese ramen restaurant, so no English words were going to be available out on the storefront. We just saw some little models of ramen bowls and stepped on in. The entire menu was in Japanese and Google Translate does not make the cut unfortunately. You see, Japanese can be read from left to right as well as up to down, so the programming on Google Translate doesn’t automatically know what orientation the language is going. I later found out you can select the orientation, but it was too late for me. But even still, it’s not the best translation so I didn’t bother with it. Luckily there are pictures in the menu and we pointed at the one we wanted. And oh boy, this ramen bowl was so delicious. It was the seafood bowl and the sauce that you see in the photo was in its own separate bowl, and you guessed it, you mix it yourself. It was a lot of noodles, even for this fat boi and I was nice and full once it was all down. A great way to end our third day.