I slept virtually the entire bus ride from Kyoto to Tokyo. Which is a good thing, because when it dropped Peder and I off on the street in Roppongi, neither of us had any idea where we were staying. And we probably had about 115 kilos of luggage between us.
First things first. We subwayed to Shibuya, set up camp in the seating area of a nearby department store, and took turns roaming the streets in search of some appropriate lodgings. When traveling alone I almost always stay at one of two hostels – but in groups of two a hotel can sometimes be a better and only marginally more expensive alternative.
We ended up at Hotel Fukudaya, the same Ryokan where I stayed the first night I ever spent Japan, in June of 2003, on vacation with one of my oldest friends Nick. Talk about Nostalgia.
Man, making my way up there from Shibuya station with all that luggage was one of the most hellish walks I’ve ever done. It couldn’t have been more than one kilometer, but it still felt like I lost six inches of height from compressing my knees under all that weight. I arrived DRIPPING sweat, every part of my body sore.
Peder looked pretty much the same.
What should we do?
We headed straight to Hachiko Crossing where we met up with Jing-Jing and proceeded to Lockup (described here) for dinner. Sadly, we missed the last “Showtime” of the day so Peder wasn’t able to get the full Halloween experience. Maybe next time.
After dinner we joined one of JingJing’s friends, Naomi, and spent the remainder of the evening walking around socializing with the countless street crowds before heading home and turning in early.
We had a big day ahead of us.
We had reservations at G-Cans.
G-Cans was probably the only tourist attraction in the Tokyo area still on my to-do list, something I’d wanted to see for nearly a year. Since it requires reservations well in advance I just never made it until now.
It’s an enormous series of subterranean caverns and tunnels, built as an emergency flood-control system for Tokyo. I first heard of it via
this commercial, and started doing some research. The photos I found, such as this, were the closest thing to an alien sci-fi landscape I’d ever seen. It reminded me of something right out of Total Recall. I simply had to go.
So on our first morning in Tokyo, Peder and I woke up with plenty of time to take the train out of the dense city and to the main underground chamber of G-Cans. Or so we thought. Apparently the map we were given was less than accurate, making a 3km walk look like it’s only 3 blocks. We had to sprint the entire way from the station, which was harder than it may sound considering how sore my legs were from the previous day of walking around with three stories of luggage piled on my back.
We got there 5 minutes late but thankfully were still able to take the tour.
G-Cans itself, although truly an engineering marvel, didn’t appear quite as spectacular in person as I’d anticipated. The more amusing part of the day actually turned out to be the tour itself, for a few reasons…
1) In typical Japanese fashion, there were SO MANY UNNECESSARY RULES it was just ridiculous. Just hearing the list of rules probably took close to as long as the tour itself.
2) The tour guide’s speech was more robotic than anything I’ve ever heard come out of a human being.
3) The way they said “pump” in カタカナ (ポンプ) was hilarious and we just couldn’t stop laughing. The tour sounded like “Japanese – japanese – japanese – japanese – POMPU!!! – japanese – japanese – japanese – POMPU!
4) These people were so excited about their tunnel stuff they just couldn’t get enough of themselves. Yes, it is quite a feat what they’ve constructed there. But they probably had 50 different explanations – video, written, audio, tour guide – of the exact same material: how amazing G-Cans is, how it works, and how it prevents flooding.
Yeah, we got it!
Pretty amusing. 😛
After the tour ended we walked leisurely back to the train station, showered, and headed once again into the heart of Shibuya for a party that I only hoped could live up to my expectations.
The Japan Lair.