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securing a late night cancellation
Last thing, after I'd done with the blog writing and stuff (including drinking lots of beer from the ever-present vending machine in the corner), I managed to secure a place for Saturday night, thankfully. I really didn't want to have to move my luggage around only to bring it all back the next day. So, good thing.
akihabara, fit the second, mandarake, mental computer and phone shops, finally discovering what was in the blue rice packages (tuna!)
When I went to Akiba (their pet name for Akihabara) I was convinced that I'd missed something in my quest to find the massively disappointing Tokyo Anime Centre. Turns out that I was right. When I went back I dived into the massive electronics shops and witnessed the craziness of the technology pimps that cover the area. Some of the bigger stores reminded me of a mix between PC World and some kind of mental games expo. After that, I wandered around and found a really cool anime multi-storey shop called Mandarake (sic), filled with fucking amazing toys, games, and everything, everything manga. If I had the space for the 12 inch battloid model I saw, I'd have grabbed it. The backstreets are hives of activity, PC shops, bars, comic shops, some sort of open source convention (unfortunately all in Japanese so I couldn't tell what was going on except that they were saying something about servers.) Much, much better Akiba experience :)
ueno park, cherry blossom ridiculousness, nice pastries and flatbread things from Andersons, amazing hygene for a Greggs!
Not really knowing what to do, I travelled back to Ueno Park which, since it was such brilliant weather, was rammed with people enjoying the sakura. Thousands of people sitting beneath the trees, playing games, drinking, eating, and having fun. I'd got some really nice food from a places called Andersons in Ueno station (which had a nice system of your own tray and own grabbing-tool given on the way in to help yourself to the amazing pastries and flatbreads available), so I chilled out for an hour or so in the park, and completely failed to work out what I'd do next.
asakusa sight seeing bit with tunes on, bowing down to the shuffle, not knowing what to do tonight!
So I ended up in Asakusa afterwards and spent a while looking at the temple, the surrounding market and the shrines spread around the place. Loved it. I really liked seeing the things that people were doing for luck like the wafting of the smoke from a massive iron pot with incense burning in it, and drinking the water from a mini-fountain that spouted water from lots of beautiful dragon sculptures. It was about that time that I started listening to tunes while doing all this, and the Shuffle did its usual trick of providing exactly the right accompaniment (Imogen Heap - Airplane "all alone, all by myself, so free and far away").
I was so tired when I got back that I had to crash out for an hour or so, but I was intent on going out that evening, breaking out the suit jacket and decent shoes. I ended up going on a packed train to Shibuya again, since I figured I might as well just go back to the Pink Cow bar as, although full of Westerners, it seemed reasonably friendly and accessible. Speaking of accessible...
trying to find the Pink fucking Cow again
The map in the Rough Guide To Japan for Shibuya station and surrounds, is COMPLETELY FUCKING USELESS. I spent a full hour trying to find the Pink Cow bar from the map in the guide and I hated every minute of it. Eventually asked directions as I was sick of tramping up and down the same streets as I *knew* that I was near it but just couldn't find the exact street. The entrance to the bar is shrouded in darkness and they have a small bollard on the road to advertise. In the dark. Then you go down some darkened stairs and through a daft looking wall-papered door and suddenly you're in a subdued lighting bar. Very fucked up place. As it was, there was a private party in there, but the no admission rule only applied until 8.30, and it had gone 9.30 by the time I got there. The wedding party were a decent bunch. Some American guy had married a Japanese woman. I got speaking to the bride's brother (his name escapes me) and also a girl called Yuki who was in there distributing flyers about a dance event happening in May. Both really nice people, both politely said that the fact that I could say "I understand Japanese a little, but I'm not very good at it yet" was enough, and a good effort. She had a random story about how at a haiku meeting (I'm not making this up) some drinks company were promoting a mix of cider and chocolate or coffee (I can't remember which) and were calling it "Chider" or something. All very weird but enjoyed meeting them.
The beer I had in there set me up for the ride home which was pretty packed. Shibuya on a Saturday night was utterly insane though, I think, slightly less busy than it was on Friday night.
Got back to Asakusa, stumbled around in the darkness of my new room and top bunk, and slept.