Back to the Future

Back in the day, Tokyo was a city ahead of its time, a city of the future. It is still a modern city but its modernity is not the modernity of the future anymore, it is of today.
The most impressive fact about Tokyo is how clean it is, especially striking for a city of this size! You can eat off the floors of the subway cars; elevator walls are sparkling clean and the streets are devoid of any kind of refuse. Also, I just bask in their politeness! If not striking from the tourist point of view, Tokyo is ultimately livable!
Our hotel room is on the 49th floor and from our window, we have a panoramic view of the city – it’s awesome!
Our jet lag is brutal, so we had no problem getting up at the crack of down for the obligatory trip to Tokyo’s famous fish market. We were informed not to bother trying to procure tickets for the tuna auction, as that would require stiff competition with other contenders and, beside, the auction itself was described to me in such a way that it didn’t really sound that exciting. So we just went to the market. The inside market, we were told, was closed to tourists until 9 am as a new measure to allow the fishmongers and their customers do their business in peace. So we milled around the outdoor market with plenty to see and even more to eat (that is, if you dare). When we finally were admitted inside, we beheld a sea of fish and sea creatures of different shapes and sizes. Walking and gawking here was fraught with danger of being run over by one of the numerous motor carts zooming around the market with total disregard for the tourists who happen to be in their way.
The best thing about the market is being able to partake in the freshest sushi there is, in one of the market restaurants. Freshest, even though some fish arrived from Russia, while others – from Boston, USA.
In the restaurant, we landed next to a group of inebriated businessmen from Hiroshima. They toasted us, offered us some sake they were drinking, and sent us a sample of octopus as a gift to me, because, as one of the businessman said, I looked like a model (He also said would also like to take me out, if my husband weren’t nearby:-)  When they were done eating, he walked around to personally say good bye to me, to bow, and to ogle me said husband sitting net to me notwithstanding.
The rest of the day we just walked in the sweltering heat. We visited an older neighborhood north of Ueno, and the crazy Shibuya crossing where a flock of human ants scurries across the intersections following the green man on the walkway sign.
What surprised me is how young the city seems to be. We always hear that Japan is aging. There is no sign of that here. You don’t see too many babies but loads of young girls in the wackiest outfits. Many dressed as dolls, some as goths, rather completely unthreatening little gothlings. The young here have a very distinct sense of style unique to the Japanese. Even without seeing a face, you know they are Japanese from the clothes they wear.
We walked back to the hotel thought Roppongi. This, apparently, a neighborhood popular with expats – western faces abound. During the day, Tokyo’s architecture is a mishmash of different styles – none of them similar to the other. At night, it all blends together into an eye-pleasing wall of balconies and lit up signs. A night walk is pleasant and comfortable in this clean and safe city. Even McDonalds has a lovely outdoor cafe and serves superb cappuccino.
A very civilized city, indeed!.


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