Thursday, September 21, 2006

Countdown to Tokyo - D Minus 2

Desperately Seeking Kaiju

I am pretty sure my itinerary for my whirlwind tour of Tokyo is set, at least the time I will be spending with Nobuyuki, however I am still at loose ends for Monday. I am not 100% sure what time I have to check out of the hotel, however since my flight leaves at 6:10 on Monday I will need to be at Nartia no later than 3:10. I plan on actually getting there earlier since I am going to be storing my larger luggage at the airport itself and as I am not clear on how this whole luggage storage thing works I want to have plenty of time to screw things up and be stuck wandering around the airport for awhile. Since it takes just over an hour to get from the hotel to the airport I will need to leave the hotel at about 1:00. This has the added bonus of meaning that I will only have to deal with lunch rush traffic rather than rush hour traffic, which according to some sources can be pretty horrific on the Tokyo train system.

This means I am left with from whenever I wake up, which I am betting will be early, until 1:00 to get lunch and destroy as much of Tokyo as possible. The three things I would like to do on Monday are:

1. Visit the Sengaku-ji shrine (or here). I have mentioned this place before in my larger contemplation on what to do in Tokyo (here) thus I will not rehash why I want to visit it here however I have conflicting reports about when it opens. According to some sources the temple opens at 9:00 and some at 7:00. If it opens at 7:00 that would be perfect as I would be able to use the trains before rush hour, or at least at the beginning, and then spend some time taking photos in the neighborhood before the shrine opens. I imagine about an hour to ninety minutes is all I am going to need at this shrine as it is a very small one thus with the travel time of about 30 minutes I could be back at the hotel or elsewhere in the city by 9:00 to 9:30.

2. Visit Akihabara. Once Tokyo’s premiere electronics shopping district, this area has been slowly morphing into what is referred to as a geek ghetto. In addition to the electronic stores, manga and anime stores have become more and more prevalent over the years. In addition to the otaku-centric shopping, which I intend to check out if not participate in, Akihabara is (in)famous for being the spot where the cosplay restaurants came to the fore. The most famous version of the cosplay restaurants is the maid, or meido, cafĂ© in which the waitresses are all dressed as maids and refer to the customers as Master. While I have to admit there is a certain appeal to having a Japanese girl dressed in a maid’s outfit refer to me as master, I am more interested in visiting this as an experience as it is so far from anything I can experience here in the U.S. without paying through the nose and/or wandering in to vaguely illegal territory. Judging from the menus I have seen online (here, here, here, here, and here) they might be a good place to pick up lunch. After looking at some of the sites I have to admit that I am a little creeped out by the whole concept however since I have found one where the staff is fluent in English I am still going to check one out.

3. Get my picture taken with Godzilla. (“Ah! GOJIRA!”) Apparently there is a statue of Godzilla located outside the Toei Studios building. What trip to Japan would be complete without a little kaiju action? Not this boy’s! Located a block east of the entrance to Hibiya-koen, a park along the edges of the Ginza district. I am thinking that due to the geography that tracking down the feared and mighty Gojira might be a task to stick in between Sengaku-ji and Akihabara.

Tags: Travel, Japan

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