Nothing can keep me from sleep, except for the fact that I don't know if I'll be going home tomorrow. I do manage to lay around, having weird dream flashes about highjackers - who would have guessed? It's finally not raining in the morning - here's touristy pictures from the hotel window. After working on the site for a while, Patrick calls me.  We're going to Akihabara (to quote from a brochure - "Tokyo In The Heart Of The Electronics Goods"), meeting John and Hojo there.

I make a reservation for the airport bus for Sunday, and then also change my hotel to go to Tuesday - just in case.  I meet Patrick, and we take the subway to the JR Line - a Tokyo rail line.  Just regular passenger rail, no groovy high-speed stuff.  We only go one stop, anyway.

And then we're there.

Photo by Patrick Wong

This is more like it.  This is the Japan of Black Rain, and the primogenitor of Bladerunner, and origin of countless other media images.  There's way more people about, and lot's of consumer electronics.  Waaaa-who! Sadly, Hojo has had to bail, which is very, very bad. John and Patrick are great guys, but they're neither one speaks Japanese - but they look like they should.  I was kind of depending on Hojo for translation services.

We wander about for several hours, looking at everything.  I could spend every penny I had here, without any trouble whatsoever. I try to focus - get a new battery for the laptop (done!), try to find some Japanese movies like Wild Zero (failed), and Neon Genesis Evangelion Final (found it, but Japanese language only, so - pass), and investigate a zoom lens for my digital camera (half price - ding!).  How about a cheap Palm Pilot - oh. Japanese only.  Pass.  There's another model shop - way, way cheaper.  They have the indoor helicopters, too. And the SuperFine airbrush.  25% cheaper!   ^$%(*&).  Oh, well.

John has not had breakfast, so at about 2:30 we go to - Mister Donut.  I do have the curry one, and it's really good. The chocolate ones are a little bland, but not bad.  I mention that the drink menu is not what it is in a Tim Horton's, causing John to wax rhapsodic for a while.  Canadians, eh?

As you can see in the above pictures, the streets have been closed (mostly) to vehicle traffic.  But we are in Japan, where motorcycles are a way of life.  Inside the blocked-off pedestrian area are hundreds of bikes. Patrick and I saw a Harley-Davidson FLH, which had electric fans mounted on the cylinders.  I've never seen that modification before, but for in-city/heavy-traffic use it makes a lot of sense. The streets and sidewalks are lined with bicycles, mopeds, scooters and motorbikes. The scooters can look like tiny Gold-Wings, and the motorbikes range from 50cc mini-bikes, to the aforementioned HD's.  Most bikes are 250-500 cc, lightly sporty, and no fairings.  Very practical.  Many sport Coleman-cooler-sized boxes on the back. In the left picture, notice that the helmet on the closest bike has a Canadian flag.  I didn't notice that until preparing the photo for this page.



Patrick leaves us to go swimming, and John and I return to the office.  I, to make calls to Air Canada, charge the new battery, check e-mail, and do this fine page you're reading right now.  John has bought some computer joysticks for his staff to use testing Fighter Ace, so he wants to check them out. Since it's light, and not raining, here's a couple of photos of notable buildings near the office.  Tokyo Tower (left) has been destroyed in so many Godzilla movies it's not even funny.  On the right, the NOA building (who is NOA?  Don't know, nor does anyone I ask), believed by many to be the ugliest building in Tokyo.  Or at least their area.

So now I'm going to put up this page, go have supper, and pack.  I expect my next chance to update won't come until Sunday night, Toronto time. Good luck to me, and hope if I have to have a seatmate, that they're smaller than me. At least the flight back is only 12 and 1/2 hours.

Final image for this day: Tokyo car park.

For dinner, I suggest that we go to the Italian place John has been suggesting since the beginning.  We trundle off, but what I'm not aware of is that this place is in Rappanogi.  If I thought the alleys behind the hotel were, um, colourful, this is downright stereotyped. There's black Mercedes driven by Japanese thugs in white suits - Patrick says the white suit is the uniform of the Yakusa. We discuss for some time the usefulness of having a uniform for criminal activity.  But the talk ceases as we go through a group of white-suited toughs.  The other thing here is the preponderance of black men - i.e. more than zero.  They all seem to be strip-show hawkers.

I like the Italian place, although the service could kindly be described as "glacial".  I have the fixed menu - sweet potato soup, fettuccini Bolognese and beef something.  The use of local vegetables and spices lends an exotic taste to familiar dishes.  I start yawning half-way through, and by 11:00 Patrick and I are on our way back to the hotel, incident-free.