Sunday, November 20, 2005

Kompasu O Motte Imasu Ka?

Day 2: Monday morning I took the 8am shinkansen (bullet train) to Tokyo. It took a little less than 3 hours and would have cost me around $250 round-trip, had I not spent just that sum on an unlimited 7-day Japan Rail pass (which you can purchase at JTB USA).


Cute little Japanese coke bottle. It got off in Yokohama.

I walked around Ginza (the shopping district) and saw some Louis Vuitton and Prada stores. Over an ice coffee, I tried to map out my walking route across Tokyo. I was planning to walk from Ginza, through Roppongi (the nightlife district), then to Harajuku (the shopping district) and Shibuya (the shopping district), ending in Shinjuku (the shopping district), from where I'd take the subway to Asakusa (one of the oldest neighborhoods in Tokyo, and the site of my capsule hotel). There didn't seem to be any main roads, just a million teeny roads going in all directions. So I hit upon a brilliant solution: I would buy a compass and walk roughly northwest! I cursed myself for not having bought one before leaving the states.

I went into a drugstore and asked the cashier, "Kompasu o motte imasu ka?" ("Do you have a compass?"). She replied, "Kompaktu?" (as in makeup compact, I'm guessing). "Ie, nishi, higashi...", I said ("No, north, east..."). "Kompasu! Ie" ("A compass! No"). Then she pointed me in the direction of the Matsuzakaya department store.

At the Matsuzakaya information booth I asked, "Kompasu o motte imasu ka?" "Ie," the woman said (and for the record, I find it hard to believe that they don't carry compasses in that big department store). She brought out a map of Ginza and started circling places, probably places someone as insane as I should immediately head for, like say the police station, or the nearest mental hospital. I thanked her and moved on. I did not go to the police or the mental institution. I just wanted a kompasu! [*Update: I should have followed that woman's instructions. I just googled the places she circled and it turns out that the police station is actually a stationery store and the mental institution is another department store.]

I went to a third store and asked again, "Kompasu o motte imasu ka?" Something to the effect of "Where do you want to go? I can help," came the reply. Sigh. Unfortunately, my Japanese is not at the level where I can communicate things like, "My problems are so great you could never attempt to solve them in this lifetime." Instead I just smiled and left. I gave up on the kompasu and just took the subway. (I did finally find a compass in Kyoto, but of course I didn't need one anymore. I still bought it, just in case.)

Chikatetsu (subway).

I took the subway to Omotesando, the Champs Elysées of Tokyo.

Omotesando stop.

I passed a game parlor. And no, Baji, I did not play the dancing game.

I had a snack.

Tokyo fashions on Omotesando, the shopping boulevard.

Tenuous evidence that I was here.

More evidence that I was here. Still tenuous.
This is my private internet cubicle in the women-only wing of an internet cafe.


This guy had great hair.

Still Shibuya. Still great hair.

This woman reminds me of someone.

I took the JR line (free! thank you, JR Rail pass!) to Shinjuku, didn't like the look of it, went back to Shibuya. There a miracle occurred: I showed a lost American tourist how to get to Shinjuku. I'm surprised the apocalypse didn't happen right at that moment. Turns out I am subway smart, but not street smart.

I took the subway to Asakusa, and checked into my capsule hotel, the Hotel Asakusa Riverside. I had to leave my boots in a locker downstairs.

Yeah, that's right.

Me in my hotel-issued pajamas.

The capsules.

My capsule (the green slippers are mine).

My neighbor down the capsule way.

Inside the capsule.

Coming up: the long-awaited monkeys, too many breakfasts and fish who make bad jokes.


baj said...

i cannae believe you didn't dance.
i can believe you ate those dumplings.
i cannae believe you didn't take a pix of that compass that caused you so much strife and anguish.
i can believe you would sleep in that little cubbyhole of a hotel. THAT'S AWESOME! did you feel claustrophobic at all?

Blanqui said...

No, it was lovely, like sleeping on a train! Very cozy.

suite-e-pi said...

this is Jenny C -- did the capsule hotel have a shower? Could you leave your stuff in your capsule?

Blanqui said...

Hi Jenny,

There was a communal shower on another floor. The capsules were all open (closed only by a curtain). You probably could leave your stuff in there, but you never know... If I recall correctly, there were lockers downstairs though. You had to leave your shoes in the locker and you could probably leave other stuff in there too.

Anonymous said...

...please where can I buy a unicorn?

Blanqui said...

Anon, I wish I knew! Good luck with your unicorn search.

BIT said...

Probably just looking for a manticore, it's the same in Japanese - isn't it?
Aisle 7