Tokyo: Day 1

What an eventful first day in Tokyo for me, on top of my earlier brush with a Chinese jerk at Narita airport.

Prior to arriving in Tokyo, i thought i would find relief from the Singapore heat and humidity. I was dead wrong. Tokyo was just as humid and probably no cooler than Singapore. I felt i could almost cut through the humidity – made worse by the occasional rain – with a knife. I was sweating like a pig walking through the busy streets in Shinjuku. In no time, my body was feeling uncomfortably sticky. Every so often, i would intentionally wander into air-conditioned shops like the enormous Muji store and Kinokuniya bookstore to cool myself down. I forgot to purchase a guide book for Tokyo while i was in Singapore so i thought it may be possible to get something similar at the Kinokuniya bookstore. No such luck: everything in the bookstore, including the foreign section, was in Japanese.

In no time, i was completely lost in the bustling streets and bright lights of Shinjuku. The crude map provided by the hotel offered not much help in determining my location. For the majority of the time, i was just wondering around aimlessly. Somehow, i made it to the Kabuki area. Several guys were trying to persuade me to visit their “fine” establishments but as soon as i opened my mouth revealing that i spoke no Japanese, some of them lost interest. I walked into an English pub after noticing what appeared to be an American guy drinking alone in there. I wanted to figure out where i was and i figured that he may be able to offer me some help. Turned out, i was right and he was from Dallas and has been living in Tokyo for the past six years. While we were chatting, things started shaking. I was puzzled initially, not knowing what was going on. Larry later confirmed my suspicion that it was an earthquake. I did not find out later that this earthquake registered at 6.9 magnitude on the Richter scale. From what i could tell, there did not appear to be any damage or injury. By the time i walked out of the pub, everything was back to normal like nothing had happened.

In addition to experiencing difficulty in getting directions, i found myself having an equally hard time in ordering food. Following the recommendation of a hotel staff, i walked across Meiji street to a below-ground restaurant called Shita Tsuzumi. The menu was in Japanese. Other than a few Kanji (Chinese) characters sprinkled here and there, i really was not clear how each item was going to be prepared. The problem was compounded by the fact that the waiter spoke no English. Eventually, i managed to order two types of chicken Yakitori and a grilled pork dish. They all turned out to be very tasty.

Shita Tsuzumi menu
Shita Tsuzumi menu.

Two types of chicken Yakitori
Two types of chicken Yakitori.

Grilled pork with salad.
Grilled pork with salad.

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