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1. The best-laid plans...

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Why is it that I wake up early only on Sundays? <laugh> I was out of bed by 6 o' clock. Checked my mail. No reply from Tomoko yet, so I decided to shop instead. Sent another note to her cellphone telling her I was heading off and that I'm planning to go to Tokyo again two weeks from now.

... So I went off. =) I was on the train to Harajuku when I realized I couldn't stand being _this_ close to Shinjuku and not actually going there. Shinjuku! Skyscrapers. Packed train station. Cyberpunk. I was thinking of just going there for the train station, actually. ;) Shinjuku gets infamously crowded during rush hour. Not that I was expecting rush hour at 8 on a Sunday morning, but hey. =)

I discovered there that it doesn't pay to get up early, as most shops don't open until 11. Fortunately there were a few small cafes near the wickets. I ordered a set breakfast: toast, soft-boiled egg, potato, and coffee (which I changed to lemon tea)...

As the first (real) stop on my itinerary was more of a teenager's place and I didn't think people would be going about in full costume early Sunday morning, I decided to head to a park near Shinjuku station. Walked around, tried the slides ( =) Kid! ), enjoyed the air, marvelled at how even their homeless people have uniformly blue makeshift housing...

On my way back to Shinjuku station, I encountered a tour group going into the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building. I lined up behind them and went up to the South Observatory. Surveying the Tokyo landscape, I realized just how small a city Manila is. Tokyo stretches as far as the eye can see. Tokyo's not a city that sprawls--no, it covers, floods, fills. But even though the city stretched from horizon to horizon (or slightly less than horizon--were those mountains I saw in the distance?), the trees made it look less frightening. There were a few lush parks here and there, too. Tokyo feels spacious, actually--at least the places I've been to.

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building also has a tourist information center, and I went there to pick up a few maps. The center has a few free Internet terminals, and I thought of looking up Kathy's poi shop. I copied the address into my iPAQ, making sure I had the correct street address. Japanese street addresses are notoriously uninformative, so I wanted to be prepared.

On the way I wondered if then might not have been a good time to buy the one-day pass, but for some reason, I decided not to. (Sacha: next time instinct kicks in like that, it might be a good idea to listen to it...)

I headed off to Itabashi to find Kathy's poi shop. I must've circled thrice before giving up. Foolish me hadn't thought to copy the phone number as well. I took the train back to Shinjuku, trekked all the way back to the tourist information center, copied the address, called the shop, went back to Itabashi, called the shop again, and finally got fetched at the station by one of of the shop attendants. <laugh>

It was so much fun at that shop. I stayed for longer than I intended. The guy was really good at poi! I took a short video. =) You gotta love a shop that has a bin full of practice poi just for fun.

... and, of course, I bought stuff. Officially for Kathy, but I should probably practice with them while in Japan... ;) So, Kathy: you have a fire staff. I had hoped to get a long stave with 10cm wicks, but the only size with new stock was the 1m staff. I figured you'd prefer the 10cm wicks over the 5cm wicks. I also picked up a pair of LED poi. =) Each poi uses 2 AA batteries, so we'll be able to use standard rechargeable batteries. Yay!

The maps I picked up from Shinjuku showed me that the main Kinokuniya store was near Shinjuku Station, so I decided to go there and spend some time checking out the test preparation books. I bought a self-study book for level 3 of the Japanese Language Proficiency Test I'm taking this December. I also bought the first volume of Fruits Basket, checking to make sure it had furigana. I remembered liking the anime series. The manga version might be even more fun.

From Shinjuku, I went to Akihabara. I wandered around looking at electronics. Couldn't find a stylus for my iPAQ, though, as the stores I visited didn't stock accessories for my version. I bought a pretty 128MB USB 1.1/2.0 flash disk. It looks like a piece of jewelry. It even comes with a silvery chain. http://www.airlinktek.com or http://www.usbanydrive.com for technical support. I hope the housing's going to last, though; the edges are a bit scary. But it's pretty! And it works with Linux! (mount -t vfat /dev/sda /your/favorite/mount/point) I wonder if Mom would like one...

Didn't buy anything else in Akihabara. (Wow!) The walkie-talkies cost around 10,000 yen each, so I don't think it's worth buying just for the convenience of being able to disappear. We'll just have to agree to meet back at certain places frequently.

Dropped the Tokyo Tower sunset from my itinerary, as it was already somewhat late. Decided to go to Harajuku instead. Must remember not to believe that Discovery features show typical (Sun)day, as most people were rather ordinarily dressed. Did find many strange shops, though, including those that stocked all sorts of costumes and those with all sorts of accessories. Tempted to buy headband with cat-like ears from the accessory store with a Halloween display. Also dropped by Chicago, a thrift shop near the station. Was looking for trenchcoats. Didn't like any of the ones there. Looked at the kimonos, too. A full set will cost around 10,000, but then again, what'll I really do with one? Am thinking of going to one of those maiko/geiko photo studios next time am in Tokyo, as the packages look quite tempting. Might need to wait for my skin to clear up first, as currently have large pimples. Whoops. Must hurry, as promo is only until end of September.

On way home, discovered that there was a comic art exhibition that afternoon. Whoops. Oh well. Couldn't be bothered to figure out exactly where it was, anyway. Also discovered that the International Performing Arts Festival started today. Whoops. This is different from the Street Performers Festival (May). No venue given, though, so will have to call sometime.

Total fare came to juuuust under the cost of the JR Holiday Pass that would've given me free access to local and rapid JR trains, including the train between Tokyo and Yokohama. Guess it all worked out, although all the station-hopping burned originally-calculated margin. My fault--inefficient!

Picked up a copy of the inn and ryokan guide. Am thinking to visit Kyoto / Osaka / Nara to see old structures. Most of these will be temples, though. Hmm. Would definitely like to stay at a ryokan (Japanese-style inn) sometime, though. Western-style hotels are more expensive and less interesting. Maybe a hot spring trip... >giggle<