Going underground

Today I purchased a day ticket for the Tokyo Metro and set off exploring, armed only with my iPhone subway map. I started off in the Sony Building, mainly slobbering over the 70″ Bravia (a snip at ¥4 million) and the stunningly slim XEL-1 OLED unit. After that I had a shoe shine outside Yūrakuchō station before jumping back on the tube and heading towards Tokyo.

Continue reading Going underground

Big in Japan

Yesterday I took a trip to Akihabara – the electronics center of Tokyo. Gadgets, toys and flashing lights are everywhere there. It is quieter than usual at the moment after the horrific attack last month and the subsequent attack on a policeman a couple of weeks after. All the same, I thought that it was still pretty busy.

Today I met up with a friend and his mum who is over visiting too. After wandering through the gardens of the Imperial Palace this morning and having a sushi lunch on the grass, we tried to go to the Sumo Museum but it’s closed for the week unfortunately. In contrast to the wrestlers themselves it’s very small so it was no great loss. We headed to the nearby Edo-Tokyo Museum as planned. About halfway through the tour a petite Indonesian girl came up and asked me if she could have her photo taken with me purely because I was so tall.

We finished off the day with a bite to eat in Andy’s Shin Hinomoto. I’m not the biggest fan of raw fish. In fact I’m with the school of thought that suggests an alternative name for sushi: “bait”. Even still, the food was very nice. The place was really busy (I’m told that this is as per usual) but we managed to squeeze even though we hadn’t booked. I would suggest you do book if you ever want to go there.

I’ve spent a fair amount of time exploring the streets of Asakusa and had to take in Sensō-ji while I’m here. There has been a scaffolding forest growing around the area around the temple over the past few days. I found out today that this is for the Hozuki Market where 600,000 people are expected today and tomorrow. Apparently praying here on July 10 is the equivalent of praying for 46,000 days.

You can see the attraction.

Sport sport sport sport sport

I returned to the MCG yesterday for a stadium tour and visit to the National Sports Museum. The MCG has 100,000 members, 200 of which volunteer to give the tours. Our guide for the day was a elderly chap named Eric who put his name on the waiting list for membership in 1959. He finally became a member in 1981. Nowadays you can still expect to wait around 21 years and there is a select group of people that have been members for over 50 years. It is not a young demographic.

While on the pitch we were treated to an impromptu bird of prey show as a hawk was exercised to ward off other birds from the stadium. Not a bad idea but it could do with being done on a match day too as the amount of aggressive gulls scavenging was bordering on unsettling. Still, not as bad as Circular Quay in Sydney where I witnessed two separate seagull attacks on people having lunch, swooping down and knocking the food out of their hands.

The museum was obviously extremely biased towards all things Australian. There are special sections for the Olympics, AFL, cricket and an interactive zone where you can test yourself at various sporting activities. In theory at least: it’s the school holidays here and I couldn’t get to try anything.

Considering the plethora of stadia and facilities around the MCG (the Vodafone arena and Rod Laver Arena for instance) and the sterotypical fit, bronzed, Aussie surfer, it came as a bit of a shock to most when Australia took over the mantle of fattest nation on Earth last week.

Blast from the past

I passed a few hours this afternoon at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image where the Game On exhibition is currently underway. I missed this in Edinburgh last year so it was a pleasant surprise to stumble upon it.

I’ve never really been all that into gaming. Mainly, I think, because I was crap and not a big fan of losing. I vaguely remember the children of friends of my parents bringing around their Atari VCS to play with and I can’t have been much older than three. Next up was my neighbours’ ZX81 and my best friends’ Acorn Electron before my first computer which was a Spectrum 128 +2A. I then had a C64 and dreamed of an Amiga with a meg of RAM before moving into the world of the PC.

I ♥ NY

Just as it says on the t-shirt.

I spent lunchtime in Central Park where “passive activities like reading, relaxing, sunbathing and daydreaming are encouraged” and then this afternoon walking around the American Museum of Natural History.

My New York City Pass has finally paid off over the past couple of days with free audio commentary at the Empire State Building and a free pass to the Hayden Planetarium today (with narration by Robert Redford no less). I think I really needed about five hours to walk round the exhibits to give everything the attention it deserved. The last hour was certainly rushed.

Walking around New York with a bag slung over my shoulder sent me back 11 years to my Southwestern Summer but I think the least said about that the better. A large part of my wanderings have been spent in mushin which has really helped to to relax and unwind. As I thought would happen, all my fears and doubts faded away once I was actually on the plane over here.

I didn’t really think that I’d enjoy myself quite this much. Big cities tend to put me on edge somewhat but I haven’t experienced that once while I’ve been here. Admittedly, I’ve not seen much outside Manhattan and Brooklyn but I’ve really liked everything that I have seen.

Standout moments will have to be the “Top of the Rock” observation deck at the Rockerfeller Center, Central Park, the Natural History Museum and randomly talking to a bewildered Jewish grandma over a sandwich on her first visit to a Subway one busy lunchtime.