Friday, April 06, 2007

On the Ground in Tokyo. Again

It’s too bad that I don’t get to stay in Asia long enough to learn to not offend the sensitivity of the locals. I got off on the wrong foot right away by boarding the train to town from Narita Airport. It had just come into the station. It was the last stop and everyone on board got off so I got on. And was promptly asked to leave by the cleaning lady. It seems that the train is entirely cleaned after every run. I also can never remember to not offend cashiers in Japan. Here in Japan when one pay one is never supposed to place money into a cashier’s hand. That’s why they have a small tray, hands should never touch. I always forget this like the dumb gaijin that I am. Today I found a new way to play dumb foreigner. I had retained a 160Y subway ticket from my last trip here back in late November 2006. I had read that tickets were good for 6 months. Maybe not, when I tried to exit a station the turnstile refused to let me pass and politely told me to see an attendant. I handed in my delinquent ticket where they guys behind the desk immediately noticed how stale it was. I showed them my new Suica stored value card, it’s much like the Octopus card in Hong Kong and it’s new in Tokyo. With typical Japanese efficiency they took my Suica card, deducted 160Y and sent me on my way to get lost again. I spent much of the day hopping from subway line to train line in a futile effort not to be lost. I was trying to get from Shinjuku to Akihabara but theTokyo Metro Map looks like the floor after somebody dropped a pot of ramen. Anybody who knows me knows that I’m colorblind and even in English some of the stations and lines overlap so I never knew where I was going. My Suica card took a beating today. I think I’m just going to drain it at a 7/11 and tomorrow I’ll just buy an all day pass. But that may not work since Tokyo Metro runs maybe half the train lines, the others (JR, Toei) seem to be private or belong to some other municipal or prefectural agency. They all seem to take my Suica though. Because Blogger knows I'm in Japan it insists on giving me a Japanese interface. That’s why it took a month for this page to appear, I couldn’t find the Kanji equivalent of >Publish< on Blogger. But better late than never here are pictures from this whirlwind trip. Great views of Tokyo from the Tokyo Tower.