If you are seeing this now, it means that …

November 5, 2006

… I have worked out a way of handling the tremendous flow of work that we have had to do at school, as well as leaving time for sight-seeing, shopping etc on the weekend, and also leaving time to write to you here and tell you what I’ve seen and done.

This new-found free-time coincided yesterday with my first addition to Japan’s already monstrous national debt, thanks to my student scholarship. So I had both free time and disposable money – lookout Tokyo.

Not letting time weigh on our hands, my friend Jess, the Finance woman from Malaysia, and I were able yesterday to go on a shopping expedition into one of the more central parts of Tokyo. (There isn’t really a ‘centre’ of Tokyo, not that I’ve found, anyway – it seems too large for that.) First we visited Shibuya, which is teenybopper-punkster-shopping addict territory. We spent a lot of time getting lost looking around for the shops, and then when we found them looking around inside. Our confusion was probably caused by the sheer numbers of people who were in Shibuya. It was as though everyone in Tokyo had decided to catch the train there, at the same time. You can’t imagine the crowds.

Unfortunately, Shibuya didn’t appear to have any electronics stores. So we struggled our way through the crowds to the train station and travelled a couple of stops up the line to Shinjuku, which is another, but more ‘mature’, shopping mecca. Here I was able to find a very affordable Canon Ixus 70 digital camera, and Jess was able to find what is called an ‘electronic dictionary’ – a small computer that will sit in your hand while you ask it to translate English words and phrases into their Japanese equivalents, or vice versa.

Only one sight of any significance. You may have heard about Japan’s right-wing political groups driving round Tokyo in Toyota Taragos haranguing the crowds with speeches played at blistering volume levels. I met my first one yesterday. He had stopped outside one of the exits from Shinjuku station, and, dressed in his suit, was standing on top of his van, which had a Japanese flag attached to its side. He was haranguing the hordes of shoppers, all of whom walked past without stopping to listen.

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