Friday, October 21, 2005

Asia Dispatch Week: Oh No, There Goes Tokyo

Filed Friday, 10/21/2005, 11:48 AM by Kirin Sapporo
Location: Upper West Side, Manhattan
Photo: Kirin Sapporo

Most of you probably know much about Tokyo already; it's like any other big city. Like London or Paris, it has its own distinct culture, yet it shares the same universal stamp of commercialism that you'll find everywhere.

And I'll say it again: we have more to fear from Starbucks than we think.

One thing I noticed is that the Japanese are getting taller. In the past, any time a girl who was 5'7" or taller walked down the street, people would stare with the same kind of amazement and fear that you'd expect if Godzilla were barreling toward them. But nowadays it's not uncommon to see twenty-something guys and girls pushing toward the 5'9", 5'10" range.

Another thing that I noticed is that, in some cases, they're more hip than we are. Some of the people roaming around the streets of Tokyo rock the hipster look better than your average Williamsburg fauxhemian.

Spent a day at Tsukiji, the famous fish market where much of the imported tuna you'll find in sushi restaurants is bought and sold. There are (not surprisingly) many sushi restaurants in the neighborhood, all relatively cheap. I looked for the tiniest, shittiest-looking one I could find, hoping that it would be the most authentic. I ate a full sushi platter at one with buttery toro for less than $15. The knife skills were wanting, but the fish was undeniably fresh off the boat. For the first time, I could safely say that New York is more expensive than Tokyo.

Ate ramen noodles at a truck stop during a side trip up north one day. Best damn noodles I ever ate.

Also felt the earthquake on Wednesday night. Was eating at a restaurant when everything began to sway. For those of you who have never felt an earthquake, it's kind of like hitting turbulence in a plane, but it's a smoother, more side-to-side movement that sort of dies down gradually and comes in waves. It didn't seem like a big deal at the time, but apparently it was above a 6.0 which is considered fairly strong.

So with my eating done, shopping done, sightseeing done, and all the obligatory family visits done, I boarded a plane to head back to New York. The 12 hour flight seemed relatively quick in comparison to my trip to Singapore. I arrived at JFK and immediately reverted back to New Yorker mode, pushing my way through the crowds and complaining about the traffic.

It's good to be home.


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