ANDY FISH is a comic book artist

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

A Gaijin Visits Japan Part III: Starbucks and 24 Hour Bookstores

24 hour bookstore!
Coming out of my coma around 2am I find Veronica managed to make her way to the hotel too-- thats good.  But now I'm awake.  I walk up the winding staircase of our hotel room to the huge open window area above us then out onto the huge outdoor deck which overlooks the city.  In America we'd have wrought iron fences to prevent jumpers but here in Japan I'm standing at a wall that's barely four feet tall 22 stories above Tokyo.

Luckily across the street from our hotel is a 24 hour bookstore-- yes, open 24 hours a day the perfect thing for the jet lagged traveler.

The first thing I'm going to have to get used to is to look to the right before I cross the street, like our British friends they drive the wrong way here.  Despite the fact that all of their cars and trucks are pint sized, I still don't want to get run over.

I wander the bookstore for a couple of hours as the sun rises over the city, and I decide to explore a bit. It's warm.  Much warmer on this October morning than it would be back home, and unfortunately I didn't pack shorts.

One of the things I find extremely interesting is the method of paying for things in Japan.  You don't hand your money to the cashier, instead you place it in a little plate and they do the same with your change.  If you try to hand it to them they defer to the plate.

I wander a few blocks, crossing the bridges that go over the crazy traffic racing by even at this hour and catch more than one person staring at me.  At 5'10" I'm pretty tall here, and my blonde hair and blue eyes are definitely unique.  I also will soon find out that at 190lbs I am Sumo Sized.

It's close to 6am and I decide to try and find some WiFi to send a text back home, behind me on the stair bridge I hear some rattling and turn just in time to see a business man with thick glasses stumble down the stairs-- his briefcase sliding out ahead of him.  I catch it with my foot before it can shoot into traffic, and carry it over to him.

He seems to be having trouble getting up and I ask him if he's okay but he stares at me like I came out of a mushroom shaped spaceship right in front of him.  I reach a hand down to help him up and grasp his upper arm lifting him so hard I almost toss him across the street.

He can't weigh more than 86lbs.   I set him down and hand him his briefcase and bow.  He stares at me and then says "thank you" in weak English and rushes off.  The smell of alcohol lingers.  Salary man out late with the boss?

I'm jonesing for a cup of coffee and I've heard rumors Krispy Kreme is here, but I have no luck and end up at a Starbucks.  I order an Omelet Sandwich and and Iced Coffee and scrape the ketchup off with disgust (I hate Ketchup).  I'm amazed at how much English is used and understood here.  The coffee is consistent with Starbucks, back home I hate the burnt overpriced stuff they serve, but here I'm happy it's familiar.

That night Veronica and I decided to try Pizza in Japan and found a little place about five blocks from our hotel.  We ordered Margurite Pizza and I was starving and happily surprised when it arrived within minutes.

It was really good-- doughy with just the right amount a cheese and a lot of sauce.  The waitress was extremely nice and talked to us about Boston although I'm not sure how much of the conversation she understood.  I think she was too polite to ask us to repeat ourselves.

Winding and sometimes hilly streets of Shibuya
We plan on exploring a bit more but opt instead to go back to the hotel and take a nap-- who the hell knows what time it is and I'm sensing more blue goblins so I figure it best to grab a few hours shuteye.