06 July, 2014

We go to Tokyo: Catchup #1

I was going to skip most of 2012 and 2013, but Viking Man complained.


We went to Tokyo in February 2012 for the Tokyo Marathon. Aside from a visa run to Osaka when we lived in Korea, I hadn't been to Japan since I lived there in 2003-2004, and even then, I hadn't spent much time in Tokyo. So I was excited to go.

The marathon was fun. The Japanese, and runners in general, really know how to do a good costume. Viking Man, not wearing a costume, ran well, and I was able to see him at several points along the course. I wanted to see him finish as well, but as it was quite a trek by train for me to get out to the finish line, I wasn't sure if I would make it by the time he did.

I waited and waited and waited until I thought, 'Surely he wasn't that slow,' and then I went to the reunion area where we had agreed to meet afterwards.

I can tell you right now that we didn't think that one through very well.

Take 36,000 runners, multiply by the number of spectators per runner, minus five or six people who had already left, and you have the finish area. It was vast and overwhelming and teeming with everyone but VM. There were large numbered balloons for our meeting convenience, but we hadn't known about the balloons. So I decided to try a 'wait in one spot' approach. Then I tried a 'walk in a systematic grid' approach. My 'slump dejectedly against a wall' approach yielded nothing.

In a final act of desperation, I flagged down a volunteer who helped me navigate a phone book and pay phone, to no success. She eventually took pity on me and called our hotel on her own cell phone. VM answered the phone in our room. I wasn't sure whether to cry in relief or launch into a tirade about being abandoned. VM sounded genuinely sorry for leaving, but it probably had been the best idea under the circumstances.

Later when we compared notes about which costumed runners we had seen (Full Suit and Tie Guy, Hello Kitty Ninja, Tokyo Tower, Barefoot Jesus) and when we had seen them, we came to the conclusion that I probably hadn't made it to the finish line in time. Moral of the story: always choose a numbered balloon.

Some of the highlights:

Our hotel was in this vibrant area, just up the street from the pulsating Shibuya Crossing.

Edo Tokyo Museum
I spent an entire morning in this massive edifice housing the city's history while VM worked in the Tokyo Office.

This was a charming area with traditional shopping streets and a beautiful temple.

Tsukiji Fish Market
One of things on VM's wish list, he convinced me to get up at a ridiculous hour so we could see the market at its freshest. I'll admit that it was worth it. Giant tuna!

Meiji Shrine
The shrine had gorgeous cypress gates, and we saw a wedding procession.

Roppongi Hills/Mori Art Museum/Roof Deck
First we went to Tokyo Tower but changed our minds (possibly because of the price?) and continued walking to Roppongi Hills. Tickets for the roof deck at Mori Tower came with free access to the museum (and vice versa, so win-win for both of us), and we could see Tokyo Tower from there which ended up being better anyway.