Thursday, April 29, 2010

Tokyo Spring 2010

This trip to Tokyo started out very badly indeed, but things finally settled down, and yesterday I went to visit some long time clients, some of whom I count as friends as well as clients. The boss there is the most amazing host, and despite an insanely busy schedule he always finds time for a chat and a beer.

A bunch of the people there came out for drinks last night and two of them took their day off today to give me a guided tour of Yokohama. We wandered all around the harbour foreshore. It's a lovely area, with more food than you can possibly imagine. We finished off at the Landmark Tower.

Up the top there is an observation deck (for which they charge ¥1,000), and I figured I'd best take a photo or two to prove I made the effort.

This is the pretty bit looking out over the bay. Haneda airport is straight ahead in this photo, and the distance successfully hides all the industrial mess between this point and the airport. But the harbour area is pretty cool. Also, on the far right of the photo is about half of the International Passenger terminal, which is made all of hardwood planks in smooth curves with grass growing on the roof. It's pretty special too.

However, it's hard to avoid just how monstrously enormous Tokyo-Yokohama is.

This is the view to the right of the previous shot. And it's only a subset of the view - it just goes on and on. I'm told Fujiyama is out there somewhere, but I don't personally believe it exists. Every time I've been at a spot from which Fujiyama is supposed to be visible, there has been nothing but vague haze.

I still have a soft spot for this city. It's an incredibly friendly place. The food and booze are all good. I just wish I could get some slight grasp on the language. I'm rather behind the eight ball though - I suck at languages at the best of times, and when I finally get the confidence to ask what something means, I'm told it means nothing*. What am I supposed to do with a language which has meaningless, commonly used phrases? There are also 43 ways to say thank you, and only some are appropriate at any given moment.

*Gozaimasu has no particular meaning these days (although it may well have meaningful historical roots) - it's just added to stuff to be more respectful or formal.

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