Sunday, April 23

Hi all!  I've queued up some various updates for you and hope you find this interesting.  First, I just missed the cherry blossom season, for which Japan is well known.  But there were a few hardy hangers-on still around including this tree outside the hotel.

After a late-night conference call back to the states one night last week I was hungry for something and the local McD's was across the street so I went and got a chicken sandwich.  It was quite good.  There was a delay cooking the sandwich so they put the card on my tray, gave me the fries and drink and I went on my way.  Once I was done with the fries I figured they had forgotten about my sandwich and was ready to just leave, but then two people came to my table with a tray with my sandwich, bowed and held it out for me to take.  What could I say?  I just bowed back.

Walking back after the chicken sandwich experience caught this shot of the Tokyo Tower from near the office.

Here's an intersection on the walk from the hotel to the office, in the background.

Went for dinner one night with the auditors who were just wrapping up their visit.  Here they are, and here's the Roppongi Hills complex where we had dinner at Xen.  Neat place, it shares a space with the Bamboo Bar, and is decorated with plastic tubes that are illuminated in green to look like bamboo.  Cool. I had a spicy noodle soup and the Indonesian Fried Rice with Chicken Satay.  Excellent.  The 900 yen Asahi dry's were good but way too pricy.

One of the major highways goes through Roppingi and here's a sign at the entrance to it

Some night shots of downtown Tokyo.

Saturday I took the subway to a train system that goes outside of downtown, out to Makuhari where another office is located.  Some shots from that train trip, which took me by Tokyo Disneyland.

A huge golf driving range

Typical apartment buildings.

Tokyo Disneyland.  Supposedly it's laid out exactly like the one in California.

It was a clear morning so you could see Mount Fuji. (Fuji-san)


Some of the area at Makuhari.  This is on the east side of Tokyo bay.  Downtown

Downtown Tokyo is all the way across the bay in these pictures:

The train I rode in on, or one that looks like it.

Some oil tankers in the bay.

Later in the day you could not see Mount Fuji much as it became overcast again.  It's been that way much of the time I've been here.

Nice sunset.  Note the mountains off in the distance.

Back downtown, here's a some street signs that points you to various sections of town.  Roppongi I've been to several times for meals.

And during one of my walks around the hotel, yes you ham radio people, I found a tribander.

So now that I've been here a week, what do I think?  Here's some random thoughts.  Note I haven't really left Tokyo so this is just my observation of 'round here.

I think the Japanese are very nice and respectful, Tokyo is very neat and clean and pretty easy to get around.  I've been walking around at midnight and haven't felt any worries.  I haven't seen any homeless anywhere.  Tokyo is really big and there's extensive transportation options so that if you can walk 2 km, you don't need a car.  There was an earthquake the other morning that others told me about but that I slept through.  The last trains on the subway leave the city center at midnight so you have to plan for that.  You can get a bowl of nice breaded chicken and a bowl of rice for $3.50 which makes a nice dinner.  Everyone stops for pedestrians and the pedestrians don't jaywalk even when there are obviously no cars coming.  There are a lot of foreign embassies in this neighborhood (maybe that's why it's so safe?) and the police keep portable fences and cones at the intersections for the frequent and erratic times that they close the streets, presumably for the diplomatic entourages.  So far I've gotten pretty far in the stores just saying hai, domo, arigato and ohayo.  I'll try some more words this week and let you know how that goes.  There's a bookstore in the office underground mall area that sells some english-language books.  What did I buy? Shogun.  The electricity is close enough to the US to work fine, but bring a 3-to-2-prong adapter with you.  Oranges are not rare in Japan.  (That's for the Seinfeld fans).  Most everyone dresses really well except the few rebels.  Black and grey are IN.  Gas was 195¥ for a litre at the station down the street, that works out to $6.30 a gallon at today's 117Y/$1 exchange rate.  I haven't seen an insect here the whole time but something's got to be pollinating the cherry blossoms, right?  Everything is so orderly, even though the street layout seems weird to a foreigner, the sidewalks are all even, people park their bikes in rows, everyone stays to the left.  Seems like everyone and everything has their place and knows it. 

But if you're worried about getting a coke, smoke, or beer in the middle of the night, these machines are everywhere.