Monday, July 24, 2006

Last Full Day In Tokyo

After getting back from Europe, spent a frantic few days trying to book a flight to Los Angeles. I was supposed to go in early June, when prices were still cheap, cheap, cheap, but then the Montreux gig came and I had to fly to Paris. Now, it's the end of July, summer vacation has started, prices are sky high and seats are less available. The cheapest flight takes you via Seoul. There is something wrong in a world that makes it cheaper for you to go a greater distance and use up more fuel. But I am expecting more frequent flyer miles to go with it! But that's tomorrow's adventure. Today's my last full day in Tokyo for who knows how long, so there is much to do. Waking up at 6am was not early enough.

I had to come out to my friend's house in Myogadani where I left my luggage that's going to the US. There's a huge grey bag, accordion'd out to its maximum size, and a box containing a fold-up bike. As I write this, I'm waiting for the delivery service people to come and pick them up. I'll collect them at Narita. I hope it's under 30kilos each. I can usually tell because 35kilos is about the most I can pick up on my own. Not bad for a 42kilo weakling, I'd say.

This place in Myogadani is the formerly rat-infested house where I lived during the month of May. I spent weeks battling the rats and the roaches. There was (and still is) one of those electronic "rats-be-gone" gizmos you see Advertised On TV plugged into an electric socket in the kitchen. The former tenant had probably gotten it from a tv shopping channel. I had to laugh. I should have taken a picture of it with the rat turds scattered underneath and sent it to the manufacturer. I've kept it plugged in -- it pleases my sense of irony.

Since I'd left this house in early June, there's been another tenant but she, too, has moved out. I don't think anyone has lived here for a while but so far, no signs of the rats moving back in. Instead, we have the Mold Family. It's been rainy season and with no one here to circulate the air, it's turned into a great environment for Mold. I sat down on the leather couch before realizing it was all covered in green-grey fuzz. "Didn't you smell it?" you might ask. Yes. But the whole house smells like mold, so somehow I didn't bother to actually LOOK at the couch before plopping my butt down.

The delivery people said someone would come between 9am and noon, so I had to make a super effort to get here just before 9. That meant experiencing Tokyo Rush Hour for the first time in decades. My mother's house (where I am staying) is in the 'burbs so the morning trains are always packed solid with commuters but this morning, it was not as bad as I had imagined. Maybe they've added more trains. Or maybe with the greying population, there really are fewer people.

In Ikebukuro, it was a different story. All the various Seibu line trains (local, express, semi-express, commuter-express, etc.) converge and disgorge its contents. Businessmen and women, spewed out from half a dozen trains, all bustle towards the other lines -- JR, Yurakucho, Maruouchi... On my way from the Seibu Line to the Yamanote Line, I was swept up in a massive flow of people. We were like a giant school of fish, all heading in the same direction. Here we come! En masse! There we go! Around the corner! No one bumps into anyone else. The flow, the mass, is very graceful. And I'm a little fish, inside the greater school of fish. It was so trippy that if I wasn't as tired as all the other commuters, I would have burst out laughing.

It was especially surprising to see all the people getting off at Otsuka with me. I guess every station is the busiest just before nine in the morning, but because Otsuka is a tiny station, with tiny stairs and 2 tiny exits, it can't quite accommodate this mob. Yet, this is Japan. No one pushed or shoved. We all waited quietly in a big mass, inching slowly towards the stairs, down to the exit and out onto the wet, misty streets.

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