Thursday, December 3, 2009

Japan! Tokyo: the city that never sleeps

       Ninja Tokyo Hostel? With a name like that, good times are guaranteed. As we walked the five flights up the steep stairwell, we were intrigued by the anime story that visually explained the perils of playing with samurai swords. The moral of the story: if you are a ninja octopus, you may cut off several of your tentacles.

       Our hostel was very Japanese meaning very space efficient. I would like to compare our sleeping area to the back of a band’s tour bus: a narrow path between stacked, box-like, wooden, private sleeping cubby holes. We were each given a key. So we threw our backpacks onto our beds, slid the wood panel shut, and locked our things into our personal caves.
       I actually never slept that night. After dinner we headed to Club Camelot in the Shibuya district. We made several friends in the metro station that used iPhone applications to direct us through the metro routes. We arrived back at the hostel after three in the morning and we all made use of the free internet: chatting with friends who were in class on mid-Thursday afternoon.
      At four in the morning we woke the rest of the group up and we headed to the Tokyo fish market for a cultural experience. Before the sun could even provide a sliver of light, we dodged forklifts while hundreds maybe thousands of people scurried like ants around the covered market. I chatted with a local fisherman after he caught me poking one of the large translucent squids he had on display. He took a liking to me and my foreign curiosity so he offered me a fresh cut of tuna sashimi. I excitedly accepted it and ate it, only thinking about the possible repercussions of fresh raw fish while I gaped at a large tuna being publicly dissected a few stalls over. With the rising sun came more and more spectators, buyers, and fishermen. Buyers were bidding for the finest seafood for their five star restaurants. Local mothers, trailing their small children behind them, bargained for smaller morsels to provide for their family. Fisherman argued pointing fingers, brandishing fish, shouting Japanese. Other fisherman proudly arranged and rearranged their my-sized catches or passed their hand over tanks as if to frame their seafood in a braggadocios manner.

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