September 14th, 2007

Kevin and Lisa

Catching Up

I have posted a string of back-dated entries starting here with the Seikan Tunnel Tour and running through the end of our sleeper train journey to Tokyo.

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By then the cumulative lack of sleep had caught up with me, and I fell into bed around 1730 after posting that "I'm here" message. Lisa slept for a while, too, but later got up and went to lay in some supplies. This room has a refrigerator that does not double as a mini-bar, thank goodness, and will hold a liter of milk and other small items. About 0300 I woke up, and after trying to get back to sleep, decided the best use of my time would be to get those photos annotated and backlogged posts made. And so I'm caught up.

I'm not sure what's planned for today. When Lisa wakes up later, maybe I'll find out.
Formula 1

Training in Tokyo

[Photos referenced here are in my Flikr albums and have had no work done to them."]

This was our first full day in Tokyo, but in fact we haven't really made any plans to speak of, so we sort of decided to go see what we could do in the way of interesting transit and trains in the area. We rode the loop line up to Yurakucho to find the Tourism office shown on our map, but before we could go there, Lisa got distracted by an electronics store and ended up buying more camera memory. I slowed things down by noticing after she had bought it that purchases of more than JPY10000 could be made duty free, so we spent time fussing around with the paperwork to get that fixed before going to the Tourism office, which was mostly a bust other than to find a few English-language maps.

After that, we went to Shimbashi Station, examined the steam locomotive on display in the square to the east of the station, and walked over to Old Shimbashi Station, a reproduction on the spot of the original station by that name. Those of you who were at Worldcon who had JR passes with you may have noticed that there was a JR station down beyond the Landmark Tower. Japan's first rail line ran between that station and Shimbashi, some 29 km. The Shimbashi area has been turned into a bunch of office buildings on the site of the former rail yard, but they've preserved some of the old station excavated during construction, and re-located the line's Milepost 0 to its historical location, which is where we took the photos.

Turning from the old to the new, we rode the Yurikamome Line over to Odaiba and somewhat randomly got out to look at things. We ended up riding the big (115 m) Ferris wheel, but the most interesting thing may have been Toyota's Formula 1 exhibit. The driving simulator was for a touring car racer, so we skipped that, and unfortunately the exhibit where you can attempt to squeeze yourself into the seat of an F1 car for a photo opportunity was closed, but they had a lot of the parts of a current F1 race car on display with exhibits about how they work, including the vastly expensive steering wheel and the absurdly powerful-for-its-size engine.

After a late lunch at one of the many places in the Odaiba area, we rode the Yurikamome line back across to Takeshiba, where we walked to Hamamatsuchō, where we boarded the Tokyo Monorail out toward Haneda Airport. Not wanting to pay full fare twice for what was just an out-and-back excursion, and not wanting to risk falling into the clutches of Airport Security, we got out just before the Airport, went around to the other platform, took some pictures on Lisa's camera, and then rode back in, getting off at Tennōzu Isle station, which was around a kilometer or so from Shinegawa. This meant we only had to pay the minimum fare, as we entered and exited only one station apart.

Back at Shinegawa, we bought stuff for dinner in the room tonight and breakfast tomorrow morning, because we were too tired and footsore from all the walking to go out for dinner again.

It takes us a long time to get anything done here because, everything being new, we're gawking around like the tourists from the backwoods that we are. And we're already pretty tired, so I shouldn't expect to get much done. But I keep hearing voices telling me how much I'm missing. You could take a year trying to explore just Tokyo and not run out of things to do. We've got three days, so we're concentrating on the more oddball rail and transit-related things to do. Above-ground transit and monorails have an advantage in that you can see out while you're traveling.

Saturday's plans aren't particularly firm, but probably include going to the Tokyo Tower and visiting the famous Ginza shopping district for Lisa's benefit. I reckon I need to keep a running total to make sure we don't run over our $1600 duty-free allowance.