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13 November 2010 @ 12:21 pm
Stories of Tokyo: Was that Shibuya or Shinjuku?  
I made the mistake of not printing out Google Maps, thinking I would be OK with:
* The maps in Lonely Planet
* MapDroid + GPS Location + Preloaded Tokyo map on my Nexus One (GPS works even without a cellphone network connection)
* The address and directions-from-the-station from the hotel's website
* Pictures of the hotel, as a visible portion of the skyline

Obvious flaw: GPS works for crap when surrounded by tall buildings. For example, Tokyo.

Mistake: The hotel's address is in Shibuya-ku, but the hotel is close to (and provides directions from) Shinjuku station.

So, after two flights, we got off the train in Shibuya (one of the busier Tokyo stations) around 5:00, went out the south door ... and found a world that didn't match my memories of the route to the hotel or the textual directions. We tried to match directions to the local map, and crossed the highway into south Shibuya (involving multiple staircases, with luggage).

The directions didn't work. I asked for help, and was given directions to a nearby police station. We didn't find the station, but I did eventually stop in a mini-mart (konbini) and ask for help. They gave me directions involving getting back to the station and getting on the JR Yamanote line, which was when I finally figured out that we were in the wrong district.

So, we went back into the busy train station, and waited in line for the Yamanote line (the "great circle" of Tokyo). We never saw people "packed" into trains by the white-gloved attendants, since people were packing themselves in quite dense enough. Standing room only, down to the cubic centimeter.

Poor Kyna was trapped in a sea of youths, unable to reach handholds, so each time the train started or stopped, everybody stayed upright by leaning on each other. At one point, she had at least 3 times her weight on her bad ankle.

We got off at Shinjuku station, which some websites claim to be "the busiest train station in the world", at the peak of rush hour. From there, the directions made MUCH more sense, and we quickly found our hotel. Kyna spied a few bakeries along the way, for future reference.

After checking in, Kyna was Not Walking Any More, so I ran to the nearest konbini to get dinner.

The next day, we weren't feeling up to any form of transit, so we just wandered Shinjuku, familiarizing ourselves with the area near the hotel. We learned the basics of navigating the Land of Department Stores, introducing Kyna to the wonders of the depachika. According to wikitravel and my food-porn guide to Tokyo, "if you only visit one depachika, it should be Isetan", so we hit there first.

OMG. Basement-level museum displays of food, and food, and food. Steam buns, gyoza, baumkuchen, candies, meat skewers, wagyu beef, and, and ... I lost track. Isaten is a huge department store, with denser staff and more service than Nordy's. I wasn't comfortable playing tourist-with-a-camera inside most stores, but I did get a few pics of the rooftop garden.

Eventually, we stopped for lunch at "Tokatsu Santa", which I intentionally mistranslate to "delicious porky Christmas". Again, this was advised by the food-porn guide, an was very, VERY good. Wonderful little breaded fried-pork croquettes, with the perfect sauce.

From Tokyo 2010
From Tokyo 2010
Current Location: Shinjuku, Tokyo