Imagine greater Los Angeles. At 4850 square miles, it has about 13,000,000 people. Now increase the size slightly, to 5240 square miles. Then nearly triple the population, to 36,000,000. Make most of the roads too narrow to drive on and put a giant, confusing train system in the middle of it. Add vast amounts of neon signs and video screens and one emperor.
Now try to find your way around.
I couldn’t find a place to stay in Tokyo proper, at least not for a reasonable price, so I’m staying in Saitama, a little north of Tokyo. Getting here is straightforward. You just take the Saikyo line to Todakoen station. You have to make sure you get on a local or a rapid express, not a super rapid express, because that one bypasses Todakoen. Otherwise, no problem.
But if you’re going the other direction, the line stops at Shinjuku. If you’re foolish enough to stay on the train, thinking it will continue to Shibuya, well…it won’t. It now goes in the other direction, back toward Todakoen. To continue toward Shibuya, you have to get off and take a train on the Rinkai line, which is the same exact line. It’s just called something else in this direction.
So that was a good chunk of my afternoon.
I finally got to Shibuya, but all I did was get a triple latte at the Starbucks that overlooks Shibuya crossing and watch the people go back and forth across the street. A fair percentage of them were just crossing the street to try to get pictures of everyone else crossing the street.
At the starting gate, just as the light turns…
Tonight I’m just going to stay in and read a William Gibson novel.