Tokyo, Part III: The Return

I’m home! Unfortunately, things didn’t get better for Randy the last few days of the trip. After puking up a storm on Friday, he remained sick on Saturday and Sunday. However, unwilling to waste his last remaining hours in Tokyo, he bravely ventured into the city (and into nearly every public restroom) as we continued to explore the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography, Ebisu, Shinjuku, Shibuya, and Ueno Park.

The flight home was uneventful, aside from some religious freak across the aisle who actually paid for an extra seat so he could place his statue of the virgin Mary next to him on the flight. Making matters worse, he even kept the overhead light on her (as a spotlight) for the entire flight. Randy took photos of it, and I’ll post a copy here once it’s been downloaded.

In conclusion, here are my final observations of Japan:

Japan is the most efficient country I can imagine. You can go to a restaurant, find a plastic display of the food you want, go to a vending machine (also with photos of the food), pay for your item, grab a ticket, hand it to the cook and they will prepare the food for you. You don’t have to speak to anybody or know the language! Fast food even faster!

Japan has foliage to rival New England. Hell, it might even be better.

Japan 2006 310.jpg

Japan 2006 305.jpg

Japan 2006 296.jpg

Japan is leaps and bounds ahead of us when it comes to infrastructure. Instead of highways and train tracks going around gigantic mountains, they just drill a hole through the mountain and make it a straight shot. Their idea of high speed trains is much different that America’s lame-ass excuse of the Acela train from Boston to Washington, DC (which is slow, unreliable and has to deal with at-grade street crossings).

Paris, France, should not be known as “the City of Lights”. I mean, yeah, Paris lights up it’s monumental buildings elegantly at night. But Japan lights up EVERYTHING at night. Hell, they even have their own replica of the Eiffel Tour! There’s neon as far as the eye can see in Kyoto, Tokyo, Osaka…and all towns in between. The only areas left un-touched are the mountains (where it’s presumably too difficult to develop….yet)

Japan 2006 274.jpg

Japan 2006 259.jpg

Japan 2006 241.jpg

Japan has heightened personal hygiene. I mean, I found a public toilet that had a heated seat, a bidet function, a white-noise function (so others can’t hear you) and a fan (to remove odors). This was all built into the actual toilet! Did I also mention that they have full height toilet partitions?

On the other hand, they’re hygience can be quite questionable at times. I’ve never seen so many people pick their noses in public in my life. I’m not talking subtle pickings here…I’m talking digging for gold.

The Japanse concept of breakfast is simply scary: here’s a photo of breakfast our final day in Tokyo. What wasn’t pictured (because I didn’t want to eat any) were the boiled hot dogs and gruel. Broccoli, sphagetti and bacon, and salad, anyone?

 Japan 2006 256.jpg

That said, here are the remaining photos from Tokyo. Despite Randy getting sick, it was truly an adventure for me. I’d definitely go back – focusing more time on Kyoto…and possibly visiting Hiroshima and southwest Japan.

We stumbled upon this sign at a restaurant. What does it mean? No smoking, sneezing and drinking elephants allowed?

Japan 2006 251.jpg

Yet another temple-like structure in Ueno Park

Japan 2006 228.jpg

A view from the top of City Hall (which is over 45 floors tall!)

Japan 2006 282.jpg 


  1. Comment by Lise on December 13, 2006 11:24 am

    Absolutely gorgeous photos!

  2. Comment by Brad on December 13, 2006 11:36 am

    Although I do have to say, that outside of the gorgeous historic buildings and foliage, all those lights, while impressive, seem to be rather cheap looking. Instead of using lights to tastefully display historic monuments and worthwhile scenery, it seems to be more like the Japanese light up anything that they can plug in and make it flash. I’m sure it was all impressive (and hope to go and make a more educated assessment), but I think I like the more thoughtful European constraint. That said, I’m so glad you had a good time and so sorry Randy got sick. Here’s hoping you get to go back when he can enjoy the trip a little more.

  3. Comment by Dave in Chicago (2) on December 13, 2006 12:47 pm

    Mmmmm, tater tots… What a fantastic trip, scorpions and all! Can you imagine how much electric energy is used lighting up all that neon? Oy….I’m calling Al Gore.

  4. Comment by Will on December 13, 2006 12:56 pm

    Welcome home, and I hope Randy wasn’t too sick to take the plane home comfortably.

    I’ve had some English breakfasts that rival that one. In a Pakistani-run hotel in London I got baked beans, spaghetti-Os out of a can, tomato slices fried in bacon fat (but no bacon) and stone cold toast (which is everywhere in England). One thing I’ll say–it was incredibly filling.

  5. Comment by J.P. on December 13, 2006 1:40 pm

    What wonderful photos you have there. I hope Randy is feeling better. Glad to hear you’re home safely! 🙂

  6. Comment by karyn on December 13, 2006 2:59 pm

    I am completely taken with the Battery-Throwing-Water-Spraying-Elephants – Who-Drop-Their-Cigarettes-Not-Allowed sign. Where the hell did you see that??? Glad you are back safely –

  7. Comment by snarl on December 13, 2006 3:28 pm

    I agree with you, Brad, that Paris is much more beautiful (Tokyo is not attractive at all). However, for the designation “city of lights”, Tokyo far surpasses the use of “lights” – not matter how distastefully they utilize them! LOL

  8. Comment by Steve on December 13, 2006 4:41 pm

    Most excellent photos! Glad you enjoyed your trip, and I hope Randy is feeling better.

  9. Comment by Six on December 13, 2006 4:53 pm

    Great pictures!

    And the sign obviously means “no blowing cylindrical items here!”

    Have you been to

  10. Comment by The Persian on December 13, 2006 8:18 pm

    Glad you made it home safe. The pictures are completely breathtaking Karl. What an incredible experience. When you go back, can I tag along?


  11. Comment by Mark on December 13, 2006 10:17 pm

    Welcome back, poodle. Japanese culture really does fascinate me. In some respects, they are deeply steeped in quiet traditions, but then you have the sneezing elephant seizure light fun factory.

    I hope Randy’s feeling better. It makes me glad I am taking some strong-ass antibotics with me to Africa next month.

  12. Comment by thleen on December 14, 2006 9:40 am

    Great photos! Can’t wait for the Virgins on a Plane photo.
    Glad you are home for the holidays now. Hope Randy is feeling better now.

Comments RSS TrackBack Identifier URI

Leave a comment