Tuesday, August 08, 2006


Tuesday. August 8, is it? I'm still so messed up with the day and time, probably because I'm not employed. At least I think the jet lag is slowly winding down. I didn't get sleepy as early last night, but then I did have a nap yesterday afternoon after venturing out to the bank machine and to get an iced latté at Tully's, our favourite chain of cafés (there are Starbucks everywhere but I prefer Tully's, which I believe are Japanese). Anyway, it's just odd because our body clocks seem to gotten stuck on a new schedule, to bed at 10 and up at 6:00. I guess it's because it gets dark earlier here (right now in mid-summer it's pitch dark by 7 p.m.) and the sun seems to rise super early (it's bright out by 5 a.m. if not earlier). Our new schedule allows us a leisurely breakfast before Aran (the Japanese pronunciation of his name, in case anyone was wondering) has to head out to work at around 8:50.

So it was raining this morning and is still fully overcast. Which is fine because it's a bit cooler (probably about 30 + humidity, instead of 35 + humidity)! It's nice to have a break. After posting this I'm going to go for a long walk along the main street that the embassy's on to a big department/grocery store where we found good baguette. It's going to be tough to wean that man of mine off of his baguette and cheese (though we've only bought one small brie since we arrived, which is pretty good). But I can't judge him because I can't see myself giving up coffee! When our stuff arrives I will buy some green tea though. Sans teapot we've only bought bottled green tea that's meant to be drank cold. It's unsweetened and tastes pretty authentic.

Food has occupied a lot of our thoughts since we arrived, I must admit. Many of our various walking and metro-riding expeditions in our first few days involved locating various grocery stores. If you go to the wrong one, the prices can be very steep. So we've compared a few and found the best bread, cheapest beef, etc. in our neighbourhood. Though no matter where we go, most of the store is filled with things we cannot identify. Japanese home cooking seems dauntingly complicated. There are SO many types of packaged dried or pickled things (mushrooms, herbs, fish, and so many which we don't recognize), hordes of different nori (seaweed) products, and rows upon rows of sauces and vinegars, etc., etc., that I can't even begin to imagine how to prepare a meal. We have decided to pick something mysterious to try each time we shop and so far, so good, we've discovered a couple of yummy things!

Tokyo certainly seems food-obsessed, just like us. Apart from the grocery stores, there are restaurants EVERYwhere. Be they fast foodish bento shops (they sell you a special combo type of meal that is made up of several different small dishes, which incidentally is a pretty common way of serving food in Japan), or sushi, noodles, and yakitori (skewered stuff) restaurants. That's not to mention the markets. We went to one in Ginza on Sunday that was so huge I could not even get my head around it. Try multiplying Jean-Talon by 20 maybe, or the Byward by 50. I am not kidding either.

That's the thing about this city. I've been to some other huge cities in my day; Bogota, Mexico, New York, Vancouver, L.A. But Tokyo seems bigger to me, I'm assuming it's because of the density. Though I don't know if I mentioned this yesterday but another thing that surprised us is that it's not as crowded as we thought it would be. I'm talking people-wise, walking down the sidewalk. I found Vancouver's downtown sidewalks worse! The most jarring thing about the sidewalks though are the cyclists. The streets are so narrow (and the drivers seem rather speed-obsessed) that you'd be nuts to ride your bike on the street so they don't, they ride 'em on the sidewalk! Which though I say they aren't overly crowded, are always busy. And most cyclists don't go slow either! If you hear ring-ring behind you, you better jump out of the way.

I have so much to say, as you can see, but I'll have to leave some for other posts. Next maybe I'll talk about the fabulous architecture (I took and will go on taking photos, photos, photos), or the sharpness of fashion (everyone is dressed to the nines, no matter how hot and I haven't seen a tramp-stamp since we left North America!) or maybe about the people, though we haven't really cracked that nut yet (folks are not as friendly as we had heard).

Ja mata. (See ya later)


Wow.. sounds pretty crazy.. i look forward to hearing more stories as you explore Japan..
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