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24 August 2005

Toy Town

i have just had the pleasure of having my first international guest come to stay at The Den. Fresh from the stage of the State Theatre in Melbourne, and consequent after-party, Masde (My All Singing-Dancing Entertainer) came breezing in to 'do Tokyo in a day' on his way through to london. i spruced up the flat (moved around my two possessions), took the day off work and headed off to the Crowne Metropolitan Hotel in Ikebukuro to meet the 10.30 bus from the airport.

although i've been here for a few months now and am still constantly struck by new and bizarre things, it was wonderful to see them through Masde's eyes. the day was hilarious and the fact i was tour-guide was a joke in itself as i am constantly lost in this crazy place. Masde was actually telling me how to get back to stations after we had wandered around an area for a while as i had no clue. he called tokyo 'toy town' and equated the various construction sites we came across as lego as things are on a much smaller scale here. even my tiny fridge got a laugh!

there was a brief sojourn to The Den where Masde freshened up (i think we agreed that the size of the bathroom and toilet rivalled those on the airplane from which he had just disembarked) then we set ourselves loose upon tokyo. it was a typically muggy and sweaty day but we still managed to do a lot. i thought i would throw him into the thick of things and packed us off to shinjuku to allow him the full effect of culture shock. we had a look around and eventually found somewhere for lunch and beer then off to the top of the tokyo metropolitan government office building. the view from 48 stories up was spectacular and the city stretched as far as the eye could see. a great way to get a real perspective of the enormity of this place.

from there, back to shinjuku station and off to 'takeshita street' which caused no end of muffled giggles, nudging and grinning. this street is full of great japanese kitsch and a four storey 100 yen shop where there is an endless array of items that are either unrecognisable or don't appear to have any particular purpose. needless to say, i didn't walk out of there empty-handed. there was also a rather hysterical moment in the photo-booth where the machine was singing at us and gave us a lot of options to do things with this magical silver pen/wand, but as we could neither understand the words, nor read the instructions, the photos came out without all the bright colours/cat's ears/hawaiian theme or jungle style that we could have chosen. but we both still looked Fabulous which is all that matters.

after spending hours in the 'street' we were parched and tired so went to quench our thirst in a super-cool looking bar in harajuku. we hung with the young, beautiful kids for a while then decided to finish off the night in shibuya. i'd deliberately left this for the evening as it is sooo beautiful all lit up, and Masde had just seen 'lost in translation' and apparently that's the last scene in the film. he was suitably impressed then off we went for traditional japanese fare for dinner. we found a cute, ambient place and ordered some cool ales. the menu was all in japanese and, being the linguistic idiot that i am, having still not mastered much of the language, asked for the menu in english. it was shibuya after all, a mecca for tourists.

no menu existed in english and there were no english speaking waiters so we played charades with our waiter and asked him to order 6 dishes for us to share. we couldn't have chosen better ourselves. the dinner was wonderful and a perfect way to finish off one day in tokyo.

so it was with full bellies and aching limbs that we jumped back onto the yamanote line train and headed towards the quiet peace of my little neighbourhood. it was so nice walking along the quaint streets to The Den, but nicer to finally crash into bed, exhausted.

we were up and away early the next morning. i took Masde back to the craziness of ikebukuro station (has to be seen to be believed), we finally located the locker where we had put his luggage the day before, then off he went to get his plane to london. it was very sad to see him go as i realised how much i miss having someone to do the fun stuff with, well, stuff that becomes fun when there is someone else there to laugh with.

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