[FoRK] Travel tips from the Accidental Tourist

Ken Meltsner <meltsner at alum.mit.edu> on Fri Aug 10 23:38:16 PDT 2007

OK -- Tokyu Hands is the best.  store.  ever.  7 floors in the
Shinjuku location (Tokyo).  Weird stuff, mostly crafts/home/decor.
Tools costing several hundred dollars next to dollar store junk.
Absolutely worth a walk or train trip even if you're not a hardware
store fan like me.

On the other hand, I think the big electronics stores are less
exciting than I hoped -- the inability to run much of the
communications equipment in the U.S., lots of discouraging signs about
grey market products, unimpressive prices.  And the weird stuff isn't
nearly as weird as the stuff I found in Singapore -- the immense
Suntec City complex has a floor of techie stuff, and there's "digital
life" mall" near where I was staying (in the City Hall district) which
was relentless in the sheer amount of equipment for sale.

My other complaint is that Disney has conquered the Japanese, and
there's not nearly as much cool Totoru swag as I'd have liked.  I did
get some Astro Boy (Atomu in Japan) paraphenalia which was too neat to

The Japanese thing for uniforms is somewhat bizaare.  The information
ladies at Keio, for example, all had identical dresses and hats, and
looked like illos from the Japanese edition of Emily Post.

Last accidental tourist comment:  sometimes, it was just *too* easy to
buy dinner in a mini-mart.  You can see what you're getting, not just
a tiny picture, it's cheap, there's usually a good variety of fruit
and food that's not total junk.   But it's so darned anti-social
(which is kind of the point after coping with the limited English
skills of my students),

The big alternative for the non-Japanese speaking seemed to be the big
hotels and their restaurants, but the hotel restaurants scare me
(given that their prices often start $50 and $100 w/o wine is not
unusual.)  Some of the cheaper restaurants make a stab at English
menus, but there's too much context missing -- what are the side
dishes?  What kind of picked vegetables? -- and I'm afraid I leaned
pretty heavily on my Japanese host when I tried to pick what to order.
 Maybe it's just me, but I found that being a near-total illiterate
was much more frustrating than I expected.  I watched a move with Jim
Belushi just to hear English for a hour or two.

Ken "The ugly (and sweaty after the last week's heat) American" Meltsner

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