Poagao's Journal

Absolutely Not Your Monkey

Sep 03 2014

Tokyo ’14, part V

After the thrill of touring the Nippon Maru, I couldn’t get visions of the Hikawa Maru out of my head. Not just another ship, an old passenger liner from one of my favorite eras, the last of her kind still around…how could I pass that up? I’d be kicking myself all the way back to Taipei.

So, after experimenting with the hotel’s pancakes this morning at breakfast (verdict: Meh), I once again went to the JR station nearby and boarded a train bound for Yokohama. The trains were much more crowded this time, and it took a few before I could find a car that wasn’t bursting with people, all of them looking at their phones, except the ones looking at girlie mags. I managed, in turn, to retain possession of my hat.

Back at the last stop on the Minato-mirai line, which is for some reason buried a dozen stories underground, I emerged again to find cartloads of children being pushed around the park for some reason. Happily, the Hikawa Maru was open, and I boarded, bought a ticket, and then spent the next few hours wandering around in a 30’s-era reverie. The decor was pure Art Deco, and they were even playing period jazz songs, including the Japanese version of the St. Louis Blues, in the 1st-class dining room. The lounges, the smoking rooms, the cabins, everything made me want to spend two weeks crossing the Pacific in such a magnificent craft, not today’s cruiseliners, but a real, honest-to-goodness ship. Of course, I might change my mind if presented with the real life waves of the northern Pacific, but still. In the captain’s cabin I discovered the origin of the design, color and even the smell of my 1977 Datsun 810. Someone at Nissan ordered those exact hues and odors based on some fond memories; there can be no doubt. I can’t believe it’s a coincidence. Those shades of purple and brown simply don’t happen by accident.

I also discovered exactly what they were doing yesterday that required them to close the ship: painting. I got white paint on my hands when descending the ladders in the engine room, which is also truly magnificent to behold. A much better engine room than anything I’ve ever seen on Star Trek.

My appetite for 30’s-era ships somewhat sated, I had some lunch and then took a train back to Tokyo, listening to the soundtrack to Paprika as I did so. It made for a rather surreal experience. The Japanese music and songs come across differently in Japan. Context. I then sat through the entire length of the Ginza Line to Asakusa, where I disembarked and asked one of the staff what train I should take to the Skytree, feeling somewhat satisfied that I managed the whole conversation in Japanese. It turned out I could walk it, so I did, crossing the Sumida River by the giant Godzilla Turd, which is looking less golden with age these days, and up a tributary, through a rather rough neighborhood by Tokyo standards, to the towering monstrosity that is Tokyo Skytree as the sky clouded over.

Tokyo Skytree charges extra for access to the upper levels, so I just paid for the basic level, which was enough. They have carefully arranged the top level to not let anyone sit down, in order to move them to lower levels. It’s quite clever. I loafed around as the city lights began to come on, thinking I’d really rather be down in it all, not up above everything. After night had fallen, I went down and had some very salty noodles at a nearby shop, and then walked back to Ueno. It was a long walk, but I like walking here, and I could pick my own pace and dodge into alleys for the occasional photo without having to make any excuses for anyone. Very nice.

Tomorrow I’ll be visiting a photobook thing in Ebisu.

posted by Poagao at 9:56 pm  

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