Well, I talked one other of our party into taking a chance on eating in town last night… and we survived… 🙂
We hiked down to the main (of three) train stations in Shinjuku, did a little looking in the stores at the station and about fell out at the prices. One set of golf clubs was 540,000 yen, so move the decimal two places to the right… er.. um… $5400 for 3-pw!!! A driver for that set was $2450! Of course they were gold plated (no joke)! A couple of people suggested buying a camera since I forgot mine, but with the exchange rate at 89 yen/dollar it’s actually cheaper to buy one in the States!
A couple of interesting notes- In 15 minutes of walking we went from the central business district to the circular at the train station, so from broad avenues, wide sidewalks, underground shops/stores/restaurants to going one block beyond the train station (following our noses, cause “something” smelled good) to single lane streets, alleys (some of which were literally too narrow for us to walk down side by side, and Yakitori and Yakisoba stands built in the alleys with at most 4-5 stools. We were the only non-Japanese back there, but I never saw and resentment to our being there ( I have been other places where it’s NOT so nice).
We walked down one alley following our noses, and found a little yakitori stand that was packed. The mamasans were cooking “chicken” and “beef” skewers on a little hibachi about the size of a laptop, so we stood in the alley and got one of each along with a beer. They tasted as good as they smelled, so we had another of each.
At one point, we looked at each other and both of us said, “Monkey meat”… and started laughing…
Then we went about three stalls over (maybe 10 feet), and got a bowl of noodles from a little old papasan that was about 4’10”, looked about 110 years old, but was spry as hell and pretty feisty! The way I figure it, we might have paid $10 for our meal, and we were both full.
After winding our way back out of the alleys, I noticed a sign adjacent to the cross walk in multiple languages that the circular for the train station was an emergency evacuation area in case of fire/earthquake. We realized all the buildings were concrete and fairly low (max 3 stories). Considering the Japanese fear of fire (many homes are wood/rattan), I’d just never realized how much sense this made.
Other little oddities…
Bicycles on the sidewalk, and you’re supposed to walk on the left; so they come up behind you and ring their bell in warning, right?
What is an Americans natural tendency? Move to the right! WRONG… bout got a set of handlebars up the ass on that one… sigh…
A open sidewalk Fuji photo “store” that was probably 30 feet long on the side of a building, with people moving pictures off disks, printing pictures and email pictures all without an attendant, just insert credit card and away you go!
Karaoke bars- EVERYWHERE around the train station…
And Jumbo pachinko (gambling) parlors (talk about noise)!
Fur trim is in for both men’s and women’s jackets; women wear LOTS of boots, both calf high leather and Uggs; lots of people wearing surgical masks; and damn near everyone regardless of age with MP3/Ipod earbuds in their ears.
Malls over here are multi-story, and some of the biggest are located at the train stations, since that is a guaranteed traffic flow. Shinagawa has one of the largest in Japan. The pic below is from my last trip. It’s a German shop selling high end German knickknacks and cuckoo clocks (up to $5000).