Wednesday, April 4, 2012

50 Reasons Tokyo Is The World's Greatest City

Ok let me start by saying that the title of this blog post is not something I came up with myself (and it does not even necessarily reflect my own sentiments); it's the title of a CNNGo article I recently came across online.  I found it amusing and I also agreed with a lot of what they said (as much of it applies not only to Tokyo but to much of Japan in general), so I thought I would share it.  The article can be found here in case you want to read the whole thing: 50 reasons why Tokyo is the world's greatest city , but here are a few of the "reasons" I liked the best (or which stood out to me the most).

The world's most sophisticated railways (#1) - I have to say, the train system in Japan is impressive.  There are above ground trains, subways, bullet name it, they have it.  What's more, some of the major stations have all three, so all you have to do is catch an elevator up or down (sometimes way way up or down) if your final destination requires a connection on one of the other rail systems. The sheer number of "lines" and stations (and people all racing to make their train) can be daunting to a traveler that is not used to the system, but think about it this way - if 6 year old children can navigate the railways by themselves (it's quite a common occurrence here to see children riding alone), so can you!

Highway rest stops are destinations (#20) - I laughed when I saw that this was one of the items on the list, because this is one of the things Rich and I commented on the first time we experienced a Japanese rest stop.  I have not been to Umi-hotaru, the rest stop mentioned in the article, but I have been to other rest stops in Japan, and all of them have been way more elaborate than any rest stop I had ever been to before. The first time Rich and I went on a "road trip" here was the end of last summer when we went to an IndyCar race at Motegi Racetrack.  Since Motegi is about a 5 hour drive north from Yokosuka, the MWR bus had to leave base at 5 a.m. (which I thought was ridiculous at the time) in order to make it to the track on time.  After the first 5 minutes on the bus, I promptly fell asleep and was awakened 2.5 hours later when we arrived at the rest stop.  My first thought was:  woah, this is a rest stop?  There was a Starbucks, about 50 vending machines and a restaurant - and everything was really nice (even the bathrooms were ridiculously clean for being a rest stop). 

The next rest stop I encountered was even bigger and nicer - it had even more vending machines, a full blown food court with fast food type stands as well as actual restaurants, a convenience store and specialty stores (in case you forgot to get omiyage from wherever you were coming from).  The thing is that every rest stop I've been to has always been packed with buses, cars and people.  I'm guessing that because people have to drive such far distances to get around, that's the reason Japan has such elaborate rest stops.  Whatever the reason, I think they're great and it makes stopping so much more pleasant.

Bat's what's up (#23) - Omg, before I  moved here, I had no idea there were so many bats around, but I soon found out! Shortly after our furniture and other stuff we had shipped to Japan was delivered to our house (before I arrived in Japan), our friend Bryan helped Rich move some of our furniture into various parts of our house.  One night after I got to Japan, Rich said that Bryan asked if I had met our new pet.  I was confused because we didn't have any pets per se.  He started laughing and said, yeah he wanted to know if you met our pet BAT.  Apparently at around dusk, Bryan was oustide of our house and saw something flying around near the top of the lamp post next to our front deck (fyi, the top of the lamp post is right outside my bedroom window) - at first he thought it was a bird, but then he realized it was a bat.  A few nights later, when we were heading to catch the train, I DID in fact see the bat, which apparently likes our lamp post.  Later, when we were at the train station waiting for the train, I saw tons of bats flying around in the sky - it kinda grossed me out, but at it made me feel better knowing that my house probably isn't the only one with a pet bat. :)  I haven't seen the bat since it's been winter, but now that summer is fast approaching, I'm guessing the bat will make its appearance soon.

Cocktails are maniacally fresh (#46) - See my post about the Pine Sour where I described how they juiced an actual pineapple at our table and then poured it over the Chu Hi (Pine Sour Anyone?)...enough said.

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