Oxford – 03/05/11 – Sea Pictures
Tokyo Part 3 – Who ate all the animals?
There’s almost no wildlife of any sort, except crows and cicadas. An occasional cat in the street, some tiny dogs being walked by single men at 6am, the odd sparrow – but i haven’t seen a rat, a lizard or any of the other things one might expect. Spotted an egret in the park, and some monster carp and terrapins, plus a pair of sea eagles over the bay, but startling lack of fauna.
Did they eat everything? Clearly they did – i have been offered things that are so newly born that they probably didn’t have time to breathe. Tokyo is very fond of eels and we have had elvers so tiny they are like baby bean sprouts – eating them just feels wrong, like eely child abuse. Bags of teeny shrimplets that surely only just made it out of the egg before being scooped up. All delicious but will there be any left soon? Even the tuna look suspiciously on the small side, but that’s not stopping them.
Tokyo – Part 2
Things i really don’t love about it: the noise, oh my god, there are speakers on street corners (every corner of the big zebra crossings) blaring i don’t know what public information or radio station or something; the high pitched street vendors’ calls which go up at the end in a squeaky question and are given endless identical repetitions; the deranged glockenspiel player who has recorded the entire Beatles back catalogue as a lovely series of jingles to be played on train stations while we are waiting, or at which the train is about to arrive if we are already on it. The roads looping all over the place, often high up on flyovers going past someone’s bedroom window – Spaghetti Junction doesn’t begin to cover it, it’s mayhem, and yet incredibly orderly, with endless officials waving flashing batons and controlling it all. The concrete – hardly a tree in sight, except for a few parks here and there – like Docklands on steroids – because the city is so new, having been earthquaked badly in 1922 and then firebombed to the ground in WW2. Not much of it left, even the shrines are re-builds, but there is an occasional real ‘old’ house now and then. it explains why Kyoto and areas outside Tokyo are so valued, becuase there is virtually nothing old here and it may become the next Venice, sinking beneath the weight of its own concrete.
Tokyo Part 1
Tokyo is a seriously bananas city. Things i love about it: it’s so efficient it’s like a machine; trains on time, amazing levels of information, signs in English,although few people speak it. It’s so clean and tidy – no garbage, no graffiti, clean streets, cleaner trains, no dog poo. This is a seriously obedient society, which can cut both ways but manifests positively in – no mobiles on the trains, no eating/drinking on trains and hardly ever in public at all; olympic quality queueing, including lines painted on the train platform to show you where/how; they have no real way of saying NO, which has to be a very optimistic way to live; they are amazingly helpful – people are paid to lurk around on stations and be helpful if you are clearly lost – even if they speak not a word of English they will somehow get us onto the right train. Courteously and with much bowing. The food – totally heavenly, i don’t know where to start. Had a truly great meal a couple of days ago in a total dive with not a single European in sight. The Onsen – mineral spa baths, which are outdoors, and in which you lie, gazing at the sky, bubbling with goodness and gradually becoming prune-like until it’s time for a beer and a massage. We went to one out of Tokyo and were the only Euros, again.