I got rained out!
Today was supposed to be my chief day for exploring central Tokyo. Yesterday was eaten by a combination of getting to my new hotel and shopping in Akihabara. Tomorrow will be a wash too because my rail pass runs out at midnight tonight, plus they kick me out of the hotel at 11 am. So I was really counting on today to go crazy in the city.
The boding of ill pretty much started from the get go. My first destination was Shinjuku, which is a shopping and business district. Unfortunately, from the train station I had no real idea of where to go to get to the "good" bit, and I found myself mostly wandering around in this underground warren beneath a bunch of office buildings. Plus, I left my phone back at the hotel and couldn't take pictures. In the end I gave up on Shinjuku as a bit of a disaster, and headed back to the Crowne Plaza Metropolitan to (a) retrieve my phone, and (b) do a wee bit of checking on the internet for maps of some Tokyo districts.
Armed with new knowledge, I ventured forth again, this time for Shibuya, which I had been assured was the home of that intersection with the big TV screens and the crowds of people that you see in every bit of video footage about Tokyo ever. I did inded find that intersection, which didn't quite live up to its reputation as the Times Square of Tokyo, but did lead me on to some streets full of shops.
At this point some fairly heavy rainclouds were gathering, and I realised something about myself and shopping. When I go shopping, I normally gravitate to places where books, DVDs, and games are sold. When you can't read the language, all of those things lose a certain amount of utility, and so I ended up wandering around, wondering exactly what it was I was hoping to see and/or buy. It was all a bit disheartening, and so after doing laps of a few blocks I headed back to the rail station.
My third stop was Harajuku, teen capital of Japan, home to toy shops, places which sell cool things, and... uh... hordes of underage lesbians engaging in cosplay. Actually, the hordes apparently come out more on Sundays, but they were still well represented. Anyway, whatever it was I'd been looking for in Shibuya, I found it in Harajuku. Over the course of a couple of toy shops and jewellery shops I completed my souvenir shopping in style. Unfortunately, the whole while that I was there it was pelting down with rain. I perservered for an hour and a half, getting thoroughly drenched, but eventually the prodigious amount of water in my clothing began threatening to seep through my bag and pockets and destroy my rail pass, passport, and/or purchases, and I had to retreat.
So now I'm back in my hotel room watching the torrential downpour out the window. It's really annoying, because I could have gone another couple of hours in Harajuku easily, plus I still wanted to visit Jinbocho and the Tokyo Tower. And I haven't done Tokyo by night yet!
So here's hoping that it clears up by sundown. It doesn't look likely, and the weather reports are suggesting it won't let up till after midnight. Sigh.