Journey in Japan Part 57: In an interstellar burst

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Toothache has returned. After two full months of remaining silent in the corner of my mouth, the pain floods back like a terrible memory. My previous trauma at the dentist is once again vivid in the forefront of my mind. Lucky for me, I still have some little yellow pills from my last visit to the dentist, and these will do for today to both numb the pain and numb my nerves.

I cycle to Seven Eleven. The moment I park my bicycle, a policeman appears out of nowhere; parking his bicycle next to mine, as if to intentionally block me in. He hops off his bike at practiced speed, and starts pointing at me and speaking in a language that is so fast, it might not even be Japanese anymore. Eventually, he asks, “Buy?” I presume he wants to know if the bicycle I was riding is stolen, or actually my own. I hand him my residence card, and he punches my bicycle registration number into a small digital device. “Okay,” he tells me, handing me back my card, before riding off just as quickly as he appeared.

I leave the stolen bicycle at Minowa Station, and take the Tokyo Metro Hibiya Line. Thirty minutes later, I arrive in Roppongi. My first stop today, a spot of traditional British lunch.

I am yet to see a sign for an ‘English Restaurant’, perhaps such a restaurant doesn’t exist. ‘Malins Fish and Chips’ is the closest thing I will probably find in Japan. My lunch is served to me in a newspaper covered box. Fish, chips, and mushy peas. A home comfort in the shape of a stereotype. The peas taste horrible, but the fish and chips are very good. I also order a fish cake. Sadly, this restaurant gets it completely wrong, and I am presented with something that looks and tastes nothing like the fish cakes I am used to back home.

I wander over to Roppongi Hills, an area rich with overpriced apartments, five star hotels, and expensive shops selling ‘luxury’ goods. Things people don’t really need. Valuable bowls that are merely display pieces, candles costing over ¥10000 each, and sofas with price tags equivalent to the average annual salary in Japan. I leave the shops and head out into a makeshift courtyard. Outside there is a giant spider.

This bronze statue was made by French artist, Louise Bourgeois, and is one of the largest sculptures of a spider in the world. Many people are here taking photographs or posing beneath her egg sac. I snap a quick shot, before heading up an escalator that leads into a cinema.

One of the main reasons I came to Roppongi today, other than to eat fish and chips, is to watch the movie ‘Blade Runner 2049’. I pay ¥1800 and head inside to find my seat. The Japanese cinema experience is no different to what I am used to. Adverts, terrible trailers for upcoming releases, and cute characters telling everyone here to, “Switch off your mobile phone,” and, “Do not talk during the movie.” About half way through the movie, my little yellow pill decides to wear off. I am already in pain at having to sit through a movie I had high expectations for, but am struggling to enjoy. Now I have a second level of pain, further adding to my misery.

After what feels like seven hours, the movie ends. I leave the cinema and head over to Tokyo Midtown to see some over the top decorations.

After looking at the decorations outside the overpriced stores, I head to a small ice cream shop. The staff here are the happiest people in the world. “We sing for tips,” says a sign at the counter. I order strawberry cheesecake ice cream in a waffle cone, with a latte for good measure. It is possible to request a favorite song, and the staff will cheerfully sing it as they prepare the delicious homemade ice cream. “Old MacDonald had a farm, E-I-E-I-O,” they sing, to the man in the queue before me. A rather odd choice for a favorite song. I doubt the staff will know any of my songs, so I don’t trouble them by asking. My ice cream and coffee cost me ¥940; another casualty of an expensive Roppongi.

After dessert, I discover that Tokyo Midtown are having their annual winter illuminations, known as ‘Midtown Christmas’. I am here anyway, so decide to check them out.

The illuminations are impressive, far better than those at Tokyo Dome. There are multiple displays here including Christmas trees that line the roads, champagne glass shaped lighting arrangements; but the highlight for me is the ‘Starlight Garden’. Millions of dancing lights, cool smoke machine effects, and haunting music. Very blue. I watch for a while, transfixed by the light show, before pondering that the electricity bill here must be massive. Heading back to the station, I buy a selection of expensive cheeses, before taking the train bound for Minowa.

On the train ride home, my thoughts are distracted by androids, millions of blinking blue lights, and my fear of dentistry.

2 COMMENTS

  1. Roppongi is in festive mood at this time of year. I like it! Thank you for showing some wonderful experiences you had. I’m looking forward to reading your next article!! Please take care for your teeth 🙂

    • Hi Kouki, thanks for your positive comments, and I am sure they mean a lot to Luke. Thank you for continuing to visit and support our site!

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