Busiest intersection in world at Shibuya
Good week home for the holidays and headed back to Seoul. Did another “long layover”, this time 26 hours in Tokyo. The other 2 worked out great in Beijing and Panama and I actually did the most advanced planning on this one – the plan was to drive to Mr. Fuji, stay at a hotel with hot springs, drive to 2,300 meters and hike some of the way (can’t go all the way to the top in the winter). Train was too many connections, too long for a one day layover, and too much “hope” on shuttles and taxis, so I booked a rental car and hotel. After landing (ahead of schedule, so an extra 30 minutes already) I went to rental car desk and, apparently, the Japanese have a strict rule requiring driver licenses. Maryland no good, Korea no good, just Japanese or International DL (which is meaningless most places). And no roaming either for some unknown reason, so didn’t try to make it by train.
So – had to alter plan and headed to Shibuya – Times Square of Tokyo. Found a cheap hotel and was checked in by 9pm (7am East Coast time Saturday) and was in the hotel bar/kitchen catching up on bowl game results from Friday night and was planning to get some sushi and head to bed, but some Australian guys insisted I go with them to watch a rugby game. So – I had to go. Apparently, Australians think Americans are crazy and I disappointed them as I bailed after a bit – and we never found the rugby game after searching several places. Initially, I was surprised how western Shibuya was until I realized most of the blondes were Japanese – like 30% of the people. Very different than Seoul where conformity rules – here young people really want to be different. Korea will be similar in 10-15 years.
On Sunday, did the tourist thing – visiting an observation tower and getting a slight glimpse of Mr. Fuji, visiting a shrine, a park, and the Imperial Palace. The gardens are only open a couple of weekends a year – open for me but with brown grass and no plants it wasn’t much to see.”