Lost in Sumida

That was the goal today. Which I can say, was at a moment, a little too successful. I have since learned that ereadermap is nice, but it seems to be missing the implementation of places, which is you know, kind of important. On the bright side, Google Maps is much faster on the Kindle compared to the last time I used it, and it was quite helpful in getting me to regain my barrings.

Today I explored the next door temple in the daylight, and then headed over to the Tokyo Sky Tree. Sadly, it doesn’t actually open until the 22nd of May, so maybe I’ll catch it on my out.

After that, I really just wandered around, thinking I was roughly aware of where I was not getting too lost.

So it turns out that when most every street curves or angles a bit… you lose track pretty quickly.

I’ve mapped approximately where and how I walked around today. I’m sure if I could use my phone as more than a smaller computer, I could have probably picked up some sort of pedometer app or even a GPS path mapping dealie. Alas, you must suffer with my not 100% accurate map.

Between getting more lost than intended, QR codes, and having it for emergencies, I was starting to wonder just how much international data and the like costs for my phone, in case I didn’t want to bother jumping through the hoops to get a local phone and maybe data plan, swap in the SIM, etc. $15 per MB. Seriously. I figured it would be expensive, but that’s insane.

Is he going to actually tell us anything about his adventure or just show us a map and complain about how living in the future is expensive?

Being that I am lazy, and linguistically (oh good, I spelled that correctly) challenged, I do appreciate the about of Romanji used… though it seems Sumida uses it much more on their maps than Taito does. Once I crossed the bridge, local maps were a bit more challenging to ensure I was still on the right path. Also, Sumida has scales on theirs. I really liked that. Oh well. This is the easy part. Well, I guess Vietnamese only uses a modern roman alphabet, so… but still, Japan is… probably easier.

It’s really crazy. The scale, the density, the very old right next to the very new, the fact that I’m on many pedestrian signs and crosswalk lights. Seriously I’ve spent a good time walking around downtown Seattle, using some alleyways and the like. Here, most streets are well designed alleyways, arterial streets are about the only things that aren’t, and also tend to be the most grid like. QR Codes are on nearly everything. Power lines are everywhere in the alleys crisscrossing between buildings. Visually it is so very busy, why anyone would set anything not live action in Tokyo, I don’t know. It seems like the people making the backgrounds or modeling the levels would probably die from exhaustion.

Try to imagine taking everything in Seattle (including Fremont, Ballard, etc) except for the industrial stuff, and cramming it all into Downtown. I think that might be comparable.

Behavioral differences are interesting, if there is any directional tendency, people kind of walk to their left, but that’s not very firm, since they drive on the left. Cars wait for you when they’re turning, I mean, pretty much always even when it is inconvenient for them. Bikes are everywhere, and I’m not sure I’ve seen one bike lock today. There are bike lanes all over the place, mostly as part of the sidewalk. However many people on bikes seem to ignore the sidewalk’s bike lanes, and just go anywhere on the sidewalk, also some will just ride as though they have the right way at all times. …So I guess that part is the same.

Wait, did he say something about being in the crosswalk lights?

The crosswalk thing, so I have pictures that I’ll add, but for now, take my word for it. The older crosswalk pictograms were the clearest so I didn’t notice until I was in an out of the way bit of Sumida, but the graphic on the crosswalk sign is clearly a man in a suit, wearing a short brimmed hat. Like me. There are some others, like the no-crossing signs used for long stretches of road where you… cannot cross, shocking, I know.

My feet haven’t felt like this since my last PAX. I quickly realized I forgot my insoles, which I think are in my Chucks, somewhere in storage. Oops. I’m sure US Size 11-12 insoles are really easy to find here.

I did actually find a shoe store fairly close to my hostel, though I fear for a sizing issue. Worst case, I hike in old sneakers and really trash them.

It’s been totally overcast since I left Federal Way, which at the time, wasn’t. I actually haven’t seen the sky since Tuesday morning on the way to the airport. I mean, I guess kind of while flying, but even then, lots of clouds. Nonetheless it has remained around 15-20 (about 60-68F) with a humidity of about 70%. It did rain for a little bit, but never enough to keep me comfortable. I need to figure out a better outfit for long walk days. Maybe one that doesn’t have a suit jacket but still looks okay? Probably not.

So I left the hostel at about 08:00, and by 11:30 my water bottle was empty. After the first 10km, (around 15:30) I had enough. I broke down and made my first purchase. I went into a grocery store to get a first look at a data point for cost of foodbits, and I grabbed a 2L bottle of green tea, which I have now consumed about 1.25L of, the rest is in my water bottle. This was 4 times more than anything in a vending machine (500mL vs 2000), and only 100 yen more than the cheapest I saw, so yeah.

Apples are expensive, they’re about 150 yen each. For those that don’t know, the easiest way to convert to USD, is just add a decimal after the first two digits, so $1.50 for a ballpark estimate. It’s actually $1.85, but if you pad the initial estimate by about 20%, you have a really easy close approximation. If you want to be exact, right now it’s 81 yen to the dollar, or $1.23 USD to 100 yen.

Speaking of vending machines, they are everywhere prices per block are pretty consistent, but once you go a block or two they might be 50-100 yen different, with the average being 150 yen for most drinks. Seriously, every block. Oh, and Starbucks? There’s one at the Sky Tree. Can’t escape them.

Okay, food and pictures. I should probably have more than tea and water today. Just a thought. However, on the topic of pictures, between the few I took on the flight, my night shoot, and about half of today, I took about 570 pictures and chewed through the 80% of the battery that was left. Good thing I have a spare. Turns out, the vibration reduction and active focus in my new lens uses a bit more power than the kit lens. Who would have guessed?


Right, first before I forget. I missed a step in the directions I had to find the hostel last night, and then just continued walking about what seemed right on one of the arterial roads. Eventually I gave up, crossed the street, and jumped into a taxi. The driver wasn’t familiar with the hostel (or much English, but hey, “lost” and numbers seemed to work), he tried reading the map a bit, but it didn’t have all the streets off their path named. He gave up and used the address in the GPS. It turns out the GPS would have him make a U-turn, and drop me off to walk the rest of the way, as prior to crossing the street to get the cab, was literally as close as a car would get me. We both laughed, I thanked him, and walked the last two blocks.

Then the doors were locked. They were sliding glass doors that said “Push.” I was confused. I tried sliding them with the handle. No go. I knocked on the glass. Eventually someone noticed I was too tired to figure it out and came to open the doors. Turns out the handle I thought was for sliding, is actually a very tall button that you lightly push to trigger the door which is just emulating the visual appearance of a more traditional sliding door.

Weren’t you getting food?


23:20 UTC+9

Got food. Not sure what it was called, the place nor the food. Not in Romanji. I’m also pretty sure they were getting ready to close but didn’t tell me to leave (nor did they have times listed)… so that was nice of them. It was a second floor restaurant with sunken tables that each had a hibachi griddle. As I have no idea what is going on, they were kind and helped me cook the dish the way it was supposed to be cooked.

The dish was some sort of lettuce, green onions, bean curd, maybe soy nuts in some sort of milk or milk like substance with something else in it, but I don’t know what. To cook it you oil down the surface and dish the solids out of the bowl. Then you jab them with the two large metal spatula type things until they start to brown, then mix it up a bit, and let the unbrowned parts cook a bit. Once that’s good you spread the contents into a circle and you pour the liquid into the center slowly stirring the fluids. Once a thin sheet of burned fluid forms it should be time to mix it all up. Start by eating the tasty sheet of burned whatever, which is exposed as you dish up the rest of the food, and then carefully enjoy, because it’s still really hot.

It appears I may be returning there with a roommate on Saturday. He seemed pretty curious, and thankfully also can read a little.

Anyway, I was going to charge the laptop bit, however it appears I’m going to fall asleep in a moment


So see you all in a few hours!

07:30 UTC+9

Cleaned up some of the text above and am now working on pictures.