Tokyo, Part un

Beer and sodas, anytime you want!

Beer and sodas, anytime you want!

September ’13

Even in the plane, I didn’t really realized what I was doing, or where I was going. It seemed so strange that in only 20 hours I would be on the other side of the world, unpacking my bike to ride a place I didn’t really know much about. But it was ok, maybe it was just the terrible airplane food (thanks to Air Canada for providing some of the worst airborne meals so far), I got back to reality.

Crushed box. No evident damage. 30 minutes in the airport to realize not many people are going to speak english here. Bus. ‘Limousine Bus’ that is, luxury. Catching a glimpse of the rice fields, sun setting down. Building the bike in a hotel’s parking lot. Ride to my host’s flat. Boom, straight to sleep. Next night, first earthquake.

Tokyo is great. It’s compact. That’s the best word I can find to describe japanese cities. It’s modernism packed in a small package. Carefully packaged. Everything seems to have a relation to the space they take. There’s the stacked car parkings and the underground bike ones. Then there’s the houses, small and efficiently built. And the overlooking apartment towers. Even the price of meat and vegetable is often quite relatable to the space it needs to grow. Coming from Canada, the price of potatoes is a shocker.

Full of contrasts. The tall buildings meet the nicely tended parks. From giant neon boulevard to the quiet sidestreets where you wish you came a hundred years ago. Also, there’s a corner store everywhere you look. Like home, but they have sushis.

More like an agglomeration of different cities, or very large neighborhoods, each with a slightly different look and feel. The electronic-town. The expat’s corner. And with so many inter-weaved public transport systems. It all makes for some very huge train stations, filled with a constant flow of black-pant-white-shirt workers.

Those bike parkings have nothing to envy to Amsterdam. Where everyone owns a bike, they all ride on the sidewalk! Except for the occasional road racer, they take their ‘grandma’s bike’ everywhere, grocery, train station, etc, using sparingly identified bike paths on the sidewalks. Don’t go in the street! Dangerous! Not really, actually. A great place to bike for sure.

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