The Great American Reach Around - "Appalachia and Japan"
Mike "Stoat Box" Paxman
Offering nearly everything from all over the world at a greatly inflated price, Tokyo is the ultimate easy place to live. There are so many different influces on Japan's culture, it's quite easy to take a ten minute train and think you've traveled a thousand miles. The sheer difference between the hairspray-coated, desperately-trying-to-be-cool, but-ultimately-being-meterosexual Shibuya and majestic, traditional Asakusa is so vast it's like an entirely different country.
For those on the cutting edge of technology, or the nerdy edge of anime, Akihabara's electric town is a mecca of everything that drives women away. Places of historical significance like Asakusa, Kawagoe and the nearby Kamakura are bound to keep the guidebook travelers happy, and those who just want to have a good time can hit the billions of bars and clubs in Shibuya or Shinjuku and have some good, clean fun.
The best thing about Japan is it's food. Recently I discovered Sukiyaki, which involves cooking meat in a boiling communal soup, then dipping it in raw egg. You can get little balls of dough with Octopus, called Takoyaki for basically no money at all, and the businessman favourite Chinese Ramen is sold on nearly every street corner. However, if you aren't adventurous in the food department, do not come to Japan. Unless you are willing to pay a ridiculous price, every Japanese attempt at western food tastes like a dog already ate it. Twice. You have been warned.
The Japanese are very proud of their "four distinct seasons". They don't think any other country has them, and nobody has had the heart to tell them otherwise yet. This is an interesting belief because it is absolutely untrue. Quite often a day of thunderstorms and roaring wind will appear in a midweek of boiling sun. The Japanese weather report consists of spinning a big wheel and stopping it wherever the reporter damn well feels like. If you do visit, have a backup plan for rain, because it will rain at random.
If you can stand crowds and crowds of people, unbearable heat or unstoppable rain and bizarre food, you will love Tokyo. If you don't mind being stared at, that is.
I hope you have enjoyed this installment of the Great American Reach Around. Next week we'll be heading even deeper into the South and revisiting Europe for a very metal surprise.