Volume 6, Issue 111; 14 Nov 2003

Wandering through Tokyo. (Updated 19 Nov 2003)

Ian and I wandered around Tokyo a bit on Friday. But first, we had lunch.

Our first stop was a park and temple complex in Asakusa.

A random walk through the streets around the temple turned up a dozen or more Pachinco parlors. Photos don’t do Pachinco justice: they don’t capture the cacophony of clattering, bells, and music.

Maybe I’m out of touch. I haven’t gone into a video game arcade in earnest since Xevious went out of fashion and the only arcade I’ve seen since then is the little one in the local mall at home.

The computer knows who’s going to win before it starts, right?

I didn’t get photographs of the other elaborate horse racing game: a virtual steeple chase with an enormous monitor showing the thundering horses with changing camera angles and apparently dynamic reporting of the progress of the race.

If all this racing has made you thirsty, have some sweat.

Pocari Sweat is a Gatorade-like beverage, I’m told. “Sweat,” on reflection, isn’t an unreasonable name for one of these electrolyte balancing sorts of drinks even if it has odd connotations for those of us from the west. I’ll have to try some.

I’m not sure what these little tubes are. I guessed lipstick at the time, but in retrospect that seems an awfully clueless guess.

Masatake E. Hori kindly sent me some mail explaining that they’re personal seals called “Hanko”. Each of them is engraved with a particular family name. They can be used instead of a signature, for example to receive packages. I’ve photographed a collection of inexpensive Hanko, but formally registered versions are available and can be used for contracts or opening a bank account.

We ended the day with a stroll from Ueno down to Akihabara, the discount electronics district. Electronics abounded, but it didn’t move me. Maybe because the prices weren’t that good. Maybe because I saw too many things I wished had been less expensive.

Thank you, Masatake, for the explanations.