Friday 6 May, last day in Tokyo and my mission list is long. A 5am start to make it to the Tsukiji Fish Market, scheduled to be moved to some sanitized new location in 2012. But awaking and aching, I decided that I needed sleep more than the experience of a mind-bogglingly endless fish fest.
Four hours later I get vertical and head out to tackle the rest of the list: fashion capitals of Tokyo. From the, some would say, fading ex-supermodel of Ginza; to the young and bleeding edge Takeshidori in Harujuku; with the reigning retail superstar Shinjuku in the middle.
In this process, I would get to ride some of the subways and make it all the way around the JR Yamanote line.
But on exiting the hotel complex, I was confronted by rain and cold and so I turned left into Wing Takanawa (a department store) and browsed the fabulous clothes, deli and home areas.
After a brief browse I came to an obvious conclusion: anyone can look like a million dollars if you, well, spend a million dollars. (Or at least the few hundreds of dollars that a single item goes for.) I might add to my plan on spending lottery winnings a little spree at Tomorrowland.
Wing window shopping completed left me three floors up and passing the IMAX theatre, part of our crazy, many-thousand roomed hotel complex. On show a mere half-hour later? T-Rex in 3-D. How could I resist? I?d never seen a 3-D movie so it was a no brainer and a lot of fun.
50 minutes later I finally put on my raincoat and headed out to Ginza. One $50 umbrella later and it was off to Shinjuku. But there is only so much neck craning and neon that one person can stand, and it was way past lunch time. There was only one solution: Mos Burger.
The Mos Burger experience came highly recommended by one Phil. At the time I wondered who would want a humble hamburger when in the land of endless sushi, tempura, shabu-shabu, croquets etc. The truth is that there is a limit to how many consecutive Japanese meals I can stomach, and I had reached it.
But finding this haven for hamburgers, the fast food to restore the damage done by a certain arch rival (hah, hah), was not as easy as it might seem. It involved wandering through blocks of Shunjuku, past ?love hotels?, asking the cool kids, and supplying lots of amusement that someone was on a Mos Burger mission.
But eventually the discreet red M appeared in the square outside the movie complex. Phil?s rep was on the line, as I was exhausted, damp and hungry. I ordered one spicy Mos Burger and sat down in a tiny booth. A few minutes later, heaven on a bun arrived.
Sigh, thankfully there is no Mos Burger in New York, or I?d be in trouble. The spicy sauces, tender beef burger devoid of filler, salad? it?s too good to be true. So good that I had to restrain myself from ordering a second.
Powered by Mos, I wound my way back to the train station and applying my Mos karma, navigated the now rush hour commuters to get on the training for Harajuku.
I had intended to simply take a stroll up and down Tashitadori. Easy enough, seeing as the stores are crammed and the merchandise a mixed up treasure trove? but if you spot a treasure, you?re hooked: funky designer wear in lovely natural (silk, cotton, linen) fabrics for a great price. Thank goodness Jay let me use his suitcase. Those expandable zippers work like a charm.
At 7:15pm it was time to get on the train to Shibuyu and be one of the many around Hachiko (the Akita dog statue), to meet my friend and Tokyo resident, Kristen, for a Pan-Asian dinner. We did a lot of walking to and from the restaurant ? thanks to me keeping track of all my shopping bags but not my handbag. (True to Japanese stories, my bag was safely being held for me.)
Then it was time for us both to head home (11pm and the last trains run), pack and get ready to get on planes heading to other parts of the planet.