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Last trains and late rides

July 24, 2010

Having a party in Tokyo has some definite pluses that need to be accounted for (not including that this isn’t my house)

1) By the time most of the guests have left, most of the cleaning has been done. I have never had a party here where I spent time cleaning up after everyone was gone. Well, not more that a few loose ends anyway.

2) All but your closest friends vanish simultaneously around midnight. While it is sad to see everyone head off to the last train and the evening come to a close, there is also something refreshing about still getting a decent night’s sleep. Last train culture stops that thing where parties start later and later and then go on past when everyone would be better off in bed. This way they start early, blossom at a nice hour, and then come to a satisfying (and clean) close.

3) Yummy, yummy treats. Everyone brings yummy yummy treats. I remember in my first year of art school we would have potlucks, and the boys would always show up with a pint of ice cream. This meant we always had 7 pints or more of ice cream (a plus) but little food of substance (a minus). Tonight we were almost overwhelmed by food: prawns, steak, puddings, cake, watermelon, cherries, loads of mushrooms, pumpkin….

I’m not saying parties in N.A. aren’t fun and awesome in their own ways, just that these are the aspects I enjoy here. We also were brought tons of drinks etc. The party divided into boys by the grill outside in the heat, girls inside eating in the air conditioning.

Lovely company all round, and a wonderful early b-day party for me. I’m so lucky, both here and at home, to have such good friends.

Of course the down side of parties here is the picking up people from the station(s) who don’t know the way. In a world without street names, and in a part of town with no grid, this can be hard. But the bikes came in handy and no one was lost for too long.

This flower from Little Bean (LB) is going on my bike basket I think. Or maybe on my handle bars. Like a vw.

Last night, I was feeling restless around 10:30pm, and I decided to head out for a late night bike-stroll. I thought, once I was out, I would see what Sotobori is like. It’s one of the 7 circle roads that go around Tokyo. The first is Uchibori (inner moat) which runs, you guessed it, around the palace. The next is Sotobori (outer moat), then Meiji Dori (which pretty much runs the same course as the Yamanote train line), then Yamate Dori, then Kannanna, and Kanpatchi. Wait, that’s 6. Well, anyway. I have mastered most Uchibori, and most of Yamate Dori and about half of Meiji Dori. The two Kans are too big as they are quite far out.

Anyway, Sotobori, the parts I have used before, have lovely wide sidewalks with a cycle lane. Friday nights are a bit hectic for riding, with drunken folks about near the stations, but it was warm (but not too hot) and quite a pleasant ride.

Somewhere around Akihabara, apparently Sotobori just disappears. By the time I got there it was about midnight, and being lost in not the best part of town was a bit icky. I went to the police box, but he was out on patrol (probably on his bike) but I parked in front while I tried to figure out on my phone GPS where I was. I subsequently got lost again shortly after in Kayabacho, but once I found Nihonbashi I found my way back onto Sotobori, and came back up through Tokyo, Ginza, and then Akasaka to home at around 1:15. It was a lovely ride, but the whole nature of Tokyo changes about 1am. The streets empty out as the last trains leave. Virtually all the cars on the road are taxis. As the pedestrians disappear, the homeless start to appear (although I have no idea from where). I was stunned at how many doorways through Ginza, Toranomon etc where filled with homeless. I wasn’t scared, I feel pretty safe here, but I was definitely more aware of my surroundings.

In some ways, I think the only real way to see Tokyo is at night. You can move along so smoothly, and it is cool and quieter. I think it would be great fun to do a 2am or 3am group ride. Midnight picnics and such….

Oh, and one of the people at the party, told us he rode his non geared bike from Sendai to Tokyo. That is like halfway down the main island over mountain terrain. On a shopping bike (chari). That’s PDC.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. wyoz permalink
    July 27, 2010 2:10 am

    Last trains and late rides -the ones you missed, brings back 20 year old memories!

    • July 28, 2010 3:46 am

      Well, luckily now I have a cell phone that will tell me train times, and a better command of the language. I still tell that story all the time, of dad dragging a lounger into the entrance way and waiting for me….

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