For those of you who followed our blog last year, you might remember the RF scale – a scale of 1 to 10 that helped us rank the randomness of our adventures. In just a few hours off the plane, we’ve quickly decided that Tokyo deserves it’s own RF scale, where a 1 in Tokyo is a 9 anywhere else-seriously folks, we’re going to need a bigger scale. So as you read on, please note that a 1 in Tokyo is equivalent to waking up after a massage, covered in mud and tribal war paint (an RF 9 in our Belize blog).
In a city whose population swells from 11 million to 30 million during the day, the sights, sounds and sheer density of people here is beyond overwhelming. A few things that stand out:
- The rules: there are rules here for everything. Shoes on when entering a room. But not if you are going down a step. Then slippers on. But don’t wear the slippers on a tatami mat. [Don't forget: make sre you change to the toilet slippers for the bathroom but don't wear them back into the restaurant! - BP] No blowing your nose in public. No eating or drinking while walking. Carry small dogs in a purse – it makes people smile (seriously, that’s a sign). “Drunken behaviour – do it at home”. Don’t rest your chopstocks in the rice. Don’t point at people. And there are so many bowing rules, I haven’t figured them out yet.
- The toilets: Straight out of the Jetsons – you can adjust water temperature, bidet spray direction, turn on the “Power deodorizer” and of course, play flushing sounds to disguise what you are doing. The seats are heated – thereby quashing the hygenic desire to hover (you girls know what I’m talking about here). Then again, you might be unfortunate enough to find that your only available option is a squat toilet – which is exactly as it sounds.
- The vending machines: You could pretty much live out of the vending machines which line every street. From hot coffee in a can to giant Coke Zeros to beer, the options are endless (albeit not too healthy).
- The architecture: If they design it, they will build it.
- The food- while I hope much of what we’re seeing on menus is just bad translation, there isn’t a lot here they dont’t eat: from chicken butt, tail, neck and cartiledge on a stick, no animal part is spared – the Japanese make the Argentinians and their taste for glands and innards seem wasteful. More on food later.
So all in all, Day 1 in Tokyo ranks an RF 5, on the newly defined scale.