Day 8 - 3rd August 2001
Fukagawa Edo Museum & Shinjuku

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A completely fabricated street
I started the day with my usual American breakfast, and then I decided I would visit the Fukagawa Edo Museum. According to my guidebook, this is 15 minutes from the nearest station. I was not entirely convinced I could find the museum, but went there anyway. I arrived at the station, and was staring at the street map looking puzzled when a Japanese man asked if he could help me. I showed him on the map where I was going and he said that he was going the same way and would show me how to get there.

His English was not too good, but even so, I managed to find out that he was an architect who designed shops and public buildings, and that today was his day off and he was going out for lunch with his wife. Eventually, I got to the museum, and said goodbye to the Japanese couple.

The inside of a rice mill
The museum was really good. The single exhibit was a recreation of a Japanese street from Edo times. They had built seven buildings and filled them with the cutter of everyday life, as if the occupants had just gone out for a minute. It was very effective. As you watched, the lighting turned from daytime to dusk and back again. They even had an robotic cat which would meow at visitors as they entered.

After the museum, I took the train to Shinjuku to take a look around. There were plenty of huge skyscrapers, which reminded me of Hong Kong. There was a huge shopping centre, which contained an HMV which was very similar to a UK branch. One thing they had which they wouldn't have had in the UK was a stand for video game music! The Japanese definately have a different approach to video games than they do in the rest of the world. It's much more a part of mainstream culture, like TV and film, than it is in the rest of the world.

After that I visited an arcade. It was incredibly noisy and full of music based games. They even had one where you had to play a tribal drum in time with patterns displayed on screen. They also had a huge number of the obligatory strange looking mahjong games.

Drumming games: will they
catch on outside Japan?
One of my friends in London has a sister in Tokyo, called Heidi, and over the last week I have been emailing her, and arranged to meet up in Tokyo when I arrived. Tonight was the date we had arranged, so I went to meet Heidi and her boyfriend Mark outside a large department store in Ginza, and we found a nice place to eat outside, in a small alley nestled just underneath the train tracks. We had a Korean barbecue, which included barbecued chicken balls, chicken wings, aubergine, and pieces of beef. The food came in little trays, and we all shared from them, picking up pieces with our chopsticks. I had Sake with the meal, a Japanese drink which I hadn't tried before, and was quite nice, a little like watered-down Vodka! It was very busy, there were many shops around selling the same kind of food, packed with Japanese businessmen. We were lucky that Mark could speak Japanese, as they didn't have an English menu!

During the meal we had many interesting conversations, mainly about Japanese culture and language. They seemed very friendly, and are two very interesting people. Mark is originally from Scotland and has been living in Japan for 11 years. He works as a journalist for an English-language Japanese paper. Heidi is originally from London, and has been living here for 10 months, after spending 2 years living and working in Italy. Heidi works in a bar in Ginza.

I had a great time, and Mark very generously paid for the meal! After we had eaten at around 11:30 we parted ways and I took the train back to my hotel.

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