Big Trip 2002 - This is the Tokyo Tour

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Thursday morning, we took the subway to the Ginza where the Sony Building is. The shops in the Ginza, which is where all the high-end retailers are, open at 11AM. The shop employees are there early and polishing everything in sight. Even this alley was spotless. This is some sort of Honda sport wagon, not imported to the US. The media gives the impression that the Japanese drive around in shoeboxes, but the mix on the street is pretty evenly split between mini-cars, mid-size (if you count taxis), and large luxury cars. For a nation with a long-time economic recession, people are sure throwing a lot of yen around.

After some spirited discussion, we navigated from the subway to the Sony Building, where they had all their latest toys set up. The audio stuff, the video, the robotic dogs... And best of all, the new PlayStation2 game Gran Turismo Concept, which I thrashed handily. I also purchased a copy at a local store, knowing that it could work on our US model only if we could get a "mod chip". Alas, no genius has come up with one yet. (Still hoping...) Yes, that is Dennis, browsing and trying to hack Sony's in-house network.

I was not kidding about the robotic dogs, named Aibo. These are the cheap ones, only about $800. You can set them on all fours, but they immediately want to sit up and beg. They were animated, but there didn't seem to be much intelligence. There is an upscale model that is supposed to learn the moods of the owner and do tricks. I'll bet their best trick is eating batteries.

This is Dennis in front of the Sony Building. Pretty crowded, but evening is when the people really show up. There are many bars and clubs hidden away in the alleys and back streets. After Dennis tired of Sony (well before I did), he whiled away the hours in a gambling parlor that also had popular Japanese arcade games. No one seemed to think twice about it. At least they weren't comping him drinks.

After the Ginza, we headed for the Sunshine 80 building, where it is alleged that one can see Mt. Fuji on a clear day. Well, it was very clear, but we were unable to locate the Sunshine 80 building. We did find lots of anime shops and various other things to play with.

On the way back from the "trip" to Sunshine 80, we got pretty lost and wandered the mean streets of Tokyo. I can't say that we ever fear for our lives, but our dogs were getting pretty darn tired. On one back street, we stumbled across a skate park, where kids were practicing their latest moves. Most of them had a lot of practicing to do.

The best thing about it was that it was totally unexpected. It was like a little slice of Southern California. And we got to sit down for a while and rest those dogs. Of course, we did find our way back and had a grat learning experience.

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