I loved this building.
I loved this building.

This one's for Carl!
This one's for Carl!

So much that I snapped it again.
So much that I snapped it again.

And snapped it again.
And snapped it again.

The Japanese sure love their umbrellas.  Just slip yours in here, twist the key and it locks it in place where it will safely await your return.
The Japanese sure love their umbrellas. Just slip yours in here, twist the key and it locks it in place where it will safely await your return.

This was annexed to something called The Cocoon Tower.
This was annexed to something called The Cocoon Tower.

Hmmm....Not exactly sure...
Hmmm....Not exactly sure...But it's a great bit of camo.

The Eye of Shinjuku
The Eye of Shinjuku

...Where the prices are heavenly!
...Where the prices are heavenly!

Tommy Lee Jones is never without his Boss Coffee.
Tommy Lee Jones is never without his Boss Coffee.

The one on the left says
The one on the left says "Drive Wellness" while the one on the right says "Holy Ground Banana Fish". So, which one makes LESS sense?


And again!
And again!


Girandole selection round #2.
Girandole selection round #2.

Claire is partial to caramel, fleur de sel, and duck confit.  Not necessarily together.
Claire is partial to caramel, fleur de sel, and duck confit. Not necessarily together.

Benedicte ready for some pastry action.
Benedicte ready for some pastry action.
I have the eyes of a crazy person!
I have the eyes of a crazy person!

I must say that one of the great things about traveling alone is being able to improvise your own schedule without fear of holding anyone up, being held up by anyone, being dragged somewhere you don’t want to go, or dragging someone where they don’t want to go.  I woke up at a reasonably early hour this morning and spent an hour perusing the audition links Rob Cooper was kind enough to forward me.  I watched the Chloe‘s, Scott’s (aka Nash‘), and Tamara’s, and weighed in on my favorites.  For what it’s worth.  The final decision rests in Brad and Robert’s infinitely capable hands.  Tonight or tomorrow, I’ll check out the Eli’s and Stasiak’s.  As for Dr. Rush, I believe they already have someone in mind…

I should also make special mention of my unexpectedly vigorous work-out.  I usually opt for a treadmill run, anywhere between a speed-walking 4.5 to a full-out-sprint 9 as a means of getting my heart rate up.  So, today, I was just completing a minute at level 9 when I pressed the arrow key to drop my speed – only the machine malfunctioned and, instead of dropping my speed, it actually increased it to a full 10.  Assuming I had pressed the wrong key, I tried again – which raised my speed to a breakneck 12.5!  I’ve never run so fast in my life.  I’m talking serial-killer-is-chasing-you fast!  I had to hit the WALK key, manually enter my preferred speed, then confirm my choice before the machine finally dropped me down a much-appreciated 3.0 snail’s pace.  Yes, I was almost killed.  But on the bright side, I really worked up a good sweat.

Hey, this morning I bore witness to my very first traffic accident, albeit a minor one, when a dinky mini-van knocked over a vespa and sent its rider sprawling.  The reactions (or, more appropriately, lack thereof) of both parties reflected a cultural and social mindset most unlike its Western counterpart.  Instead of threats or insults, no words were exchanged.  The driver of the vespa calmly picked himself up, righted his vehicle, and threw the driver of the mini-van a look that suggested his feelings had been hurt and he was sorely disappointed in the way things had turned out.  The driver of the minivan, meanwhile, bowed his head in shame, almost shrinking down behind his dashboard and observed a moment of self-reflection before putting his vehicle in drive and motoring off.

So, yesterday, I had the opportunity to practice my Japanese.  Today, it was French as I met up with two lovely Parisian travelers in Shinjuku.  Benedicte and Claire are actually visiting from Singapore which has served as their home away from home for several months now.  We connected online, then met up this afternoon at Shinjuku Station’s Eye of Shinjuku wall piece.  The colored glass object d’art is one of many eye-catching works in this, the city’s bawdy district.  Anyway, after spending the morning walking around snapping shots of bizarrely beautiful architecture, I met up with the ladies from France.  Benedicte has a wonderful sense of humor.  When she asked me what I did, I told her that I was a producer on a science fiction series: Stargate: Atlantis.  She knew Atlantis, but admitted she’d never watched an episode.  I suggested that after meeting me, that would change as she would no doubt check out the show now.  No, she informed me, deadpan – Probably not.  Claire was very quiet at first but opened up considerably when we started discussing food.  She practiced her English; I practiced my French.

We went to the 45th floor of the Tokyo Metropolitan Building and checked out the view, then caught a cab to the Park Hyatt (MY home away from home on my last visit here two years ago) and enjoyed a plethora of wonderful desserts at the Girandole café.  The girls found my love of pastries endlessly amusing.  Apparently, in France, it’s not a particularly manly obsession.  We talked travel, they invited me to visit them in Singapore, and Benedicte told me about her visit to Norway where grass grows on the tops of houses and people have to mow their roofs (? – Or, at least that’s what I was able to gather from her rapidfire French).  Then, it was off a nearby museum for them, back to the hotel for me in preparation for my dinner at Ryugin.

On my way in to the hotel, I stopped by a convenience store and picked up what appeared to be a tube of toothpaste.  To be perfectly honest, even after using the stuff, I can’t say with all certainty that I haven’t been brushing my teeth with peppermint foot ointment.

38 thoughts on “November 28, 2008: Tokyo Trip Day #6, My Morning Run Almost Ends in Disaster, Shinjuku Avec Mes Amis!

  1. I must have missed the lawn-roofed houses when I visited Norway, more’s the pity. Most of the houses I saw had very shiny (varnished) roof tiles instead.

    I wonder if mowing the roof is as much about cutting down dandelion infestations before they bloom as it is keeping the grass in check? *grin*

  2. “mystery light green liquid” all the weird food you have daringly tasted and you didn’t try this???? lol I have to admit I am so envious of you for two reasons. 1. you seem to have cured your waking up at 3:30 in the am and are sleeping 8-9 hours, that’s so cool. 2. me being a mirgrainuer and loving chocolate makes life a challenge, I am so jealous of all the chocolate you are able to eat ( actually I ‘m jealous of anyone who can eat chocolate). So I either need a vacation or a vacation to Japan to cure my sleep issues and as far as the migraines, I don’t know what to do about that.

    Be safe, thanks for the cyber tours!

  3. I think both the sayings on the jackets make no sense, but I am sure to them it means something, you should of asked them. In fact, I am surprised you didn’t.

    It seems there is a patern of meeting mostly women online to meet you, hummmm.

    Mowing roofs, I don’t think so, it’s bad enough you have to do the yard. I am afraid of heights, so, if I lived in Norway, I’d have to have astro turf.

    I was definately picturing you running at the 12.5. Just think you will be ready in case a serial killer is on your tail some day. Maybe the machine sensed something you don’t know yet.

  4. It is good you are a kindly soul. Given how the accident you obverved played out, can you imagine how the hotel staff would have reacted to the thought of having almost harmed a guest? They might have felt obliged to have an assistant manager commit seppeku to demonstrate their shame at the machine’s malfunction(or at failing to account for the inability of a westerner to properly use their equipment;whichever applies). Just glad you didn’t have to experience the effeciency of Tokyo EMS after that little mishap.
    Looks like you’re having a blast, though I am a bit disappointed you had work intrude on your vacation. Thanks for keeping us informed on your adventures, and just think, it may have been the Japanese version of Preperation H you used to brush your teeth with…

  5. It’s amazing how civilized they are even when it involves a crash, minor one but still. Here in America that is grounds for a fight, destruction of others property, lawyers, police, yelling, screaming, etc.! Wow.

    Have fun Joe.

  6. A panda walks into a café. He orders a sandwich, eats it then draws a gun and fires two shots in the air.
    “Why?” asks the confused waiter, as the panda makes towards the exit. The panda produces a badly punctuated wildlife manual and tosses it over his shoulder. “I’m a panda,” he says, at the door. “Look it up.” The waiter turns to the relevant entry and, sure enough, finds an explanation. “Panda. Large black-and-white bear-like mammal, native to China. Eats, shoots and leaves.”

    So, punctuation does matter, even if it is only occasionally a matter of life and death. (From “Eats, Shoots & Leaves”, The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation! by Lynn Truss)

    “I watched the Chloe‘s, Scott’s (aka Nash‘), and Tamara’s, and weighed in on my favorites. For what it’s worth. The final decision rests in Brad and Robert’s infinitely capable hands. Tonight or tomorrow, I’ll check out the Eli’s and Stasiak’s. As for Dr. Rush, I believe they already have someone in mind…”

    Chloe’s, Scott’s, and Tamara’s? Eli’s and Stasiak’s? Singular possesives instead of simple plurals. Sorry, but it was really bugging me.

  7. Having once lived in Norway for a couple of years I can tell you that people that own cabins in the mountains do grow grass on the roofs (it’s great for insulation) and although they do mow them, they used to let the animals eat the grass in ye olden days.

  8. “I have the eyes of a crazy person!”

    And you’re just noticing this? 😉

    “I must say that one of the great things about traveling alone is being able to improvise your own schedule without fear of holding anyone up, being held up by anyone, being dragged somewhere you don’t want to go, or dragging someone where they don’t want to go.”

    Exactly the reason I prefer shopping alone. I am notorious for going to places with a group and just disappearing and going off on my own. I even take my own car, just in case I want to ‘escape’. The only exception is that I do love to have my husband along, especially when discovering new places and things. But he’s VERY easy to travel with because he’s a ‘go with the flow’ sort, and doesn’t really care what he does, as long as it’s something other than sitting at home.

    RE: the treadmill mishap – 😆 Uh, I mean… 🙁 Glad you’re okay… *snarfle*

    “Apparently, in France, it’s not a particularly manly obsession.”

    I like a man who’s not afraid to embrace his inner French tart. 😀

    “To be perfectly honest, even after using the stuff, I can’t say with all certainty that I haven’t been brushing my teeth with peppermint foot ointment.”

    Wait. With such a refined palate as yours, and you still can’t tell the difference? *shakes head in dismay* I am never gonna take your word on what tastes good, and what doesn’t, ever again. *grabs bag of Sahale Ksar Pistachios and shamelessly munches away*

    RE: Auditions – Are you excited about the auditions? Did they look promising? How soon before we start hearing the final choices? Thankies.


  9. Note to self: pack enough toothpaste when visiting Japan.
    Apparently the shops still don’t carry Crest. But I’m sure you can buy baking soda.

    I love that building too. It reminds me of a giant _____.

  10. What is that chestnut dessert thing made out of? It looks like a nest of spaghetti, which I’m sure isn’t right.

    Here’s a totally out of the blue question: did Fondy design some of your unique cufflinks (like the pug ones), or were able to find them because of her jewelry connections? Or did you just happen to spot them on a trip to Costco?

    The turkey was so good from yesterday that I had some leftovers for breakfast this morning. GeekBoy is incredulous that we have needed him to unload the dishwasher four times in two days. He didn’t realize Thanksgiving involves not only lots of food, but also lots of dirty dishes. Those pesky chores have really cut into his video game time.

  11. Joe
    Careful those treadmills do have a mind of their own. And yes I have seen the exact same thing happening at the YMCA where I go workout and do Karate. I do use these things but only to do my speed walking.

    Hey Joe those stationary bikes seem safe. Why don’t you try those?


  12. That building looks a little bit like London’s Big Pickle. Am I wrong?

    Same architect, or same architectural school? It’s very scifi, but I guess I’m not ready for the Brave New World yet.

  13. Yes, I Do believe they have the need to mow their roofs in Norway.

    Or at least have very agile goats.

    Very interesting building indeed. Offices?

    And, my word, those pastries look decadent, manly or not! Hard to believe it is day 6 already. Hope you continue to ahve a safe & wonderful trip.

  14. You mean you didn’t give the accident victims a quick lesson on proper after accident etiquette? ….Imediately call the cops, get citation for $350.00, take an online traffic school to get points off so your insurance premium doesn’t go through the roof. Do’h!!!

  15. Since Atlantis is almost finishing, I thought I would make a final invite to my stargate post at http://www.abbaskarimjee.wordpress.com [copy-paste address into your browser]The post has latest news, occasional reviews, polls of upcoming episodes and recent episodes, trailers, schedule information for Sky One , TMN and Sci Fi viewers, ratings of all episodes this season with analyisis and comparisions, a discusion centre with lots of discussion ideas and aweekly Atlantis trivia.We also have tributes section in the works.

    Have a nice trip!

  16. I noticed that you and others are doing the V sign with your fingers… I remembered a Japanese tourist doing that in every photo taken of him whilst I was in Sydney..

    Is that compulsory? lol

    Ah of course Benedict is Parisian, check out the beret!!

    Gosh that building is wow… unusual..

  17. Hi Mr M.,
    Love the pics… and the word-painted image of you trying to keep up while the treadmill went mad was hilarious (sorry). The pastries look awesome, and what was your favourite building for?

    I think ‘Holy Ground Banana Fish’ makes less sense. ‘Drive Wellness’ just sounds typical asian English.

    Still awaiting a tour of the shower buttons… 🙂

  18. Hey Joe!

    Very nice photos of Tokyo today, including more of that magnificent skyline! In regards to the Sizzler, as mentioned on Wikipedia, there’s also some in Australia, China, Indonesia, Singapore, and Thailand. Some food for thought. 😉

    Thanks as always!

    – Enzo Aquarius

  19. Wow, I didn’t know that Jewel S. was up for a Gemini for SGA…awesome! No win but really freaking cool none the less. I am not used to seeing sci fi tv up like that.

    Way to go!!

  20. Deni B. sorry you are wrong, and Joe is right. He is talking about their audition tapes, so it would be possessive.

  21. Mr. M. I’ve been sharing your blog with some friends, and in particular one who rates hotels by their bathtubs. I’ve been reminded that you have not yet given us the promised bathtub tour. Could you, would you please remember to provide us this vital insight into Japanese culture? Many thanks.

  22. Yes, but there is a difference between singular possesive and plural possesive! What do you think, Joe? If it were a singular possesive, the “the” should not have been there. Have a good night, everybody!

  23. I think I would have gone running in the city instead… getting lost is the best way to learn your way around!!! (Admittedly, I’ve thus far only done this in cities where I know the language!!!) And that way you control the pace 😉

    I cannot wait to see the team Carl and Brad put together… every day my expectations get higher and higher!!! I’m so excited, and I just can’t hide it… 😀 😀 😀

    Wow… North American drivers could really learn a lesson from those Japanese drivers! Especially when traffic gets crazy, like today’s Black Friday madness.
    Speaking of Black Friday, I got mad at Target for having Sex and the City, The OC, Family Guy, and House seasons on sale for $13.50 or cheaper, but the Stargate ones were their normal price. Blehh! Got up early for prices I could have gotten any old time!

    Keep the Tokyo pictures coming!!! And thanks for sharing your adventures with us!!!

  24. Eep! The bold looks kinda…bold. Back to italics, I suppose. 😛

    Is that really Carl? I hope he only reads the main entry, and not all of my our whining down here…

    Good news! I got my windows done! 😀 One autumn task done…now, to rake all the leaves. Ugh.

    Had a family feast at my folks tonight – and in between the turkey and the pumpkin pie, I shared your toilet video with everyone! Quite the conversation piece, it was! And now mom wants one. 🙄

    Any news on Jason? I hope he’s doing okay!

    Any news on the pups back home? Did they get over their tummy troubles?

    Do you still have both of your kidneys?

    Any chance we’ll see a mailbag while you’re away?

    Continue enjoying your trip!


  25. Foot ointment would be the safer of some options that come in a tube…

    I’m glad you are having fun in Japan. Hopefully it leaves you rejuvenated rather than exhausted.

  26. Never been to Norway, but one day I looked out the window here in Australia, and our neighbor was on his roof using a weed eater (or whippersnipper as Aussies call it).

    To anyone who claims Costco as a customer is bad…I still say working at Wal-Mart is far worse…check this out…

    Worker trampled to death at Long Island Wal-Mart during Black Friday stampede

    Friday, November 28th 2008, 9:27 AM

    A worker died after being trampled and a woman miscarried when hundreds of shoppers smashed through the doors of a Long Island Wal-Mart Friday morning, witnesses said.

    The unidentified worker, employed as an overnight stock clerk, tried to hold back the unruly crowds just after the Valley Stream store opened at 5 a.m.

    Witnesses said the surging throngs of shoppers knocked the man down. He fell and was stepped on. As he gasped for air, shoppers ran over and around him.

    Apparently in my small hometown of Zanesville, OH, a woman drew a knife out at another customer as they fought over a doll. And there was a fist fight over the digital cameras.

    All in the Christmas Spirit I guess. Thank God I do not work there any more! Moving on to bigger and better things. I heard back from the NPS about a Park Ranger job in Mendicino County, California. So, hopefully, with any luck, come next year, I’ll be living there. 😀 Wish me luck!

  27. Your travelogue is really fun! I am enjoying it immensely, and kind of feel like I am traveling along with you! I eagerly look forward to this blog every evening when I get home from work.
    I hope you make many more trips and take us along.
    Thanks so much

  28. Am enjoying your photos, Cap’n Joe.

    Love the outdoor sculpture, the architecture (Prada bldg., the lattice-work cigar/electric shaver/whale profile/whatever); the stained glass, including the Shinjuku Eye; the signage, Sizzler, MYLORD, the Boss (good ol’ Tommy Lee, bless his heart and the Men in Black ); the interesting people you’ve met and their stories; getting to speak other languages and know people you otherwise wouldn’t; and the malapropisms, LOL.

    It’s so funny to see another culture indiscriminately use English as graphic art. (We do that with Asian characters, though, don’t we? Oops…) My brother saw these T-shirts in Taiwan: a dainty grandmother was wearing a plain one with some butch and burly saying on it (can’t remember, darn), and a grandfather was wearing a short little cap-sleeved black T with the title “Princess” spelled out in rhinestones. Yours tops them. Holy Ground Banana Fish was hysterical! As you said, it makes no sense at all. Well, they do it for the decoration. We “collect” them for the comedy.

    Will we see any more videos? A tour of the bathtub? A bubblebath review (not “revue”!) after the fact? (A bubblebath does sound heavenly right now.) A Weird Food Purchase? Didn’t intend to sound off-putting the other day. Just meant you could feel free to grimace and gag around us if you really didn’t like something. …forgive?

    Were you still planning to visit one of the wacky theme restaurants for lunch? Would love to hear the commentary on one of them, LOL.

  29. I think I’ve worked out what the jackets mean.

    Holy ground banana fish make more sense including the hidden word at the end….Batman. There’s a deleted scene in Batman and Robin where they are trapped in a vat of you guessed it…..ground banana fish. You know they’re banana fish because they’re yellow. Robin reaches down to grab Batman’s grappling hook because Batman’s arms are trapped and Robin saves the day. It didn’t make the cut because Robin saving Batman – so uncool, plus there’s the whole slash vibe.

    Now the girl on the left is a keen golfer and all of that walking improves her health so she’s driving for wellness. It could have been putting wellness but driving takes more energy.

    Anyhoo there you go.

    Cheers, Chev

  30. You’ll have to teach them to do a proper peace sign, ‘cos what they’re doing is actually an offensive gesture in many countries. LOL!

    Cheers, Chev

  31. PMSL Oh dear, that was just what I needed this morning, a dose of Mr M’s narrativium.

    Great Piccies btw.

  32. I’m so pleased you are enjoying yourself. I enjoy travelling with friends & family but eventually you pass up unique opportunities or take them knowing everyone is humoring you. I love travelling alone. It’s great to indulge yourself without inconveniencing others. A few days away from my spouse & I appreciate how wonderful he is.

    I love that building. What is it ?
    I’m curious how you pick your companions.

  33. green said: “Hm. Looks a bit phallic.”

    I wonder if it comes with batteries… 😉

    (My first thought was that it looked like an electric razor…but now that you mention it…hm. )


  34. Thanks as always for sharing your varied and at times odd advantures Joe! 😛

    By the way, that is a really nice building! 🙂

  35. Ah Jewel lost the Gemini, that sucks!!

    Name changes and new additions. I knew that wasen’t the final cast list for Universe.

    Keep the updates coming Joe. I can’t wait to hear more!!!


    BTW….enjoy Japan

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