Thursday, September 20, 2007

Tokyo Day 2 - Himiko Boat, Asakusa Redux

Today was sort of a "makeup" day from our last trip. On every vacation, you mess up a few things, days don't go quite as planned, or you discover things that you hadn't budgeted time for but wish you had. For us last October, all those things happened on Odaiba, and on the last day of our trip. So today, it was back to Odaiba to finish what we'd started.

Of course, that meant finally taking the Leiji Matsumoto-designed Himiko boat on a cruise down the Sumida River from Asakusa to Odaiba. We missed the last boat on our last day in 2006, so this time we did it early. I really wanted to go at night - they light the boat up in neon from floor to ceiling - but there isn't a trip to Odaiba after 3:30 or so. So we decided to just take the first ride we could get by the time we made it to the terminal.

Unfortunately for us - or fortunately, depending on your point of view - our leisurely pace in getting to the terminal meant we missed the earliest boat, leaving us with a 2 hour wait for the next trip at 1:20PM. So we decided to kill some time by visiting Akasuka Temple, which we only sort of did in 2006.

I still think this particular temple's an overrated tourist trap, but it gave us something to do, at least. It was really hot again, though, and I was again drenched by the time we ate lunch. If there's one thing I really have a hard time with in Japan, it's the tropical weather that seems to last through November.

The Himiko itself was way cool, and obviously unlike any other boat I've ever sailed on. If you don't know who Leiji Matsumoto is, here's his wikipedia link. He's responsible for some of the most enduring animated titles in Japan, and he's pretty much a household name among both kids and adults - he's been around forever, so by now most adults have grown up with him. The Himiko really does look like a spaceship straight out of one of his anime titles.

Underneath the skin, though, the Himiko is basically a run-of-the-mill water taxi. It's slow and smelly, although the interior is done up special and characters from the Galaxy Express series act as tour guides. It's actually kind of weird hearing Maetel wax on about Tokyo Tower. The Himiko also has a glass roof, so it gets pretty hot inside, even with the air conditioning on full blast. It's like a greenhouse.

The trip from Asakusa to Odaiba takes about 55 minutes. The sightseeing is really not all that incredible, honestly - Tokyo's skyline just isn't much to get excited about, at least until you get near Odaiba. Odaiba itself is pretty interesting, as is Rainbow Bridge and the Tokyo Tower. But the main attraction is the boat, and if you're a Leiji Matsumoto fan, sailing on the Himiko is like experiencing his world first-hand.

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About This Blog

This is increasingly not a blog about Alphabet City, New York. I used to live in the East Village and work on Avenue B, but I no longer do. Why don't I change the name if I'm writing about Japan and video games and guitars? Because New Yorkers are well-rounded people with varied interests, and mine have gone increasingly off the rails over the years. And I don't feel like changing the name. I do still write about New York City sometimes.


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