5 March 2010
Slept in late - 7.30! Kicked around the hostel until about 9.30 then checkout and set off to the Floating Garden Observatory. It's not a garden, it doesn't float and it's not really an observatory! It's more of an observation deck on top of a 42 story entrainment building. There's a couple of cinemas on the lower levels, about 30 floors of offices and at the top 3 viewing floors.
At the top of the escalator, before you have to pay to get any higher, there are a couple of windows. I wasn't sure if wanted to pay the premium to get to the roof because the weather was a bit funny. (You know that weather condition you get in England early in the morning where it's slightly overcast and foggy/hazy and you think "ooh it's going to be really nice later"? Well it's like that, but it hangs around all day and never gets nicer.) I thought ace, I can take a few snaps from here without paying, but they have put some magic stickers on the window which makes all your snaps come out grey! As it turned out, the weather was getting a bit better so I paid up and came in. Glad I did in end because there was more to see other than the outside.
There is a "Lover's Story" which is a real sycophantic / romantic experience depending on your viewpoint. You can buy heart shaped pad locks which they will engrave with Sharon & Kev then lock on to the guard rails on the roof. All around the windows there double seats with hearts stuck to their backs. the hearts are fluffy and have Christmas tree lights glued around the edges. Around the corner there are mocked up park benches with plants around them and a stand for you to rest your camera on. The worst/best bit was the "Room of Romance"! A cylindrical darkened room with 3 pedestal sofas each had bubbled cushions on top. The 3 sofas were equally spaced around a central white circle with a projection sprayed on it. As you sat on the seat and moved you bum the projection changed and different noises were heard. The projection pattern cycled though different styles of patterns (a bit like the visualisations you get with Windows Media Player but bum directed). I think it was based on the concept of making music together.
In principle, it is a romantic place but it was just sooo over the top. If there is one thing I have noticed about Japan, it is that all the girlie girls really go for big romance. The cinemas are full of soppy films and even Yako (girl from first day flight) said she liked romance films the best. Which is, on the whole, a bit surprising because none of the men here seem to give a toss! So if you can court well (in the traditional sense) you can probably have the pick of the bunch.
With the weather being what it is here, the best time to come to the Floating Garden Observatory is after dark. The floor on the roof sparkles (it has little lights in it) which adds to the romantic experience or "star walk" as they call it. Osaka lights up a night and the postcard photos from here look spectacular. Unfortunately, there's no more time for me, so I'll save that experience for next time.
On the way to Osaka (on the bullet) I had missed the photo opportunity of the Sanyo Fin - a very peculiar building that looks a bit like a massive speaker. The train out was from 10am to 12.36 and I estimated that I would pass it going the other way at 43 minutes from leaving. You wouldn't believe it but it was dead on. The efficiency of the transport system here really puts the UK to shame. Our timetables are basically advisory estimates!
Got back to Asakusa and found a posh cake shop. They cooked up a crème caramel in front of me for ¥400 (about £3.50) and it even came with a ceramic dish and ice pack!
Got chatting to an American bloke who was being shown around by a Japanese couple. The woman was wearing the full kimono so got a really good look and asked a couple of questions.
Koichi called so I caught the metro to Omote-Sando on the other side of town where the Quantel offices are. He took me out for dinner to a gorgeous restaurant that specialised in chicken. This was the most expensive meal of the holiday at ¥6700 (about £55). Luckily my tastes are quite cheap so I've managed to save loads of money by eating in the noodle bars which are a tenth of the price!
It wasn't my imagination, there are actually more girls than boys in all of the restaurants. Apparently girls (generally) have more money than boys, because they get given money by men for their favours. It is apparently a sliding scale so the more you pay, the more exclusivity you can have with the girl. You can tell from looking at the hang bags, furs and boots.
Koichi had his 20 year service award recently and was given a really nice camera. He said he would move forward his trip to mount Fuji so that he could take me tomorrow but on checking the weather it was going it be rainy and cloudy. I put him out of his misery and said that I wouldn't go. It's 3 hours each way and although I would have liked to see mount Fuji, I couldn't let him do it.
Got the metro back and sat in the hostel chatting to Irish Tom who has been over here for 14 months! He solved the mystery of why is takes 5 people to dig a hole in the street.
Photos on my FaceBook page.
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