Posted by: Megan | June 26, 2007

Tokyo on a budget?

Tokyo Disneyland, Tokyo Tower, Asakusa Shrine, Tokyo Dome City, Sony Building, Ueno Zoo, Rainbow Bridge, The Ginza, Imperial Palace … The cost of a latte in a random café in the heart of Tokyo came close to affording me endless Tokyo sightseeing options for free, kindly offered by Mr Honda (aka: Mr Ogawa).

A visit into Tokyo to extend my work visa was in order to be able to witness the final harvesting of the rice plantations that year! Before any such bureaucracy though – a coffee was necessitous.  Now then, ‘space’ is an issue in Tokyo – a city of over 12 million people that claims about 10% of the overall population of Japan so it was not surprising to have to leaver my arm at such a tight angle to allow for just enough room for me to handle my cup and sip my latte in the café where I sat. Hardly surprising at all really to be brushed up against the soft grey and brown and black cotton blends of Tokyo businessmen’s suits! And so, that is when I found myself squashed amongst enough ‘foreign correspondents’ to hold a press conference! About what exactly, I am not sure but about ‘space’ would have surely been a hot topic for discussion! Seated on the table where I sat were four businessmen representing the Honda Car Company. I was the only blonde headed person in the café. In fact, I was the only other person within the café representing any nation other than Japan! A thus target for their conversation to escape outside the realm of their usual topics and a break from their reading of the Daily Yomiuri! Sadly, my ‘day off’ was steadily evolving into an English Language Lesson complete with the suitable quantity of; laughs, the ‘so so so sos …’, the nodding of the head in agreement, the blank faced expressions, the ‘hi hi his …’ that make up a typical English Language Lesson! During this ad lib session, to which the cultural walls broke down in time, is when Mr Ogawa handed me his business card. Not having a business card on me at the time, I (stupidly) gave him my work phone number (never thinking it would be used). From total strangers to now on second name basis it was ‘hello’ – ‘konnichiwa’.

Back in Kofu where I was living, and a few days on since the Tokyo visit, I received a message on my work desk; ‘Mr Ogawa called, he’ll call back’. By that stage the name had slipped my mind so I asked the office staff member who left the message on my desk; ‘Mr Ogawa? Shirimasen (I don’t know)!’ To which I was answered; ‘Honda Man’. ‘Ah so so so so so ……… wakarimashita (I understand)!’ Yes, Mr Ogawa … he wanted to meet a certain friendly blonde (that would be me) again …

Normally, I would not have made a special effort to take the Shinkansen back into Tokyo just to have seen him however, I had to go back to immigration one more time to finalise the visa. So … I decided to meet him for another coffee at the same place – prepared to teach him a final few English phrases for the road! The only thing I know I ended up learning was that ‘Mr Ogawa’ was a 50 odd year old, divorced, lonely, living alone in Tokyo businessman who would have taken me to any, paid for, countless outings to places like Tokyo Disneyland, Tokyo Tower, Asakusa Shrine, Tokyo Dome City, Sony Building, Ueno Zoo, Rainbow Bridge, The Ginza, Imperial Palace with countless lattes between visits as a means to companionship! As soon as I realised that I was thankful that Japan boasted one of the world’s fastest train systems for I was on an earlier than scheduled departure!

For your chance to visit some of Japan’s sights the more ‘desirable’ way click here:

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