High in Tokyo

Day 22 – Friday, 19 April 2024

Much of the day taken up with a visit to the Tokyo Skytree, the capital’s tallest building and highest vantage point for views over the city. The true size of Tokyo is grasped and many photos taken. Much fun is had over the saturation advertising of the resident girl band, We R, apparently consisting of about forty performers, all as identical as anime characters without even the usual distinguishing feature of anime girls, namely differently coloured hair. Raf and I crack many jokes about the machine that extrudes identical signer/dancers on demand. I start making fandom jokes about my internet mediated, meaningful personal relationship with number 26, whoever that might be. Raf flips open Wikipedia to tell me that number 26 is the only member still in her minority, which makes me a creepy old man. Fair enough, but I instantly switch my allegiance to number 27, just to be on the safe side.

The most fun of the visit, though, is not had up the tower but shopping in the mall that forms the bottom few layers of the complex. I find a new cardigan and casual suit, Anna a few items of her own, and we both get some socks – Mt Fuji embroidery for me, ninja motifs for her. I buy Raf a shirt that, I think, suits him very well – a hint of geek chic, computer but cool, needing only a pair of Converse high tops to complete the look. In a break from tradition, Raf allows as how he might actually wear the shirt. The shoes will wait for another day.

Seb, of course, spends his time in the Pokémon Centre.

All of that takes most of the day and, for once, the only one with plans for the evening is Raf. He has followed up on the ideas hatched yesterday and reached out to the computer science club of, not Keio, but Tokyo University. He has, in fact, joined the association, and their regular meet up is that evening. So, with a minor gulp, we watch our older child make his first unaccompanied trip out into the greatest city in the world. Of course, it’s also one of the safest and one that several million teenagers navigate on a daily basis. Ah, says the other voice, but they speak the language and know how to contact the police. Shut up, says the first voice, and turn on the telly.

Which I do, and watch baseball, for only the second time in my life, and as an entertainment it makes no more sense than my first glimpse of a World Series game, years ago. Tonight, it’s the Orix Buffaloes, based (at least half the time) in Osaka against the Softbank Hawks of Fukuoka. On the solid basis that I have been to Osaka (for about 30 hours) and never set foot on Kyūshū, I declare myself a rabid Buffaloes fan. The game is evenly poised for as long as I can stay focussed. My mind wandering, I switch channels for a short time, switch back to find that Fukuoka have scored about four in one innings, effectively putting the game beyond reach. I stick it out to the end, willing my beloved Buffaloes to a famous comeback win. It doesn’t happen. In the end, I remember that for even more important reasons, I am, in fact, a fan of the Hiroshima Carp. Those reasons are (a) a cute character in a television show I watched once was a fan, and at times would chant “Carp! Carp! Carp!” in a demonstration of her support, which is absolutely proper behaviour for a grown up, especially a clinical psychologist; and (b) they’re called the Carp. As a noun, it’s an unlovely fish and as a verb it’s my favourite way to spend an afternoon with my clothes on. Fuck the Buffaloes. I look up how the Carp went in their last game, decide that I am a walking death curse for all baseball teams, and go to bed. Raf comes home safely.


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