Mmmm, Octopus

It’s easy to find a train station. You just follow the tracks. So I did. And they led me through the most amazing scenes in less than a mile.

Nestled under Ginza’s tracks are rows and rows of quaint little shops and rather crusty restaurants. Each seemed to have a specialty — and a smell to match. One was flowers, for example. And one was octopus. So imagine the conversation in some Tokyo bank around 11:30: “I know a good octopus bar nearby. Mmmm, octopus. The one near that stinky flower shop? Let’s go!”

There was a common theme among the odors. A combination of teriyaki, cigarettes and sewer gas permeated the air until I reached the ultramodern International Forum. To compare this with the smell of Paris, just swap dog poop for the teriyaki.

Here, across from a line of retro food trucks, I naturally gravitated to a place called Shake Shack. I ordered a burger with a craft ale and sat outside to people watch. Then to my amazement, the manager came out to offer me a blanket. It didn’t feel that chilly to me but I was just amazed at the customer service.

When I left, I got a hundred yards away before I realized I’d left my backpack in the opposite seat. After all, Olivia wasn’t there to literally watch my back. So I ran back in a panic and was relieved to find it still there. The woman at the next table smiled and shrugged as if to say, “You thought someone would steal your backpack? Here? In Japan? That would be unthinkable, yes?”

On the way back I saw what Japanese businessmen do on their lunch breaks. Stand around tapping their phones. Probably shopping for black suits.

Off to Shinjuku next. After another mineral bath and a nap, of course.

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