i put that building?
--Jan 16, 2005
It can be difficult to find things in Tokyo.
I’m not talking about finding specific items in a store,
but rather finding the store itself. To start with, most buildings
don’t have addresses (this may seem crazy in a city like
Tokyo, but it’s true). Further, many of the streets don’t
have names, and when they do have names, there is rarely a sign.
So when you ask for directions, people can’t even tell you
to go to so-and-so street and turn left (this is, of course, in
addition to the fact that very few people speak English, so the
language barrier is unusually high). Instead, they just kinda’
have to point and guess at the number of blocks. Eventually, you
get to the right vicinity, and then you basically just have to
wander around and/or keep asking people until you find somebody
who is familiar with the area. And to top it all off, we are sometimes
staring directly at the correct location, but not able to read
the sign in front. (Even the Japanese think it’s hard to
find places Tokyo. It’s not uncommon to see a local walking
back and forth, up and down a street a few times trying to find
something. And several times when we asked for directions, people
would run out in to the street pointing to show us the way.) We
began to think… considering the fact that Japan is known
for flooding the world over with tourists wouldn’t they
make their own city more tourist friendly?
view from Tokyo
Metropolitan Government offices building
At first, this all struck us as rather odd,
but now we’ve come to embrace it as not only a part of the
sometimes quirky Japanese culture, but also as a mini-adventure
every time we set out to find something (we’ve learned to
allot 20 to 30 extra minutes for first-time visits). Who knows
– maybe we’ll accidentally discover an excellent place
to eat lunch along the way?