In the early hours of this fine morning, I find myself unable to stay asleep. Something about wooden bunks and deceptively loud neighbors has a way of disrupting a peaceful night's sleep.
Despite the abrupt wake-up call, I took advantage of the pre-rooster dusk and did some long-overdue chores. The smells of the delicious street markets didn't rub off onto my clothes.
Before I can wash away the smells of piss alley from my garments, my lack of coins quickly snaps back into consciousness.
Fortunately, the nearby convenience store is 24/7 and has an international ATM.
The spry morning routine proceeds with the essential wrapped sandwich from the store, along with some fresh (and crisp) yen for my disposal.
I'm glad I chose to wear moisture-wicking apparel, as the water-starved routine of these laundry machines can't handle any sizable load.
I don't know why, but perhaps some of the most mundane tasks in life often give us the biggest headaches. These morning errands may be a clear sign of such frustration.
As for the actual plan today, I'm going over to the Shibuya ward and spending the day on that side of the city.
The ward is famous for its interwoven, chaotic street crossing, the flamboyant and colorful neighborhood of Harajuku, and one of the biggest parks in Yoyogi Park.
I booked a bed there that is future proof.
It's a hostel that has movable beds (yup, you read that right), blinds that can double as projector screens, and a futuristic lounge, full of neon-clad aesthetics.
Let's just say that this place is going to be a far cry from the Ryokan's I stayed in up north.
I tether my fresh belongings onto the DZed and veer over to Shibuya. The route today should take 20 minutes, assuming the traffic is better today.
I timed the drive perfectly, as I wheel towards the most chaotic intersection that I've ever seen.
With the flip of a sign, a flurry of flesh scurries about this oversized crosswalk. Hundreds of people pace their way through the infamous intersection.
People from all walks of life, crossing each other during their morning commute.
The movement reminds me of a flash mob, as the dense number of people in that area move in a seemingly choreographed manner.
There are so many analogies that I can draw from this sight. It's truly a marvel to see so many people, in such a confined space, interact with one another but not communicating.
We have this unspoken social contract, as humans. Despite our differences culturally, professionally, or socially, we seem to find a common accord in public mannerisms and composure.
I've never seen such a display of activity, blended with polite gestures.
With the big sight already crossed off the list, I found my hostel for the night and put my things away. Like the place in Akihabara, I cannot check-in until later this afternoon.
That's fine, as I planned on spending the next few hours grazing away in Yoyogi Park.
The popular landmark is only a few stops away via the Yamanote rail line, so the DZed gets a break from the action.
Before I know it, I'm deep in a well-manicured wilderness, tucked into the metropolis. Yoyogi Park is one of the most popular parks in the country, and for good reason.
This place has changed hands several times, leading to an incredible history of the park.
It was originally used as a place to hold parades, mainly for the country to celebrate any victories in battle.
As the decades wore on (and Japan lost WW2), the land succumbed to the US Military, who then used it as an area to build living quarters for their soldiers.
If that wasn't odd enough, the park was then renovated by the country to be the Olympic village for the 1964 games.
Needless to say, this soil has been through an incredible amount of emotion and change. In a lot of ways, Yoyogi park is somewhat of an equivalent to Central Park in NYC.
The vast, sprawling acres of land here paint an inner realm of serenity.
If you didn't know any better, you'd think that this park is in a bubble, sealing itself off from the chaos and commotion of the city.
The calm array of trees and ponds just breathes an err of calm into the atmosphere.
It's easy to see why this is such a popular park, as the sheer space allows visitors to take in about any outdoor activity they desire.
Everything from skateboarders to hoards of dancing elderly folks, dabbed up in rockabilly garb, can be found within the confines of this preserved piece of land.
I made the most of the library level of volume in the park and began to reflect. You may not know this about me, Setsuko, but I am a fan of incorporating Yoga into my daily routine.
One particular pose that I gravitate to is called "legs up the walk". As the name implies, I lie down and put my legs up against a sturdy object, and just rest.
I do this pose often, mainly to warm up for the day and to let my thoughts run free.
My initial thought during this pose was where I'll be next week. Of course, that's prevalent on my mind because next week is Golden Week here in Japan.
It's the most celebrated week in the country, with four national holidays tucked into the span of seven days.
Everything from festivals to ceremonies of the nth degree are held, meaning that this city is about to get more alive (if that's even possible).
I wonder, do you plan on me being here for those activities next week? If so, should I save some of the shrine visits for then?
I don't want to peak into the next envelope before I'm supposed to but, I'm a proactive (and anxious) guy.
The hours seemingly pass by and my body has had a chance to leave an imprint in park soil. Not to mention, my legs feel as limber as they're ever going to be.
Ok, I didn't stretch that whole time. I just wanted to shut my mind off and think intuitively for a while.
With next week being a festive one, I decided to hold off on seeing the neighboring Meiji Jingu Shrine and head over to Harajuku, which is also within walking distance.
As much as Shinjuku was vibrant and vivacious, Harajuku is equally as loud in their presentation.
This place is infamous for its wacky apparel shops, flamboyant fashion, and colorful array of personalities.
However you feel about the appearance of this place, there's no denying that this place is truly one of a kind.
Walking through the sardine-packed streets here is like a microcosm for what this city represents to some.
The crammed daily life of this urban complex is the absolute antithesis of where I was minutes ago.
Even the ice cream and crepe shops here have a rainbow of activity in their variety, allowing customers to paint their imagination onto their overpriced cones.
Call me a sucker for creative marketing, but I couldn't help myself with one of those cones. The shades of pink, purple and blue were too much to resist.
The flavor was what you'd expect, but I see the cone as the cost of admission for a unique experience, more so than a reward for my tastebuds.
I continue to spend the rest of the day, wandering between the busy streets of Harajuku, with small breaks at the outskirts of Yoyogi Park.
This one store had weird pairs of sunglasses that initially looked terrible, but kind of grew on me.
I suppose if I'm going to be in such a weird place, I might as well lean into the eccentricities of my surroundings.
My day comes to a close in the comfort of my reclinable bed. The hostel provides each visitor with a device that controls the functions of the bed, doubling as a virtual key card.
This place is a beehive for traveler activity, as I seemed to make instant friends with a handful of them.
I can go on and on about the fellow visitors I met here at the hostel (and the many drinks we had upon my return) but I'll save that for another day.
Tomorrow, I'm off to the Taito ward to see multiple things, but the best part of the day will come towards the end.
I booked a cross-city go-kart tour in the evening, which should rival any of the night rides that I've done, up to this point.
I can't wait to get my hands behind the wheel of these little machines and re-imagine myself as a video game character, cruising the streets of this city in a go-kart.
Thanks again and I'll see you soon!