An Afternoon in Roppongi

Last Saturday I’m off to Kamiyacho again to get a new prescription for the pains in my legs. We make it there just before the pharmacy closes (13:00), and then decide to stop at a ramen shop for lunch. The last time we came to the area I had noticed a Kouryu shop, like the one I went to a while back in Nakameguro. Wanting to bring Yuko there for a tast of that great ramen, we go in only to find out that unlike the other branch, we’re not able to customize our bowl. The soup is fine, but nothing special, and doesn’t compare to the Nakame shop. All Kouryu shops are not created equal (the same can be said for any ramen franchise, as the recipes or cooking methods vary).

After lunch, instead of heading back home, we decide to get a bit of exercise and walk across Azabu and Roppongi to get to Roppongi Hills, which I haven’t visited since going to the HAPPINESS exhibit at the MAM. Walking through Azabu, we spot quite a lot of police activity, including foot patrolmen, large transport vehicles, and even an armored car. It doesn’t feel like anything big is happening though. We continue on our way, noticing the huge amount of foreigners in our wake (I’m not used to seeing such a large amount of them, it actually makes me feel a bit uncomfortable). The Azabu area is rather rich, and the first thing you notice are the cars parked around. Take your pick of Mercedes, BMWs, Ferraris, and Lamborghinis. We end up walking in front of the Axis building, which I’d been wanting to visit for ages. I drool at the amazing things on display. Yuko buys this great little paper model that you make and are then able to give movement to the pieces. I’d seen them in quite a few magazines lately, and Yuko thought it would make a great gift for one of her friends. We then cross the street to check out the huge Daichu shop (sells cheap Chinese goods). I think it’s the first time walking through Roppongi during the day, and it definitely has a different feel. Cutting through back streets we stare a while at two dogs having a play fight in front of a terrace, and then I spot Seven, the James Bond theme bar that I posted about the other day. I definitely need to come back some night to have a martini there. I have all the Bond movies on video and DVD, you know.

We finally get to Roppongi Hills, and my legs are killing me (not pain, but extremely tired). I want to relax at a cafe. We first head to the Idee Caffe, but there are only empty seat in the outdoor terrace, and it’s sort of cold out. We end up at Andersen (I know it’s Scandinavian, but is it Swedish?), where I’m blown away by their stupid policy. We want to sit down for a coffee, and maybe enjoy some baked goods, but the baked goods can only be purchased for take-out. If you sit down, it’s only for a coffee and/or their selection of sandwiches (which look good, but I’m not that hungry because of the ramen). Why would a business not want to make money?

Before heading back we spend a lot of time at the Village Vanguard store. There are quite a few of these in Tokyo (I’ve been to the ones in Odaiba and Kichijoji), and they’re so much fun. It’s a pop culture store, and the selection is eclectic as hell. We end up getting some cookies from Okinawa (chinsuko), and Yuko gets some books (including a box set of the LORD OF THE RINGS, which comes in 9 volumes).

To get back to Ikebukuro, we take the subway, changing trains at Kasumigaseki station, location of the deadly sarin gas attack in 1995. The leader of the Aum sect, Asahara Shoukou, had received the death sentence the day before, so it was all over the news all week. As we get on the train of the Marunouchi line, where it had happened, we’re confronted with a homeless person sitting in a section of the train, and the stench is unbearable. Most seats around him are left empty. We decide to change cars, and just before we stand up to leave, we overhear two business men joking that the smell is probably some sort of new sarin. The end of a long day.