Thursday, September 9, 2010

J-Life: Risto, Mari, ja Niko in Tokyo. Chapter One: Concrete and Sun

Background Facts:
Mari started her new job as Director of UN Information Bureau in mid-July while Niko was in Vermont summer camp and while i worked at UVM.


We all flew into Tokyo at the end of August just in time to experience Tokyo's unprecedented, record-shattering heat wave (joy!). For the first two weeks, until yesterday's typhoon rains, the temperatures have hovered around 36C for high (nearly 100F) and lows in upper 20s C (mid to upper 80s) and always with incredible humidity that reminds me of Costa Rican rain forest. I think that Tokyo's latitude parallels Rome and not the equator, but you could have fooled me.
If this is global warming, then we all need to relocate to Newfoundland or Greenland. Maybe Nunavit and its eskimos need an MR center or a telerad outsource service.


When we came to Tokyo, we had to stay at a hotel in Shibuya, close to Mari's office as she needed to work. The first pictures are from the hotel room on the 21st floor with a great panorama of Tokyo. It is Manhattan on steroids. So much larger than NYC. There are several clustered downtowns with high rises, and the geographic area is much greater, and it is estimated that nearly one-third of the nation lives in Tokyo and the adjacent cities. As far as the eye can see, it is concrete and asphalt.

this is the view to the left, above.

this is the view center, dead on.

this is to the right. you can make out Tokyo Tower and the Mori buildings in Roppongi. 

All this asphalt and concrete radiate that heat, and walking outside is stepping into a sauna. Running in this heat is a challenge, more details to come. For another perspective, here is Niko plastered against the 21st story window like a bug.yes, he is mr. shibuya.

these first few days in the hotel are tough.  jetlag and that 13 hr time differnece from vermont do not help.

luckily, there is caffeinated help.  now, there is a huge sticker shock here. that little 8oz package of lavazza at home that goes for less than 7.50 is at least 12 dollars here with the exchange rate. the starbucks ("staba") are ubiquitous here, but the iced cafe americano largest size here is like the smallest size back home and about 5 dollars, so what is a caffeine addict to do? you go to these convenience stores like Family Mart, 7 Eleven (more upscale here) or Lawson's and you find an entire shelf of starbucks and theier competitors in cans and cups for a fraction of their going street value like less than 200 yen or 2 and a half bucks. Paydirt!

so many choices, so little time.

OK. stay tuned for chapter two:  Noise and Shopping.  These are one in the same here.


  1. Endless concrete... my own personal version of hell I think. Trees are starting to change color in VT...

  2. Dear, what a delightful blog, I'm so grateful, as I've been SO curious about how you're all liking it... so glad you blogged so fascinatingly :)- will definitedly share it with the boys.

    Still I have so many questions... how is Mari liking her job, what about your work (is this a sabbatical) and is Niko liking school? Is Mari's dad with you?
    Anyway, warmest regards from delightfully cooling DC post wierdly lovely Prague... Love, J