Decided to do some kid-friendly things for Day 4. Headed to the Miraikan. It’s inspiring. I got a feeling that I don’t get in Vancouver. I still have the rose coloured glasses on, so some might be attributed to that. But, a main theme of the museum is about how we can get the planet to sustain 10 billion people. What challenges must we overcome? It had a very global view of what we must do together to make it possible.
And, it hit home with me on how people in Tokyo are so respectful of each other. For instance, hardly anyone here locks their bikes! There’s dozens of bikes piled around all over the place. Most are not locked. And, the ones that are, they’re just free-locked with really skimpy cable locks. This isn’t a small town. It’s the most populous city in the entire world. Nobody steals. You can walk around without any fear of pickpockets. People here don’t even litter. It’s so clean, and there’s no garbage cans anywhere. Like everyone else, we have to carry a plastic bag around with us to bring back to the hotel in case we need to throw out dirty kleenex. People don’t even walk around when they eat or smoke. They stand beside the food stall and eat. And, huddle around communal vacuum ashtrays when they smoke. There’s no talking on cellphones on the trains. And, we’ve seen the little kids heading home on the trains all by themselves.
There was a short documentary last year about how kids in Japan go to school by themselves. Part of it is that the kids are raised to be more independent than Western kids. But, the larger part of it is that the community will look out for the kids as they go. It’s the whole village raising the child thing. It says a lot about what kind of society this is.
38 million people living together in such tight quarters can probably only function with a society that is this orderly. Without such a high level of community respect and politeness, I can imagine things could go to shit pretty quickly.
Anyway, deep thoughts for another time. Something I’d like to understand more later. Back to us.
On the way to the museum, we came across the Toyota Megaweb. It’s a giant Toyota presentation centre/theme park type of thing. The kids took driving lessons and got to drive around in hybrid cars.
The museum had some Segway-like moving chairs. Kali and I did a ride. Kyle, sadly, was too young. Instead, he and Elaine went to go see Asimo, the android.
The Toyota Megaweb was cool for everyone. The kids went through driver training and had to pass a test before being given their driver’s licenses. Both Kali and Kyle were a bit nervous about the whole thing but they were fine. After getting their licenses, they were allowed to go on a little track complete with traffic lights and other vehicles. The centre also has a program where kids could learn about hybrid cars but it was only available in Japanese.
Over in the Toyota History Garage there was a station where kids could learn go-karting and go out for a ride, but sadly that was also only available in Japanese.
The Miraikan is just a walk away from the Toyota MegaWeb. As I said earlier, it’s inspirational. However, it’s not super exciting. Kyle really liked Asimo, but I don’t think either of the kids really got the whole picture of the global world concept. If they grew up in Japan, my guess is that it’d be more relatable to how they were brought up. Guess the parents need to step in here :).
Although going to Mariken was for the kids it ended up being much more relatable for Kirk and myself. The kids in Japan are much more in tune with the world and how humans have a responsibility for its future. This is apparent in a lot of the anime we have seen where a lot of the underlying stories have to do with the environment, consumerism, etc.
Kyle loved seeing Asimo! Seeing the android walk, jump and kick a ball was cool, but even cooler was seeing him sing and sign a song - as Kyle just learned to sign Frosty the Snowman at school.
There were other interesting displays which covered the past, present and current conditions on Earth. Subjects included weather, fish, electricity, natural resources, etc.
After the Miraikan, we walked over to a mall where there’s a life-sized Gundam. The kids said that if the Gundam was life-sized it must be a mini one, because Gundams are supposed to be bigger than the buildings. Either way the adults were impressed.
On to Ginza and the NikeLab Dover Market shop. Bought a coat.
I didn’t realize there were two NikeLab stores in Tokyo, and I intended to go to the other one, which just opened up two weeks ago. So, we hopped on the subway. And, we got the full Tokyo rush hour experience.
Up to this day, the trains we rode were as busy as Vancouver. Sometimes have seats available. Sometimes equally busy as a B-Line or the Skytrain during the fireworks. But, today was an experience. It literally felt like a mosh pit. Doors open, and people SHOVE themselves in. Think of a complete packed B-Line with people jammed up past the red line. Then imagine 20 more people just SHOVE their way in. Kali got swept away about two metres away from us. I had my hands in front, holding my backpack. They got pressed up against some woman’s butt. But, I couldn't even move my arms. It was insane. You can move your head only. And, everyone just acted calm and normal. If you have claustrophobia, you would never survive.
Made it to the new NikeLab store. Bought some pants.
Had dinner at a tiny underground ramen shop operated by one guy who didn’t speak any English. The ordering vending machine didn’t have an English option either, so what Elaine thought was a rice bowl ended up being some sort of noodle bowl - still good. We were his only customers.