It was pretty cool; I actually enjoyed it more than I expected -- I liked it a whole bunch, despite almost a complete lack of English signage. I especially liked all the little models and the observation, er, deck on the top floor. Also ended up being the copilot on this plane simulator ride sorta thing -- traded tickets with this guy who wanted to sit next to his young son in "coach." It was pretty cool, actually, since as copilot, I didn't really have to do much (I just handled the flaps and the landing gear, the pilot actually "flew" the plane), so didn't have to worry about understanding the guide's instructions (who apparently had pretty good English, actually, at least referring to aircraft controls), but still got to sit up front. Whee. :)
Got myself a phone in Akihabara. Ended up paying a bit more than I expected, but I won't have to get a new one in August (which would have been even more expensive), and I'll have the same number, etc. Actually, if I end up back in Japan soon enough next year, theoretically I could keep the phone then, too, depending on when I come back, since it doesn't expire for a year (and there's another 90 day grace period before they shut off the number).
Apparently the terms for this is weird -- they couldn't "sell" me the phone because I was a foreigner (apparently they've had spam problems with the pre-paid phones -- not sure, exactly, why this would matter, since web and email is disabled on this phone -- that's less important to me since I have the laptop here anyway), but they were perfectly okay with my Japanese friend signing the registration and me paying for everything and walking out with it. Of course, without my Japanese friend, I wouldn't really have been able to figure out the terms anyway, or the activation, since it was completely oriented towards domestic customers (the phone does support English menus, but getting them turned out to be really complicated and took fifteen minutes of us poring through the manuals).
So yeah, saw Akihabara. Although to see it in all its (otaku) glory, apparently you need to visit it on Sunday. On a weekday, it's just a shiny busy place, not that much different than other shiny busy places around Japan, I'm guessing. Of course, even its mundanity (so to speak) is moderately cool, since this is one of those places I've heard about for a long time. As Seen On TVtm, you know. :)
The Toyoko Inn here is more modest than than the Holiday Inn was at the aiport (Japanese-scaled, you might say), but it's much nicer, I think. More modern, sleek, efficient. It suits me better.
Still boggling over the oddness of a lot of things here. Like the climate control being via remote -- took me a bit to figure out what to point the darned thing at (I figured it out eventually -- seems a lot more obvious after I did). Never bothered to figure out what all the (kanji) buttons do, it seems to be working fine nonetheless. All the toilets I've seen so far are universally... Different. Hi-tech, yet somehow cheap. The pillows are all weird. The ubiquitous Teachings of Buddha. A million little things.
Still jet lagged. Slowly adjusting. My insides haven't been the most stable, but also not a big deal, really. Probably part food (airline food, feh), but mostly it's the tired. Haven't eaten that much, a little bit because of that, but mostly because I never have much appetite when I'm tired. The tired hasn't helped my Japanese, which has seemed kind of hopeless, but I'm sure it'll get better.
The Starbucks here are astoundingly similar to the U.S. Almost the only thing different is the extra "short" size, the lack of T-Mobile hotspots, and the extra Japanese on the menus.
So, tomorrow -- Asakusa and then off to Yokohama.
[see photos on flickr]