Saturday, May 31, 2008

how to recap the twelfth day of my trip (tokyo edition)

it's very difficult for an american to comprehend how much of an ordered society japan is. everything has a correct way and reason, and that's it. in an example like the intersection in shibuya, it works wonders.

in other ways, it's completely inexplicable.

three examples of this, as how it affects me:

1. when preparing for our shoot, we wanted an outside exterior or court that screamed "japan!" and japanese athletes. so our japanese client presented us with one basketball court on a nike campus 90 minutes away from tokyo, and one athlete for each day. the basketball court was completely non-descript: white, clean, devoid of any markings. the athletes were tiny and looked more like fancylads than rugged competitors. if these were just one of many options, no problem. but when we asked for more (while being shocked there weren't any), we were responded with, "oh no. it cannot happen. it is impossible." impossible? really? there's a famous soccer pitch on a rooftop with the city's skyline in the background. did you even check that out? no, you did not. it was just a complete crock of shit - but in their ways of order, this is it because this is how we do things and how can you not be happy with it?

2. we shot on the nike campus on saturday, when most doors were locked closed both inside and out. during a break, we wanted to walk into the employee store, but just couldn't find a way except for a back door. we couldn't get anyone's attention until a store employee walked out. so we tried to walk in the door he left out from, but he said, "no! only entry in front. this is impossible!" but there was nothing impossible about it. we were practically in the store. yet he told us it was impossible for us to enter this way. so we begged him to show us the correct way to enter - and he walked us around the entire building to the proper front entrance, which is just like the back entrance. very little difference. weird.

and finally...

3. i'm writing this in the morning after because i packed up for my trip late last night and went to bed so i can sleep in. unfortunately, i got an early wake-up call, finished up packing and checked out - without ever checking the clock, which said 5:30 AM. we all planned to leave at 9:30. oops. four hours to kill, and i'm dead tired. however, i found this out after i checked out in the lobby and realized i was all alone. so i asked the girl at the front desk if i could just relax in my room for a couple of hours. "oh no, this is impossible!" i replied, "i'm not asking to get another day, just a place to sleep for a couple of hours. can't we make believe this didn't happen?" "oh, well...let's undo your checkout then. that way, it will be possible." does anyone else find this ridiculous? why should i have to undo my checkout just to relax in a room that otherwise wouldn't be used? but that's what i did, because that's the only way to do things.

when walking around the city, i've noticed and admired this rigidness to order and came to the conclusion that america could use a healthy dose of it. and i've come to realize that, sometimes, in just the right doses, japan could use a little "jerry springer".

we had dinner and drinks at the top floor of the hotel, which has a windowed 360 view of the city at night. as beautiful as the people are, they don't match up to the colors, lights and architecture of the city. the air is thinner this high up, but that wasn't the reason i wasn't catching my breath.

we're checking out more of the city tomorrow before we take off.

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