I went away for a bit. This time it was to Tokyo for a week and a half, exploring the city with that one robot guy and crossing the place off my list of "cities to visit before they fall down."
The place was like a big New York City, especially if Times Square sucked down a Red Bull or two and then ran around whizzing neon all over itself. I loved the hell out of it like the city kitty I am. It went on and on, as far as you could see from the tallest point and then further, all night and straight through into the day again (except for when the subway closed at inopportune times). Everything felt stacked, small, and streamlined.
It was a grayscale city. Sky patched with clouds, concrete, everyone on the street in shades of black and gray and navy. I've never felt like I stood out so much for wearing just a tan jacket. And it only served to burst your eyeballs even worse when you hit a riot patch of color like Kanda Myojin or madcap electric district Akihabara.
To get around the place, the only language you really need to know is the language of cities. Follow a subway map, walk very fast, don't get in people's way, step to the side on the escalators and sidewalks. That said, it's incredibly helpful and courteous to take in some of the local lingo before heading over there, especially if you're like me and you feel compelled to constantly mutter the incantation "Pleasethankyousosorryexcuseme" like some kind of protective charm.
We spent the entire week and a half in the city itself, and we still didn't get to see everything we'd planned. The place is dense and rich and full of bizarre extremes, like some kind of above-the-water urban coral reef where you can lose yourself for ages.