Tokyo is mad and that's good

Despite the blogpost's title I did not spend a lot of time in Tokyo today. Instead my diving instructor took me out to a diving pool way out in the suburbs. Diving is good fun! But maintaining equipment and having a million components to think about is a big hassle. I really can't see myself buying any gear ever, except perhaps a mask. Everything else is mendoukusai. Anyway, pool dives were awesome and I went through a lot of skill tests to prove that I can dive. Having done all those, I'm quite surprised I managed to dive in Thailand without knowing what I know now. Maybe it's better that way.

Since we finished quite early because I was the only student today, my diving instructor let me do some paper tests at the dive shop after we got back. Since I aced those and we still had time, I just did the final exam as well: 48 points out of 50! Woohoo! I am now a cyclist and a diver. Well, after I do the skills in open water tomorrow and Sunday.

As the sun was starting to set I decided to celebrate my victory with a random cycle around Tokyo. That turned out to be an excellent, yet hectic idea. The first impression you'll get is that no matter where you cycle in Tokyo, the city is out to kill you. Taxi drivers cut you off all the time and if you cycle on the sidewalk you'll inevitably run into pedestrians and other cyclists. Well, that also happens if you cycle on the road. There's pedestrians everywhere and oncoming cyclists on the wrong side of the road no matter where you cycle. Lights on the bicycle seems to be entirely optional as well even if you cycle on the road into oncoming traffic. You'd think the sidewalk would be safer but today I saw pedestrians literally being terrorized by a mother + child on a giant bicycle, zigzagging at high speed through groups of pedestrians, somehow not hitting anything.

..which leads to the thought that my first impression was wrong; Tokyo is not dangerous at all because everyone knows what they're doing. Pedestrians have tons of experience avoiding bicycles and vice versa. Taxi drivers know exactly what the safety margin is to pass a bicycle. Once I'd accepted that, I started following some other cyclists and observing their behaviour. The mad cycle mom I mentioned above was one of them, another was a guy on a road bike without lights going really slowly in the middle of a car lane on a busy street while playing with his phone. Yet others I couldn't observe very long because they were coming towards me and passed me on all sides. But nobody ever seems to hit anything, which is kind of amazing.

I sort of aimed for Yoyogi park, and found myself there around twilight, eating a conbini bento on a bench while watching all the wacky people (mostly foreigners) do their silly sports and/or other things. The sky looked extremely threatening at some points but it somehow managed to stay dry. Apparently 50 kilometers north of here had massive thunderstorms. I headed back to my hotel via Harajuku and Shinjuku, pretty much the busiest and craziest roads I know of in Tokyo, and perhaps the whole world. It felt great to cycle there. Cycling in a city gives me a sense of confidence and awareness. I know how each place interconnects, I can see the relationship between things. Situational awareness is awesome.

Izu tomorrow. Diving. More skill practices. Hopefully good weather. We'll see.

Posted in Spirit of Japan 2