Swooping down over Narita Airport, I conjure the Vangelis score from the opening of Blade Runner (1982), daydreaming of my first Suntory on the rocks in a sprawling futuristic enclave. Jet lag and my beyond-haggared physiognomy don't come into it as the adrenaline rush of a new adventure takes over.
I proceed to the city via the Limited Airport Express and then the Asakusa subway line to the homely Anne Hostel in Asakusabashi in Tokyo's Taito ward, also home to the Asakusa neighborhood. Here lies the breathtaking Sensoji Temple, founded in 645, and just adjacent the Asakusa Shrine, atavistic structures I'd only ever seen in films. Nakamise-dori, the street approaching the temple from Thunder Gate, is lined with shops and heaving with tourists, and as trivial as it sounds, I'm as equally shocked by just how very clean my surroundings are. It's a rarity to walk around a neighborhood back home and find not a single item of litter. I'm mightily impressed.
That evening I take in a light meal in the restaurant Tokiwa Shokudobeside, followed by a stroll along the serene Sumida River. I stumble upon a colossal, golden parsnip-shaped object atop a black building. Perplexed, I am only later informed that this is the Asahi Beer Hall, the parsnip in fact a golden flame. Many of Tokyo's residents mockingly refer to it as the 'golden turd'. It's certainly memorable.
Asahi Beer Hall