Day 3 and it feels like we have been here a month. The pace is crazy. You feel obligated to do something every second because you are here. The problem is, and I think some of the players are running into this too, is you have very little time if you are on the team or tied to it. There are no off days here. The team works out on the days they do not play games. The guests of the team have gone on fabulous all-day tours but the rest of us have to make due with the few hours we have around games.
Today I didn't even have the full few hours. I wasn't lucky enough to be chosen as the pool reporter for the trip to Zama Army Base on the Blackhawk helicopters so I decided I better go check out the signing at the MLB Cafe that Michael Saunders and Munenori Kawasaki were going to appear at. The signing was in Ebisu. I had no idea what or where Ebisu was but I decided that I had seen enough around our hotel and that I would go in the team van to Ebisu but stick around and return on my own. Good call as you will see below. We start at the beginning.
On my morning walk for coffee I saw these recycling bins. Tokyo is spotless. As litter-free as Singapore. It looks like they recycle too. We have these bins and at the coffee store they have separate bins for food waste, cups, and lids.
Fans trying to get a glimpse at Kawasaki and Saunders as they enter the MLB Cafe.
Saunders doing an interview in his dressing room at the cafe. Marketing genius Kevin Martinez checking his email in the foreground.
The crowd at the cafe. Impressive set-up with wrap-around video which showed an MLB piece on a tour of Safeco Field, an interview with Dave Niehaus and vintage Mariners commercials.
Signing. Saunders greeted the crowd in Japanese and Kawasaki spoke mainly English. Not a lot of it but a great and confident effort that everyone loved.
Kawasaki and a young fan wearing an Ichiro jersey. That's okay. He's a fan too. I suspect we will soon see a bunch of Kawasaki jerseys in the stands however.
Well look who showed up. Fake Ichiro!
Saunders insisted that they take a picture with Fake Ichiro. Love the expression on Kawasaki's face! Fake Ichiro stayed and took pictures with real fans and was interviewed for local TV.
MLB Cafe in Ebisu. Kind of has a Fenway feel to it. And is across the street from ...
The Sapparo headquarters! They do tours but no time today.
So with the event finished I stuck to my plan not to return to the hotel but explore where I was at instead. I got some recommendations from Ichiro Insider Brad Lefton and luckily ran into Michi, a reporter who covers the Mariners for a Japanese paper and insisted on helping me get on the right foot for my adventure. This is a long elevated moving sidewalk that goes from just outside the cafe to the Metro station.
Flowers in every window of the skyway.
Strong candidate for sign of the day. Looks like a nice mall, right? Nope, it is in the Metro station.
Harajuku to the left ...
And Harajuku to the right. Harajuku is a district that is for teens. Most of the kids we saw there today were most likely cutting class, I was told. On the weekends it is the gathering place for kids to buy and show off the latest fashions. The kids were the inspiration for Gwen Stefani's fashion line, Harajuku Lovers. The shops are ridiculously cheap but fashion forward. There is even a dollar store there.
Takeshita Street is the main street of Harajuku. Clothes shops, socks shops and crepe stands make up most of the street.
Little guy playing video game outside one of the shops.
The popular fashion now is lacy skirts and baby doll blouses. A year ago it was goth.
Behind Harajuku is an area that is known ironically enough as "Behind Harajuku." This area is also fashionable but caters to a somewhat older crowd.
I'm really not sure what was going on here.
Baby clothes? No, look again. Dog clothes. All dog clothes.
Sign of the day. Pretty sure that is not what they intended.
A few blocks up from Harajuku is the Champs Elysees of Tokyo otherwise known as Omontesando. This young man did a very good job holding the door.
The produce is not real. The blouse is.
In this shop you can get four tiny truffles for $17.
Indoor mall in Omotesando, designed by a very famous Japanese architect. I do not remember his name. The steps are made to replicate the slope of the street outside.
I was not supposed to take that last picture.
This is crazy. This line ...
Goes around this corner ...
For this. Eggs and pancakes.
Last photo. This was too cute. This little gal was set up just outside one of the hotel restaurants having a tea party with her Hello Kitty tea set.