Tokyo as a Dungeon Crawl
I spent most of Tuesday dragging heavy luggage through train station after train station, through the thronging crowds, up and down stairs and through tiled, flourescent-lit underground tunnels, as sweat beaded and rolled down my forehead in the dense, humid air.
Ah yes, I remember this feeling. It's quite familiar. It's the part I usually edit out of my happy nostalgic memories of Japan, but now that I'm doing it again I can remember how much time I spent dragging luggage through train stations all over the country — invariably wondering why I hadn't packed lighter.
Navigating the labyrinthine bowels of the Tokyo subway system (actually, as I discovered, the two separate Tokyo subway systems, the JR and the Metro, which don't accept each other's tickets) is a lot like a giant, endless dungeon crawl. You can go for miles and miles underground, going up and down between multiple sublevels, in and out of ticket gates, as train stations lead unexpectedly into underground pedestrian tunnels, shopping malls, and food courts. One could almost live out one's entire life without ever coming back up to the surface. There were several times when the distance we covered on foot within the station complexes was greater than the distance we covered on the actual train.
Just to make it more like a dungeon crawl, I had a damsel in distress with me, and she couldn't walk too well, so I was carrying all the luggage and doing a lot of "Wait here while I scout ahead and see if we're going the right way", searching for more accessible paths, and backtracking.