#043: Charging into Tokyo for Cherry BlossomsTak's dispatch released on 11 August 2015

There are cherry blossoms all over Tokyo at the moment. You missed the peak of the season by a couple days, but will still be in time for the massive crowds that drape themselves across the famous viewing sights.

You are sitting comfortably on the plane in Okinawa when you realize you left the battery charger for your camera in the business lounge, just steps from the gate.

“I forgot my battery charger,” you tell the flight attendant. While she blankly smiles at you, you tell her where exactly it is. She hurries off and a sense of relief passes over you.

The plane is still at the gate and minutes later, the flight attendant returns.

“For you,” she states and passes you a hefty Japanese-filled pamphlet from the airline. It doesn’t really look like your battery charger. She flips a bunch of pages back and circles a phone number. “You call this when we get to Tokyo. They help.”

The plane starts rolling backwards.

If there is any place in the world to forget a battery charger for a camera, Tokyo is one of the better places to be heading. However, due to the small size of the airport in Okinawa, the light traffic in the business lounge, the numerous flights between there and Tokyo and the fact that you know exactly where it is, this should be a simple job to retrieve.

You stuff the pamphlet into the seat back pocket.

“I do not know English a lot,” the airline employee at the information counter musters. While you typically never expect English to be spoken in non-English speaking countries, you are slightly surprised being at an international airport information counter. This is one of those places where English might be a nice addition to the skill set.

Between your broken Japanese, her broken English and her colleague who keeps reappearing at random points in time, the problem is conveyed.

She picks up the phone and starts making calls. Since she works for the airline, and the business class lounge is run by the same airline, you figure she is calling the lounge directly. After five calls to what seems to be different people, you no longer imagine that.

She is tapping on her touchscreen monitor. It is an ancient monitor (albeit with touchscreen capabilities) and only seems to register 1 of every 5 touches. The computer system is ancient, it looks like an ancient DOS-based program.

At least thirty minutes have elapsed and she finally calls you back to the desk to explain that they were unable to figure out how to retrieve the charger.

“Can you call the business lounge and have them find it?” you ask. You pull out the map you already have drawn for her. Her eyes light up with the suggestion. She instructs you to sit back down.

“Yes, they found your charger,” she says. “We just need an address to send it to.”

You are hopping around and won’t have a permanent address. She is back to being stumped at how to resolve this.

“Can you just have the business lounge employee give it to a flight attendent on the next departing flight and then I can just come here and pick it up?”

Her eyes light up again. Clearly she and her colleagues would have doomed Apollo 13.

Nakagin Capsule Tower, Tokyo, Japan

The building was constructed in the early 1970’s. It consists of a concrete core whereby capsules, built off site, are connected via four bolts. The capsules can be connected together to build larger apartments or used solo. The idea was that as times changed, you could build a different capsule and swap out your space very easily.

Currently the building is not in the greatest of shape. Heralded as an architectural gem, it has fallen into disrepair as the building has been slated, numerous times, to be torn down and replaced with a high-rise, given its location in downtown Tokyo. As such, some owners are holding onto their capsules while not living in them awaiting a payout. Others are afraid to commit resources to an unknown future.

The man at the desk lifts his eyes up slowly as you enter inside. The building is quite famous and thrill-seekers and tourists are constantly trying to enter.

Inside Nakagin Capsule Tower, Tokyo, Japan

In the stairwell, numerous contraptions can be seen, the creations of the remaining owners who cling to their love. One of these devices appears to be some sort of liquid waste apparatus, perhaps for air conditioning or a drain.

The creativity of the architectural design, and of the capsules themselves are quite inspiring. However, life within the capsules at this point seems to be progressively more difficult, increasingly due its prime real estate.

Imperial Palace Tree in Tokyo Cherry Blossoms in Tokyo - Sakura Black & White Cherry Blossoms in Tokyo Spring Flowers in Tokyo Tokyo Spring Flowers

The air temperature is absolutely perfect for looking at the blooming cherry blossoms and other vegetation in Tokyo. Tomorrow, it is supposed to start raining and the air will become much colder.

You wander to the north and then the west and find yourself on the grounds of the Imperial Palace. The crowds are thick but not overbearing.

The care taken with the cherry trees and other plants is quite evident. You spend the rest of the afternoon wandering the city on foot admiring this handiwork.

Figuring out how to get a heater to turn on when it is all in Japanese (and so old that you don’t know if it even works anyways) can be a trying puzzle. The cold night air, just outside your capsule cube, is slowly equalizing with your interior air.

And a warm shower is not an option. The drain doesn’t work. Maybe you need a contraption too.

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Tak

New York, NY
Internationally-published photographer with a passion for creative food, fine products, unique cultures and underground music. Twitter / Instagram / Email

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