Japan, Gastronomical Tourism, and the Wi-fi Hotspot Bait and Switch

After abandoning China I spent a couple of days in Tokyo.

I had a wonderful experience there, despite the fact that Tokyo was slammed by a typhoon while I was there. Alas, I am not the type of elementary school essayist to churn out a “My vacation to Tokyo” style essay for this blog post. The best I can do is mine the time there for anecdotes worth recounting.

This can be surprisingly hard to do, though it is of no fault of the wonderful city of Tokyo. I am a fairly boring tourist. I mostly just like to walk around and look at things rather aimlessly. Often, I engage in more walking around then otherwise. The rest of my time I enjoy what can be called ‘Gastronomical tourism’, wherein my fat ass crams new and interesting things into my gaping gourd. I spend more time and energy into this task then I am willing to confess to researching just where exactly I will go for my next meal, and develop damn near crippling anxiety about making sure my next meal is the correct one.

I may be the only human to have his Fear of Missing Out triggered by Yelp reviews and not facebook posts.

If ever there was a place that made the quest of perfect meals easy. It’s Tokyo (possibly all of Japan, but I wouldn’t know that for sure). A friend lived there for some time and she told me not to worry, and that I could walk into any old restaurant and let Japanese nationalistic pride in their work take care of the rest. I am pleased to report that this was completely true. I didn’t have a bad meal there, not one.

However this mad quest for great meals did create a problem: a hunt for wi-fi. I wanted to get to a certain place the said same friend recommended to me, but I got a little lost hunting it down. I had the info saved on my phone, but the shitty little Chinese Huawei couldn’t keep programs open for very long1, thus causing me to have to either screenshot maps2 and guess where I was or scour for a wi-fi hotspot.

Which brings me to my one and only grip with the country. It was really hard to find wi-fi out and about in the city. Maybe it was because I was using a shitty Chinese phone, but I found tons of wi-fi and all of it was password locked. And when there were open networks, they didn’t work well, or you had to sign up for something, or some problem or the other.

So I was looking for a restaurant with my phone out desperate to grab some wifi somewhere when I saw what I thought a miracle. I was walking down a road close to Shibuya (a downtown area of Tokyo close to the famous intersection), when my phone lit up with a wi-fi network. Apparently the American embassy known as T.G.I. Friday’s (yea, the shitty chain restaurant) had a wi-fi network literally labeled with the words “for tourist”. I was ecstatic, and found a place to sit down on the street to mooch off of it. But the signal was weak and kept on dropping, so I ultimately got frustrated and decided to go into the T.G.I. Friday’s for two beers before I fucked off to the restaurant.

I went in, sat at the bar, ordered a beer-

-and found no wi-fi!

I asked the waitress and found out that, indeed, they didn’t have wi-fi there.

The fuck. T.G.I. Friday’s pulled a fucking bait and switch!

I drink my beer as irately as a beer could be drunk.

About the worst turn Tokyo pulled on me, despite the typhoon.

____________________________________________________________________________________________

 

1A feature, not a bug! This was programmed into the phone as a battery saving “feature”. I’m not fucking kidding…

2Another brilliant “feature” of the phone was that some apps wouldn’t install. Namely, all map apps that could function offline. I guess China did this to favor their own apps, like Baidu maps which needs access to your purchase history to function. Fuck you.

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