My belief in UFOs and life beyond our planet is rooted in experience. I know these things exist because I have been profoundly affected by them. But I also know that my experiences are so incredible that no one could accept them unless they had lived through similar revelations of their own.
Nowhere on earth has a more prolific variety of styles. Modernist skyscrapers scooped out of black marble nestle with medieval castles, gaudy Las Vegas mega-hotels and soaring rocket-shaped spires.
As our plane circled the city we looked down on every shape, form, colour and design of building, an unbelievable contest of creativity and vision. One common theme is luxury: steel and marble are embedded in polished granite on every street, and at night beneath a billion neon strips the city possesses a psychedelic sheen.
Every time I return to Tokyo I am amazed by the tiny shrines, built from paper and red wood, which proliferate between the towers. Instead of being dedicated to saints, they are sacred to ideals, such as happy marriages or healthy families. One opposite our hotel was dedicated to good fortune in business, and I made a point of paying a visit to bow to the gods and bang a drum vigorously — after I had removed my shoes, of course.
I’d hate to mess up a deal just because I forgot to leave my trainers outside a shrine.
The biggest of Tokyo’s buildings are built on spring-loaded foundations, and between the building blocks are layers of rubber instead of mortar. Japan straddles one of the world’s most active faultlines, and earthquakes are frequent. As in Los Angeles, this is a city which is permanently waiting for ‘the Big One’.
Japanese ingenuity means they are well prepared for catastrophe. It’s not unusual to round a corner and see a street full of ‘casualties’, many of them schoolchildren, waiting calmly for their ‘injuries’ to be bandaged — it’s just a drill, but this patient preparation could save thousands of lives if a real quake devastated the capital.
When we lived at the foot of Mt Fuji in the early Eighties, we grew used to the small tremors which shook the ground. But it wasn’t in Japan that I experienced my only major quake, nor in California: during a motivational lecture at the Hilton in Cyprus about ten years ago, I urged the audience to focus all their energies… and the chandeliers began to shake.
“Don’t blame me, I’m not doing that,” I called out, and a moment later cracks began to appear in the plaster. We swiftly evacuated the place — if the roof had fallen in, it would have done more than bend the spoons.
What I love best about Tokyo is the way it buzzes with ideas. In Western cities, for example, you can get your shoes shined… but in Japan you can have your spectacles polished by weird little machines full of water that bubbles with sonic vibrations. Pop your glasses in the slot, and they emerge without a smear.
It’s only a matter of time before someone develops a similar concept to replace showers — why stand and scrub yourself under jets of water if you could simply step into a tank and be blasted clean by soundwaves?
My favourite store here is called Tokyo Hands. It’s got everything you’ll never need: eight storeys of gadgets. I came away with a brush that cleans the gaps between my teeth, where only floss could reach before; a widget that will pop the top off any jar; and a lever that can jack up the heaviest wardrobe. The lever comes with a set of castors, to slide under the furniture while it’s off the ground — lift and whizz.
Never again will I struggle with a two-ton filing cabinet, a slippery pickle jar or a stubborn scrap of broccoli.
The weirdness of the city even tempts me into shops that have nothing to offer me. Though I’m no golfer, I was fascinated by a virtual golf course. All eighteen greens were pictures on a screen, and even the golf balls were imaginary, but the computer that analysed each golfer’s swing delivered a forensic breakdown of every stroke.
Players could watch their drives and putts played back from dozens of angles, with instant feedback on their errors and detailed advice on how to eradicate problems. I predict the next Tiger Woods will be trained by a Japanese robot.
And I was drawn in disbelief into a fish restaurant where diners catch their own meals. The tables are laid out on a boat in the middle of a lake inside the Washington Hotel: customers cross a bridge and collect a rod and bait. Then they cast for their supper.
Sushi, or raw fish, is a delicacy in Japan, but I noticed that steamed and grilled fish was also popular. Most meals were caught easily enough — I saw that no one ever threw a catch back, and discovered it was obligatory to dine on whatever took your bait… it was a kind of lucky dip, though not at all lucky for the fish.
Even if I wasn’t vegetarian, I don’t think I could bear to make a game of catching and killing my own supper. But I had to admire the ingenuity of the place, and I wasn’t surprised to be told that the architect of the Washington Hotel was guided by visions seen in a psychic trance.
This has inspired my new ambition — to design a Tokyo building. It will harness the earth tremors and channel them into energy that cleans your teeth, tones your muscles and serves up a fresh green salad. I shall call it Good Vibrations.
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"There is no spoon!"
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