Go to San Francisco bookstore. Ambush woman in fiction section; ask for her favorite international destination. Buy ticket to Japan.
Land at Tokyo Narita, jet-lagged and puffy. Call hostel recommended by flight attendant. Wonder how old is too old for bunk beds.
Hostel is near one of Tokyo's most distinctive landmarks, the Asahi Super Dry Hall. Locals' nickname for rooftop sculpture: kin no unchi ("the golden turd").
Accost young mother on street, ask for restaurant recommendation. Woman politely obliges. Baby begins to cry.
Dinner: deep-fried shrimp, first of many.
Watch tuna auction. Confirm impending extinction of one of ocean's top predators.
Breakfast: See deep-fried shrimp, above.
Visit male fishmonger's favorite place in Tokyo: upscale shopping area called Ginza. Wonder whether he's a Prada or Hermès kind of guy.
Dinner at Amor, run by fish-market friend. Menu does not include shrimp.
Engaging in a heartfelt photo session—with young women dressed as cats
Rent collapsible bike. Receive order to find "octopus in a bowl."
Bike to Imperial Palace. Develop deep gratitude for helmet; earn mockery from schoolchildren.
Ask happy retirees for evening activity.
Continue trend of healthy eating with Hawaiian-themed hamburger.
Engage in heartfelt photo sessions with young women dressed as cats.
Receive list of TV host's favorite Tokyo experiences: soba noodles, small bars, public baths, crowded subway trains.
Rakugo! You can't see it, but this man has on tap shoes.
Eat raw squid. Meet charming businessman and wife, who recommend a visit to their neighborhood temple.
Favorite Tokyo pastime: shopping. Visit photo booth arcade!
Ride rush-hour subway. Question TV reporter's judgment.
Breakfast: soba noodles at stand-up counter. Shrimp, in this case, has been replaced by tofu.
Engage in favorite Tokyo pastime: shopping. Visit photo booth arcade; take more incriminating photographs I never expect will be made public.
Discover gathering spot for lithe young Japanese men.
Encounter bizarre fashion trend known as Gothic Lolita. Or, in the case of these two, just Lolita.
Attend goma ceremony at sushi patron's temple. Debate whether indoor fires at wood-framed historical sites are really a good idea.
Visit tiny bar in Shinjuku area called GoldenGai. Make new friends; enjoy $20 bottle of beer.
Celebrate last night in Tokyo with a visit to the "doctor fish."
No guidebook. No itinerary. No map. The story behind Catherine Price's unplanned Tokyo adventure