Trip Start Apr 29, 2008
32Trip End Oct 11, 2008
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Where I stayed
Hotel Villa Fontaine Roppongi Annex
Anyway, I had a nice few days in Tokyo although it was very humid and quite hot. My first day after initially getting lost (I have no sense of direction and the subways make it worse) was spent in Tokyo Tower. It's a great view from the top and not terribly expensive to go up. I was rather touched when a grandmother came over to me and asked if she could take a photo of her grandson and me together. I think I might have been the only Westerner there that day - seemed to tower over everyone as well as being the only white skinned person.
I had to laugh when I bought a t-shirt for a friend in the shop at the top of the tower for 3000 JPY only to go down to the 2nd floor to find a huge range of souvenir shops with t-shirts of equal quality (and in some cases nicer) for only 1000 JPY!
Tokyo tower was also my first experience of ordering my lunch via a vending machine. It was always going to be a bit of a surprise as I can't read a word of Japanese and the people I asked couldn't speak English! So I just pushed the button, paid my money, got my change and picked up my vender number. It turned out to be just fine.
The next day I went on a tour - up another tower (World trade center), on a river cruise, through some market area, a shrine and then on to the imperial palace. Unfortunately, we weren't allowed inside the palace grounds (it's only open to the public twice a year). I was a bit footsore after having walked to the bus depot and then walking around some more so I took a taxi back to the hotel. The subway system is incredibly huge and complex and although I could easily have gone on the train to get to different places, I decided not to especially when I heard about the professional pushers that employed to get people onto the trains!
Monday saw me lining up with 20 or so others waiting for the consulate to open to apply for my visa. After about an hour, I was on my way again, hopeful that the visa would be granted. I wondered through a park, was swooped by crows (they are just as intimidating as magpies) and then onto Shiba Park. This was a really interesting place. Here there were hundreds of Jizo statues. Jizo protects children who have died before their parents. The statues are often dressed with little caps and bibs and there are also offerings to Jizo next to the statues.
The park also has shrines and statues throughout. One shrine had a Black buddha - seen as very lucky. Shrines are a good business as good luck charms are sold at the front of the shrine. Naturally I had to succumb and came away with my lucky dip turtle charm!
on the Tuesday I went and picked up my visa! I had a really nice few days in Tokyo and would love to go back to see more.