Tokyo: The city all other cities aspire to be
Aug 09, 2010
Feb 01, 2012
Good morning you lovely people!We are slowly catching up with this blog lark. Slow is not a word you would associate the bullet train that we got to Tokyo though from Hiroshima. I think the speed was at least 350km an hour. Just like Virgin trains! Also like trains back in England, were the people serving us food. Ha ha, I wish. They were super polite. Every time that they entered our carriage with the food cart, they would bow and slowly walk down and then bow at the other end! Even the conductor did it! They came in loads of times and without fail they always bowed. Amazing.
We were so excited to be going to Tokyo. We wanted to experience everything the city had to offer. We got into Tokyo station at about 17:00 on a Saturday afternoon. Tokyo station has to be one of the biggest in the world so it took us a while to find the lockers to store our bags. We eventually found a whole floor dedicated to bag storage. The reason why we were leaving our bags in the station? Well Karen & I decided that it would be a good idea to turn up in one of the worlds biggest cities and not book accommodation for our 1st night. As they say in Blackadder though, we had a cunning plan! We headed to an area called Rappongi which is a relatively new area that has loads of bars and restaurants. The Japanese are the most stylish dressed people we have ever seen. Each person has their own individual style. As Karen & I did in our backpacker gear! The area was packed to the rafters and it was only 20:00. We went to a great Ramen place to eat. We love the food in Japan! After dinner we went to this bar called Superdeluxe. As we were walking in there were signs on the door saying "Wedding Party". As this place is famous for it's themes we did not take any notice. We went in, ordered a beer and watched the tail end of a great band that was on the stage. It turned out that we had actually crashed a real wedding and that the band were quite famous in Japan! ha ha. So typical of us two. After the wedding we set in motion our cunning plan and hunted for our accommodation for the night. Our choice? A Cyber Manga Cafe! They are these amazing cafes that are huge, full of Manga books and offer a place to crash for people who have missed the last train home. You get a booth with high-speed internet, playstation, and a big tv. The seating is soft so when you are tired you can lie down and sleep. You also get free tea, coffee, soft drinks and best of all ice-cream! I really took advantage of that last one. (We have done a video clip of the place which we will put on Facebook when we leave China). So our firsts night crash pad was a Manga cafe! How Japanese is that?After only 5 hours sleep we slowly headed back to Tokyo station to collect our bags and then head to the hostel we booked. We eventually found it with the help of the police and a Canadian who has been living in Tokyo for 17 years.
That day we went to the area of Harijuku, famed for the girls who dress up in outrageous costumes. They meet up on weekends and prance and pose for people. If you look online you will see what we mean. There is a sad side to it all though as most of the girls are bullied at school and this is one of the ways that they cope with it.
Next to where the girls hang out, is a park. We headed into it to chill for a while. Now Japanese parks are like no other I have been in. There are loads of different groups of people doing group activities like chanting, dancing and shouting!!!??? All very surreal.
Just outside the park we came across a group of people dressed up in 50's gear and dancing to 50's music. They were in perfect sync and next to them were a group of blokes dressed like 50's rockers and they were dancing away too! We love the Japanese! We then stumbled on a mini festival which was uber-cool. The area was the same with amazing boutiques and super hip people.
As we were in Tokyo for over a week we will split the blog so it is not like War and Peace!
Only in Japan fact No.1 - Maid cafes. Cafes where the waitress's dress up in skimpy maid outfits and fuss over you.
We did the classic thing of crossing the famous Shibuya crossing where there are 6 zebra crossings all meeting in the middle of the road. As you can imagine it was packed but the Japanese have this amazing ability not to encroach on your space no matter how busy it is. Apart from on the commuter trains that is.
Later on Monday evening we went to Shinjuku. The area of Tokyo I was most excited to see. Just think of the film Blade Runner and that is exactly what Shinjuku is like. Huge skyscrapers, neon lights and people everywhere.
We had dinner in a place affectionately known as "Piss Alley". It is a really narrow alley with minute restaurants serving wonderful food. The booze cost us a fortune though!
Right I am realizing that this blog is still going to be huge so I am going to have to be more concise.
If you ever come to Tokyo you have to go to the Future museum. It is not really known but it is well worth a visit, plus it's free! Basically it has robots, intelligent cameras and products that will be available in the near future. One of the examples are vibrating walking sticks for blind people that have a camera at the end that detects when colours change on the pavement. They are using this system instead of the bumpy system that we use at the moment as the bumpy pavements are not very comfortable to walk on.
Not many people realize that Tokyo is actually a port city as you never really see photos of the bay area. It is another area worth a visit. There are lovely Japanese gardens on one side and on the island in the bay you get great views of the city and ocean.
That night after visiting the bay area there was a Halloween party in our hostel. The Japanese loooooveeeee Halloween and really go out there with their costumes!
The last thing i will mention is the world famous Tsukiji fish market. It's the world's largest and we headed there for a sashimi brunch. Needless to say that it was the freshest and best sashimi we have ever tasted. As I write this I can still taste it in my mouth even after 6 weeks! Yum yum yum!
Well I am sure you have read enough. I will sign off and Karen will write the next entry as it starts on a very special day for her!
Love you all!
Paul & Karen xxx