Cara & Imouto’s World Adventure! Part 1 – Tokyo
So it’s been brought to my attention that many of you would be interested to hear a bit more of what I’ve been up to these past five months and perhaps see some of my photos – well I suppose that gives me something to write about!
I have been keeping a travel blog for my family & friends at home to keep track of, but I won’t be copy pasta-ing all that into this blog – for one it’s now over 30 word pages long, and it’s full of personal information that I would prefer to keep separate from this anime blog. So I’ll edit things a bit to make them better suited to here – I’m sure you’re all more interested in the pictures anyway! This post will cover Imouto & I’s experience in Tokyo.
So we only had two weeks in Japan because it is pretty expensive and we needed to ration out the cash while not skimping on doing stuff. Our plan was 5 nights in Tokyo, 1 in Hiroshima, 3 in Kyoto and 3 in Osaka with the final night near the airport in Narita since our flight to China was quite early in the morning. So anyway, after a long 11.5hr flight from London we arrived in Tokyo early in the morning and nearly died in the humidity.
Immigration took forever but was rather uneventful and I got our rail passes and onto the first few trains with little hassle – however I got us rather spectacularly lost when I got off at the wrong stop and the combo of jetlag, heat, and really heavy bags started to stress me out. Still we made it to our hostel in good time despite that little blip. Room was pretty nice but had to laugh at the itty bitty bathroom we discovered in the cupboard – not enough room to stretch your arms out let alone swing a cat! We did pretty well in the face of jetlag, only sleeping for a few hours before changing and heading out to explore the area and find something to eat.
We were staying in the Ueno area of Tokyo quite near the train station so it was pretty handy to get around. So the first day we decided to take it handy and have a wander round Ueno Park & zoo – because being huge children is what this trip is all about. We decided to head to Harajuku after lunch. The place was heaving, and there was so much style on show! Imouto & I decided we were very jealous of all the women with their cute clothes – things that would only look good on a rail thin Asian woman unfortunately.
For a change of pace we headed into Yoyogi Park and took a stroll through all its beautiful cedar trees until we reached the Meiji Shrine. The shrine complex is rather simple, but beautiful in its simplicity. We were very lucky to see a traditional wedding taking place when we got there – all the kimono & ceremony were really a treat to see. After making our wishes and pulling a fortune we left the Shrine and headed back into the hustle and bustle of Shinjuku. On route we stumbled upon a local festival procession complete with a load of blokes carrying a traditional float – fun times.
The following day was all about my being a huge geek and dragging Imouto along for the ride. As a result we hit up the Ghibli Museum in Mitaka, Akihabara and Odaiba to see the Gundam – we even gave karaoke a whirl. The Ghibli Museum is a gorgeously designed building stuffed full of beautiful features – I was utterly enamoured of the stained glass windows & light fixtures. Unfortunately we weren’t allowed to take pictures inside the museum, so had to settle for enjoying the exhibits & snapping the exterior & roof garden.
Of course I was in my element in Akiba, but the couple of hours we spent there was nowhere near enough time to really get round everything, so settled for browsing through Mandarake (got so sidetracked in the doujinshi section, Imouto lost me there for a while – still couldn’t find any Shiki doujins though), a few of the huge arcades (even had a go at the creepy purikura photobooths that make your eyes gigantic) and having a giggle at the Meido Cafe advertisements.
We made it down to Diver City in Odaiba in the evening just in time to catch the last show for the Gundam – seeing it all light up with the smoke & music was pretty damn amazing; Imouto and I both agreed that it was a highlight, and she doesn’t even like Gundam shows all that much! We also got on the giant ferris wheel in Palate Town – the nighttime of Tokyo in all its neon glory views were stunning (although our cameras were both rubbish for night pictures).
Since we were pretty hyper at this point we decided to give karaoke a whirl – which was interesting. For a start the staff didn’t really speak any English, so I was going on my rather piss poor Japanese and knowledge from anime to try and decipher what the feck we were meant to do in the booth. Eventually after stabbing a few buttons I managed to call up a few Japanese songs I knew and chanced upon a couple of English language ones for the Imouto – rather amusing to try and sing purely from memory since I can’t read Japanese! Our attempt to order drinks was rather tragic too – we wanted plum wine, but ended up with whiskey & tonic water…….eww.
Next day we just spent sightseeing round Ginza and Ikebukuro – the ice cream museum in Sunshine City was a highlight, who knew rose flavoured ice cream would actually be tasty? I was also quite amused to find they had a Tiger & Bunny promotion running with lots of desserts themed after the show – was on my own in that amusement though, Imouto hasn’t seen the show!
our last day in Tokyo so we headed off for a mixture of old and new. Starting off in nearby Asakusa, we went to the Senso-ji temple – a beautiful complex of traditional buildings and gracefully landscaped gardens. The street leading to the temple was rammed full of traditional little stalls selling the usual tourist wares & some local speciality foods. We stopped to try some dango since I’ve forever been curious about them – they were very, very tasty!
After wandering about the temple for a bit, seeing another traditional wedding (and getting rid of the very talkative little old Japanese man who stopped to chat), we hopped on a shuttle for the nearby Tokyo Skytree. This tower only opened in February and it is absolutely massive – 360ft! Unfortunately it was an overcast day with some rain, so we didn’t get to see Mt Fuji, but the views of the city were still breathtaking.
After a bite to eat, we had a stroll through the Imperial Palace Gardens and the area around Tokyo station, before heading for the bright lights of Shinjuku and Shibuya. In Shinjuku we stumbled across an Irish pub, so just had to stop for a drink and some onion rings (because nothing says Ireland quite like onion rings?). On route to Shibuya we experienced Japanese rush hour trains and the mentalness that is the scramble crossing outside the station as well as getting to see the Hachiko statue. Sitting in the Starbucks overlooking the scramble crossing was an experience – people everywhere!
That’s all we had time for in Tokyo unfortunately – there is so much I still want to see and you could easily spend the entire two weeks in Tokyo and still not see everything. I will definitely be back at again to explore the area around Tokyo too – I’d like to see Nikko, Yokohama, Kamakura and Hakone.
Well this post certainly ran a bit overlong! I had intended to cover the whole two weeks in one post, but guess my rambling got away from me as usual! To make up for it here’s more pictures! I will try to get the rest of Japan into one post next time!