Greetings from my new favourite city in the world: Tokyo. We’ve been in Japan since 5am local time Friday morning and I’ve enjoyed pretty much every minute. The flight over – a First Class with British Airways – was the best I’ve had in my life. I’m now spoiled forever and economy seats will seem like torture by comparison.
Obviously, I jest. But for such a long flight, it was the most enjoyable way to go. Delicious food, comfortable seat/bed and friendly, attentive staff. And that was even before getting on the plane! The Concorde lounge in Heathrow T5 is really very lovely and the perfect start to any long flight. Thanks BA!
We had to kill five hours between getting to our hotel and being able to check in, so we got a day-along metro ticket and went exploring. This included quick visits to Rappongi Hills and Shubuya, where we saw and experienced it’s infamous pedestrian crossing.
Friday night, we explored a bit of Shinjuku, where we are based. The choice of bars and restaurants is mind-blowing! We ended up going to a specialist Katsu restaurant, where it was all about the deep-fried pork. Very, very tasty.
Where our hotel experience was all conducted through English, this was my foray into using the very basic Japanese I’d picked up. Here’s the thing: a little goes a long way. People seem to genuinely appreciate that you are making the effort and lots of please and thank-yous are a good idea anywhere.
All the same, it’s prompted me to learn more when I’m back in the UK. For my next trip to Japan 🙂
Jet lag has been a bit of an issue, but to be honest, my sleep cycle was really screwed up by the earthquake we experienced on Saturday morning at 2am. It was over 7 on the Richter Scale out in the Pacific, but you could still feel it here in Tokyo. Our hotel swayed a little – quite a strange feeling – followed by some alarms going off.
I have to be honest: I didn’t sleep again that night!
Due to a local typhoon, the weather here was a bit pants on Friday and Saturday. Warm and very wet, it covered everything in a mist. And the wind got a bit much at times.
After spending lots of Friday zipping around on the excellent metro, we instead walked everywhere on Saturday. It’s definitely the best way to get to know a city. We’ve walked about 15km a day since getting here, which hadn’t been noticeable at the time, but my FitBit is keeping track for me. It’s one way of dealing with all the additional calories I’m pouring into my face each day…
Undeterred by the weather, we made our way out to see the Meiji Shrine on Saturday.
Highlights for me so far have been:
1. Incredibly friendly and welcoming people in shops, restaurants and metro stations. They can’t do enough for you and approach to offer help if you look even slightly confused.
2. The city is both clean and well-ordered but also utterly chaotic depending on which street you’re on. So you don’t know what you’ll see from one moment to the next.
3. It’s definitely not as expensive as people would have you believe.
4. The food has simple been amazing!! Sure, navigating menus has been a challenge sometimes, but nothing we couldn’t deal with. Smiles, sign-language and the occasional animal noise have helped.
Yesterday we enjoyed the madness of a Halloween cosplay parade in the Harajuku neighbourhood and went shopping for gifts. I actually went a bit overboard having bought for others and got myself some “traditional” Japanese clothes, including Jinbei, a Haori and Yukuta. Not sure where or when I’ll get to wear them, but it definitely seemed like a good idea at the time!
This morning, we go on a day trip to Mount Fuji. Residual jet lag means I’ve been awake since 4am, but no harm as we need to be on a bus by 8am. And I have the hotel breakfast buffet to attack in the interim.