About Me

maker, creative, living lightly, local, craft, minimalism, and taking joy in the small things

Thursday, 10 April 2008

Tokyo Town

After Xav, Geoff and I did our temple tour in Kyoto we jumped on a Shinkansen up to Tokyo. It was an uneventful 2h 45m ride, and of course Geoff had a nap on the train. We arrived at Tokyo Station, and negotiated the subway to the hostel. Actually, once we came out of the subway the hostel was super easy to find, and incredibly close. Literally less than 100m from the subway exit. We stayed at another branch of K's House - the second branch for the trip. The one in Kyoto is a little roomier, but the Tokyo one is so convenient, and quite frankly, you can't really expect to get the same amount of space when rent prices are so much higher.

Our hostel was about 10 minutes from Senso-ji, so on our first afternoon we dawdled our way up there, taking a fair bit longer than 10 mins. Senso-ji is a pretty amazing temple, huge, and crazily commercialised. All the streets leading up to the temple are filled with souveneir stalls, and people shopping!

The next day, Friday, we met up with 2 older Japanese people, whom I found through the Tokyo Free Guide service, and they walked us around Ueno, and after we separated for lunch, Shibuya.

Ueno-koen was more sakura/hanami. Basically tarps and beer and sakura. Then on the edges of the park are museums, and various national institutions, and of course more temples/shrines. The weather was really nice - definitely tee shirt weather, so the tarps were filled with people staking their places for the weekend!

The boys and I had booked lunch at La Rochelle, Sakai's (Iron Chef) restaurant on the 32nd floor of the Shibuya Cross Tower. Whoa. Nelly. So we were totally underdressed, of course, aside from some American tourists at another table. I forgot that Iron Chef finished on Japanese TV almost 10 years ago, so to most Japanese people it is just a nice restaurant, but to us it was an EXPERIENCE!

All the food was phenomonal - as expected. Notable amongst the dishes were the cold appetiser (bonito tartare), the soup (scarily green, but delicious) and the dessert wagon. Yes, a waitress wheeled over a wagon full of cakes, puddings, ice cream and jelly. We elected for the 'tasting plate' - a slice or spoonful of practically everything! My favourite was the phenomonal chocolate brulee.
After lunch we retired to the salon for tea - how civilised!

We caused some difficulties for the staff - the menu was written in French and Japanese, and the waiters were ok in dealing with the food in both those languages, but the introduction of English threw them a little! Actually, it was quite funny - they spoke to us in French/English, and their speech was punctuated by bows!

After lunch we met up with our 2 Tokyo guides, who led us on a short loop through Shibuya before they headed home.

We headed for Shinjuku, to ascend the Tokyo Metropolitan Government building - to the free 42nd floor Observation Deck. It was getting dark, and watching the lights over Tokyo was cool! Then we headed to Yodabashi, which Xav and I referred to as 'that camera store'. It really is 8 floors of electronics, many of which we haven't imagined in Australia! Afterwards Geoff and I ate dinner, and Xav did some night time wandering, then of course we hit the karaoke booth!

On our final day of the trip (Saturday) we went to Harajuku. I have been previously on a Sunday and experienced the madness, and while Saturday wasn't as crazy, it was still pretty great! We did some shopping - kiddyland (the ice cream of the future), tee shirts in transparent cans (UT shop) and bought some souveneirs for people who weren't lucky enough to join us on our trip. Then we had lunch - at a restauarant that seemed to have more English speaking waiters than Japanese speaking ones, and then ate a crepe. We were going to get 1 between 3, but then we saw them, and wanted one each! We enjoyed a lot of J fashion, just sitting outside the shops and watching people walk past us, while we attempted to take photos discreetly!

We went up to Roppongi that evening, supposedly a hip and happening entertainment area. Not really that fun, so we ate dinner and then eventually headed back to the hostel.

Next morning Xav went horrendously early to Narita Airport, and Geoff and I made our way to Haneda Airport at a much more reasonable hour, to be at my apartment in Hagi just after 5pm

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