City of 12+ Million: Tokyo

Tokyo Travel Blog

 › entry 7 of 7 › view all entries

The transition from Osaka to Tokyo was the smoothest one to date. Meaning we actually found our hostel on our first attempt for the first time to date. We had about a 15 minute walk from the closest train station to our hostel (only because we were too cheap to pay 2 bucks for the subway), but the directions were very easy to follow which helped for once. The reception was nice and the checkin was smooth; K's House Tokyo had much the same feel as the one in Kyoto so we felt pretty comfortable there. We were stuck in our first dorm room though which had 7 bunks. I was lucky enough to get the odd bed out so I had no one sleeping overhead. After settling down, we went shopping for groceries at the "near by" supermarket (where we got lost on the way... of course) and picked up our dinner to be cooked later. We grilled up some chicken and had a killer salad and everyone was quite impressed with it (score one for Saltlik). The rest of the evening was pretty laid back (meaning we had a few drinks...) talking to the other people staying in the hostel. We did meet one guy who was from the states who had been over in China for the summer taking a Chinese course, he proved us with some pretty cool information about some different stuff to do in the places we were to stop later on.

Our first full day in Tokyo started off by going to Harajuku. While it was definitely a shopping area, it was kind of a let down. There weren't many of the Gwen Stefani Harajuku girl style shops left right and center, instead Harajuku was more of an upscale shopping district consisting of world-reknown brand-name stores so there wasn't really much to do other than window shop. There were a few girls here and there walking by decked out in the "style" so it wasn't a complete let down. After we got tired of that area we headed to Odaiba, a very "futuristic" shopping and entertainment part of Tokyo, also one of the main port areas. To get here involved changing a few trains but we ended up crossing the famed Rainbow Bridge on the train to get there. It was pretty cool to get a view of the area on the train. The buildings here were some of the most modern in the city. Especially noticable were the Fuji TV Building and the Telecom Center. Anyways, we first walked into what we thought was an ordinary mall called Decks, but this place was really cool. Jen got lost in some of the stores there (figuratively, not literally) so I did some wandering of my own since after all the shopping done this day I had no disire to continue with it.  Instead, I checked out the other venues of the mall and ended up in the arcade (which consisted of 3 different stories of games and what not). We met up again later and found a few knick-knacks here and there then headed home for the night.

On our second full day we made a trip out of Tokyo up to the town of Nikko. The trains took about 3 hours each way, but in the end it was definitely worth it. The walk from the train station to the temples was about 30mins uphill, but it was nice to stretch the legs after the train ride. We bought the collective ticket to see all 5 sights (a clever marketing ploy since there's only one thing that all the tourists want to see). So we saw the Rinnoji Temple and Taiyuinbyo Shrine before entering one of the coolest shrines we'd seen in Japan, the Toshogu Shrine. This shrine was built as a mausoleum for the first Tokugawa shogun, Ieyasu. What had this one stand out to me was that it still retained all of the beautiful colours on the all the different buildings. It really accented the carvings on the walls to be seen in colour. Obviously most of it had all be restored, but the damage done by time was not nearly as bad here as in other areas of Japan so the original colours were still around to be matched. My favourite carving was of the three monkeys, which I was informed of later by Jennifer herself represented the "hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil" (she's a very bright girl!). We then made the trek back to the train and headed home.

Disneyland was the draw of the next morning, but the admission was pretty steep and this Disneyland was pretty much the exact same as LA's, so we didn't bother going in. But at least Jenny got her fix. Instead we headed to the electronic district of Tokyo, Akihabara. This place was probably stood out the most to me since I was in my element; unfortunately the shops didn't want to bargain, so I didn't end up buying anything extravigant. Trev would have liked some of the shops since they were full of action figures from all our favourite video games and anime shows (fine... I'll admit, I liked them too, although Jen wasn't too impressed, she just doesn't understand). It still is hard to get used to the fact that stores build up, not out and around,  so it was weird to climb 9 stories in one store that was the best store ever for sovenirs. We spent some money there... Now carrying a few bags in hand we headed to the Ginza district to have a little look around. It was much the same as Harajuku, but had a lot taller buildings and some offices, not just stops. Unfortunately, the Sony Building was closed for maitenance, which sucked big time because it only reopened the day we had to fly out of Japan. Oh well, it got better when I finally tried a local delight (well they treated it as the best thing ever), a Belgum waffle. The Japanese sell them in select stores as treats, not breakfast items and I devoured mine. Yum. Anyways, it was getting late so dumped our purchases back at the hostel and  went for some dinner at a local place somewhat nearby. It was a Japanese noodle joint so we had a bowl, but I added some tempura to mine. Tempura is probably the best thing to ever come out of Japan; foodwise at least. Then we called it a night.

Our last day in Japan started early for me. The plan was to head to the Tsukiji Fish Market at 6AM, but Jenny had nothing to do with that when I came to wake her up. So I was off on my own. The subway station was right outside the hostel and went right there. I got there about 6:30 and found madness. Little 3 wheel motorbikes were wizzing around everywhere carrying crates upon crates of fish, crabs, octopi, etc. I walked around the stalls (which were cramed everywhere) and found the loading bay where all the madness began. It was pretty cool to see the unloading of the fish and transfer to bikes. The selections of seafood was probably the most I had ever seen anywhere. Different cuts of pretty much every kind of fish I could imagine; cheap too. I bought 2 fillets of salmon for 500 yen, or 5 bucks Canadian and it was very tasty too. I had more prawn tempura for breakfast at one of the local stalls. So fresh, so good. I made my way back from there and fell asleep for a few hours. When I woke up, Jen was also just waking up (silly girl). In our last day in Japan, we went to the Imperial Palace in the middle of Tokyo.  Since the Imperial Palace is in use today, it is only open to the  public on 2 days every year, so we couldn't go in. The only place open to the public was the East Gardens. This was kind of a let down since we had seen the palace, not some second rate garden (although the gardens really shouldn't be talked about like that because the gardens were unreal). But in the end, we didn't last all that long since most japanese gardens are the same. Instead, we headed to the most popular temple in Tokyo itself. It was in Asakusa and only a 10 min walk from our hostel. It was definitely cool, but we had definitely seen better and it was REALLY touristy (all those people who wanted to see a temple, but didn't want to put the effort into going to a good temple, lazy bums). We did, however, get drawn in by the souvenir street since this was our last chance to buy any local goods before we took off the next day. That night we bought a couple drinks (I've found that Japanese beer is really good!!!) and just chilled at the hostel. Some old Japanese guy, who wasn't staying at the hostel, was there dishing out some local food and drinks for the fun of it ("to practice English" was what he said)。 We then introduced ourselves to some Kiwis (or New Zealanders), Jen got on with the girl talking and all that girly stuff and I got on with her brother drinking the local beer and talking sports。

All in all it was a good night, but a very rough morning with a 5:30 walk up. I was definitely not feeling quite normal that morning. At least I had packed the day before. We headed off for the airport in Narita. What was supposed to be an hour train ride went horribly wrong and ended up being a 2 and a half hour train ride followed by a 45 min cab ride. So instead of being at the airport 3 hours before our flight we got there only an hour before. That cab ride was probablyt one of the most stressful things I had ever been through. We were so scared about getting on our flight when we got there, but we sailed through the checkin; apparently we still had plenty of time. The customs line wasn't even that long (thank god) but Jen didn't feel like waiting in that, so she told security she was "sick" and went straight through (mind you, she did throw up in the bathroom). She definitely found a quick way through security! Jenny was alright in the end, she just doesn't seem to actually travel well, flights at least. Anyways, we even had time to wait for the plane to start loading; huge relief there! Japan is now over. It's a very sad time; we had a great time in Japan. Loved every minute of it!!! Now we're off to China for a new beginning. We'll see how it goes. Talk to y'all later.

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photo by: maka77