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Day 1 - Ohayo Gozaimasu Tokyo

Tokyo Travel Blog

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Imperial Palace East Gardens
So after years of planning, saving and day dreaming, I finally arrived in Japan and set my feet on Asian ground for the first time. Landing at Tokyo's Narita airport at 9.30am in the morning, I was amazed at how quickly I breezed through customs and how I found my luggage already waiting for me. This was my first but certainly not last taste of Japanese efficiency. Before I knew it, I had bought my N'Ex ticket and Suica card and was on the way to Tokyo station.

Let's back up a second though. The first leg of my trip wasn't so smooth, as my 12 hour overnight Megabus journey from Aberdeen to London had me cursing. Firstly, I couldn't sleep at all, aside from about 1 hour that was made up of 10 minute installments.
Imperial Palace East Gardens
And then the unthinkable, my worst fear actually happened. We broke down. My frustrations grew as the driver was totally ignorant, insisting that they delay could be anywhere between 1 to 5 hours, and laughed off my chances of catching my flight. However, we were on our way on a replacement bus and arrived into London 2.5 hours late, and luckily I had given myself a good few hours to catch my flight.

My trip improved greatly upon arriving at Heathrow, and boarding my Virgin Atlantic flight was a total breeze with their self service kiosk check-in. This was my first flight with Virgin and I was very impressed. The entertainment was extensive and got me through an arduous 11.5 hour flight, as I watched The Hangover, I Love You Man and New Town Killers. The food was very good for plane grub and there were a few nice air hostesses!

Anyways, where was I.
Imperial Palace East Gardens
......... on my way to Tokyo station. The train ride was great, passing by a very green section of countryside before edging into the urban sprawl of Tokyo. Upon arriving at the station, I needed to change trains to get to the Sakura Hotel in Jimbocho, and so headed for the underground. I couldn't believe how easy this was to navigate and was soon on my train. Everything was spotless, both on the platform and in the train itself. The people all sat quietly and respected each others space. Riding the subway quickly became one of my favourite things to do out there, a great place for people watching.

Arriving at the hostel easily enough from memorizing its whereabouts from Google Maps, I checked in, had a quick change of clothes and was out again. My destination was the Imperial Palace East Gardens.
Imperial Palace East Gardens
Located a 5 minute walk from the hostel, it was a good introduction into my sightseeing here. The gardens were pleasant and comprised mostly of remnants of it's former greatness, in particular the moats, guardhouses and the remains of the castle tower. I wandered around the Japanese style garden and circled the pond to watch the Koi, who followed me around curiously.

Having done a power of walking, and photography, I returned to the hostel and met one of my dorm mates. Riku was a Finnish chap, also on his first trip to Japan and was a big anime fan. After getting to know each other, we headed off to Akihabara in pursuit of some dinner and for me, my first stroll under the famed neon streets.
Imperial Palace East Gardens


Akihabara, known as Electric Town, was quite an eye-opener. Store upon store selling electronic fare sat shoulder to shoulder next to each other, occasionally sandwiched between them was an anime store or video arcade. Otaku ducked in and out of the anime stores, and as night had fallen the whole area was a maze of neon lights. The cacophony of the Pachinko fought with the vendors on microphones selling the latest laptops. This was a serious contrast to the serenity of the Imperial Palace East Gardens of earlier in the day.

After being introduced to the wonder that is Kare Risu (to be interpreted as Curry Rice) for dinner, I had my first proper and most bizarre Japanese experience, a Maid Cafe. On several of Akihabara's streets there are teenage girls dressed as maids handing out flyers for their cafes.
Imperial Palace East Gardens
Wanting to experience Tokyo to the fullest, we ventured inside said cafe for one of my most surreal travel moments.

Upon entering the cafe we were welcome in by 3 more maids, dressed in full uniform and speaking at an incredibly high pitch. My eyes scanned over the cafe to find it populated by a mixture of salary workers, otaku and a handful of other tourists. The walls were decorated with cartoons and their was a sizable plasma T.V playing some anime. One of the maids came and took our order. I opted for a slice of cheesecake and Riku settled for an omelete stuffed with rice. As our food was placed at the table, the serving maid proceeded to sing a song with hand actions and then drew a picture of a cat with wiskers on Riku's omelete with tomato ketchup, whilst remaining high pitched throughout.
Imperial Palace East Gardens
We just looked at each other and thought what the hell is going on here!

After leaving the cafe we were still wondering just what we had experienced. 16 year old girls, dressed as maids, speaking in high-pitched voices, serving middle-aged men and tourists alike food and drink in a room resembling a nursery. Bizarre! But only in Japan I guess, and I felt glad I had went despite the little nagging feeling that their was something quite immoral about the whole maid cafe scene. You got to try anything once though.

The exertions of the previous 2 days travel left me feeling absolutely knackered, so I retired back to the hostel and straight into my bed. My head barely touched the pillow and I was asleep.
Paisaroundeworld says:
Cool ...!
Posted on: Nov 15, 2009
junjunph says:
Congrats!
Posted on: Oct 01, 2009
montecarlostar says:
Congrats on your feature!!
Posted on: Oct 01, 2009
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Imperial Palace East Gardens
Imperial Palace East Gardens
Imperial Palace East Gardens
Imperial Palace East Gardens
Imperial Palace East Gardens
Imperial Palace East Gardens
Imperial Palace East Gardens
Imperial Palace East Gardens
Imperial Palace East Gardens
Imperial Palace East Gardens
Imperial Palace East Gardens
Imperial Palace East Gardens
Imperial Palace East Gardens
Imperial Palace East Gardens
Imperial Palace East Gardens
Imperial Palace East Gardens
Imperial Palace East Gardens
Imperial Palace East Gardens
Imperial Palace East Gardens
Imperial Palace East Gardens
Imperial Palace East Gardens
Imperial Palace East Gardens
Imperial Palace East Gardens
Imperial Palace East Gardens
Imperial Palace East Gardens
Imperial Palace East Gardens
Imperial Palace East Gardens
Imperial Palace East Gardens
Imperial Palace East Gardens
Imperial Palace East Gardens
Imperial Palace East Gardens
Imperial Palace East Gardens
Imperial Palace East Gardens
Imperial Palace East Gardens
Imperial Palace East Gardens
Imperial Palace East Gardens
Imperial Palace East Gardens
Imperial Palace East Gardens
Imperial Palace East Gardens
Imperial Palace East Gardens
Imperial Palace East Gardens
Imperial Palace East Gardens
Imperial Palace East Gardens
Imperial Palace East Gardens
Imperial Palace East Gardens
Imperial Palace East Gardens
Imperial Palace East Gardens
Imperial Palace East Gardens
Imperial Palace East Gardens
Imperial Palace East Gardens
Imperial Palace East Gardens
Imperial Palace East Gardens
Tokyo
photo by: maka77