We have made it to Tokyo. We arrived on Tuesday morning, found our hotel in the Ikebukuro region no problem and then just killed time for 3 hours before we could check in, whereupon we promptly fell asleep for the next 15 hours. Our room has traditional tatami mats and we get complementary yugata dressing gowns.
In terms of stereotypes, Japan has not disappointed. There are indeed thousands of vending machines, people in face masks, computerised toilets, and weird fish (every local shop has a wide selection of bits of dried octopus). It has been very hot and humid and the best thing I have brought has been my umbrella as I have copied the locals and used it as a parasol. Even though we’ve been using the tube at rush hour, it’s not been that horrendously busy like I expected. No worse than London.
Tokyo is just like you’d imagine – big, bustling and neon. We went to an observation deck on the 45th floor of one of the municipal buildings to try to get our heads around exactly how big Tokyo is. Pretty huge.
Ikebukuro (the locale where we are staying) is not even that central, but still makes Piccadilly Circus and Times Square look like graveyards. It’s also the red-light district, so it’s best if Mr Beet and I sally forth together, as both single men and women are targets for people advertising “Sexy Pubs” etc.
So far we have been to Hama Ryuku gardens, which were beautiful and had massive butterflies.
Then we went to the Sony showroom, where we played with the 3D cameras and Mr Beet picked out his birthday and Christmas presents for the next 5 years.
Meijo Jinja Shrine is located in beautiful wooded area, next to Yoyogi park; which seems to be a place for tramps to sleep during the week, and a place for teenage girl bands to rehearse (and for me to parkrun) at weekends.
Harajuku shopping district is like an explosion in Claire’s Accessories.
We are eating lots of yummy food, but with no Japanese it can be a bit hit and miss. Lots of restaurants have vending machines, which we’ve now sort of worked out, but we started off by making the universal gesture for “please help us, we are idiots who don’t know how to work the machine” at the waiter and going from there. We eventually got some yummy ramen this way, although next time Mr Beet has to wear his cagoule before tucking in.
This may look like a swanky hotel but actually it is Yebisu Beer Museum, where we made a brief gesture to looking around the exhibits before retiring to the “tasting salon”.
Akhibahara “Geek” District is the Mecca for anyone interested in comics, gadgets or young girls dressed in maid uniforms. This is apparently thought of as good clean fun, but I couldn’t quite get my head around it. I was too scared to go to one of the ‘maid cafes’ and find out for myself, certainly not the one that handed Mr Beet a flyer with a complementary pack of tissues.
Only a few days on Tokyo, so no time to do justice to everything it had to offer, but would definitely recommend it as a holiday destination. You might need to book a week on a beach to recover afterwards though.
More photos are available on Mr Beet’s flickr page – http://www.flickr.com/photos/mrbeet/sets/