Greetings from the land of the rising sun.
We flew into Tokyo on Thursday night after visiting (briefly) four countries in twenty four hours. We are staying with Dave’s friends who have lived in Tokyo since 2006.
We spent our first day exploring Shinjuku Gyoen, an amazing garden in a traditional Japanese style. We then wondered the streets of Shinjuju for about 30 minutes trying to find the Tokyo Metropolitan Building. This I thought was quite hilarious as it the tallest building in Tokyo by a fair margin. Once we found the thing, we went up to the (free – stupid Sky Tower) observation deck to get a better view of the city. Apparently on a clear day you can see out to Mt. Fuki but it wasn’t a very clear day.
After trying to find a 7/11 shop with any lunchy things left and wondering into a closed restaurant causing much apologising and bowing we decided that Shinjuku is probably a little too busy around lunch time. For lunch we decided to take the train to nearby Harajuku where we could sit and eat in the park… although it did start raining straightaway.
We decided to brave going to a bar in the evening as we both were craving beer. The original plan was to get food too but the bar we found ourself in had a menu with very few pictures and was exclusively in Kanji (the symbols). We finally found somewhere to eat with nice easy english descriptions but it just happened to be an Italian restuarant… now the Japanese have an interesting take on Italian food. The pizza was bizarre but very tasty.
Today we got up and headed out to an animation museum out to the west of the city. The website had a fairly awful map and our Rough Guide didn’t provide a great description of it’s location so we stood looking bemused in front of a map at the station. This of course attracted much attention from concerned travellers. One man asked if we needed help and looked over the map to see if there was anything written in Japanese that would help. As this did not uncover any useful information and he did not know where the museum was himself he charged off to find someone who did know. After about five minutes he came back and said he could not find anything useful and the look of sorrow on his face that he could not help was quite moving. It’s definitely different from England where no one would offer to help a tourist and certainly not to that extent.
Anyway, after much walking we found the musuem which was actually a lot smaller than we would have hoped and we got round it very quickly. I did get to play with a 5 foot tall Gundam robot though!
As I expected, so far Tokyo has been the most amazing place. I have wanted to visit this city since I was a child watching films like Akira when other kids were watching Disney. We have a great deal planned over the next two weeks so I’ll hopefully add to what I’ve already uploaded on Flickr.