Monday, 16 May 2016

Week 5.1 - Tokyo

I was sad to leave China, but as I got comfy on our Delta airlines flight and passed the time with a chicken curry and an in flight movie (How to be single) I started to get really excited for the month ahead.

Watching everyone stroll through nothing to declare at NRT airport, and handing in their customs slips we thought we'd be ok too. But no, as soon as the man saw that we were staying 31 days the Spanish inquisition started. Thankfully he was nice enough, just shocked that we were staying so long....the question about what we did for work back home was tough to answer though!

Upon arrival in Tokyo we took the airport limo (a bus to me and you, a very nice bus actually) to the tube station. 2 trains later we arrived in Nishiarai, a local residential area in the north east region of Tokyo, where our hostel is located and for the first time in over a month, we got lost! However, after asking a young man for directions we were shocked when he walked us all the way to our hostel door. My favourite yet, the Eblem, is more like a hotel, and it even has an outside glass elevator so you can see over the city. 

We were just going to eat somewhere local on our first night, but we bumped in to Ren and Elena from America. They invited us to join them for tea, so we headed to Skytree town and the backstreets of Tokyo and enjoyed our first Japanese meal, tempura, washed down with plum wine, Umeshu, on ice. (A definite must drink if you can find any).


The next day we visited the Zojoji temple, Tokyo tower (like Blackpool, but more orange and white instead of red), a local park, Tokyo station and The Imperial palace. The palace is a beautiful site, surrounded by large gardens and waterfalls.
 

I was expecting the metro to be easy to navigate and quick to use in Tokyo, but on our first day exploring we found that it is extremely slow and it is quite difficult to work out which train goes where! However, the locals are so polite and helpful, always going out of their way to ensure that you get on the correct train. 

On our third day in Tokyo we headed to Akihabara. A journey which should of taken 20 minutes, ended up taking almost an hour. I told you the trains were complicated, especially if you don't bother to ask for help...*kyle*. Here we found game shops, arcades (don't think Blackpool, think every hardcore gamers wet dream), anime stores, everything geeky that you could possibly think of! The people playing the arcade games were amazing. They were playing games like street fighter and piano hero...one guy had a right sweat on playing that game, plus other stuff we'd never even heard of! It was a really enjoyable day, I'm just gutted we didn't buy an original Nintendo for £8! That bad boy would of paid for a months travel on eBay! 
 

For lunch you could choose to dine in a maid service cafe. Once inside a Japanese girl sits with you whilst you eat, and makes you feel like the owner of the place...for about £50 per person. In my opinion, this a little bit creepy and even more perverted, the girls can't have been much older than 15! 

We decided to head to Tsukiji fish market on day 4. Probably the busiest and loudest place we have visited in Japan yet. Local vendors sell all kinds of fish and sea creatures, dead, alive, chopped or whole. There's buggies and vans driving around everywhere carrying fish for stores and top ups for the emptier stalls. Im glad we got up early to make the trip as the market is set to move in November of this year, to prevent the tourism and assist the trade. We went into one of the local cafes next to the market afterwards, and sampled the freshest sushi ever, I don't think YoSushi will ever be the same again!
 

After this we went to Asakusa, filled with markets selling clothing, souvenirs and food. If you buy any food though, you have to stand in a designated eating area until you have finished eating, kind of takes the novelty out of an ice cream on a hot day. Here, we also went to the Senso-ji temple. Much busier and louder than the temples in China, but still beautiful and filled with Buddhist statues. We decided to test our fortune for 100yen, and got a really bad slip, things about fire, jobs and holidays. No worries though, you could tie your fortune to the wall and the gods will take it away! I'm hoping they manage to turn ours right around. 
 
We joined in with movie night on night 4, Big was the film of choice. 10 minutes in and we experienced an earthquake, (5.6 magnitude) I honestly don't think I have ever come so close to shitting my pants! Not helped when the staff say to hide under a table if it happens again! However, they later made an announcement to let us know that the building was stable and sturdy, and they would let us know if the government issued any warnings. Still this didn't make me feel much better in my top bunk on the 7th floor! 

We awoke the next morning, in our beds and not on the floor, to a rainy day. This gave us time to plan our journey to Hakone. A 2 and a half hour trip, which includes some subway, yay! 
 
I've been surprised by Tokyo, it took me a good few days to realise that I hadn't actually gone deaf after China. You can walk down the street without getting hit by a moped, and cross the road without getting honked at. It's so peaceful! There's less of a language barrier, and I've been overwhelmed by the friendliness of Japanese people. I can only hope that the rest of the month is the same because I am loving it!

Love Carrie xxx