So we’ve been in Tokyo now for 4 days and have been having a magnificent time in this enormous city!!! We’ve both travelled a lot but we’ve never been anywhere like Tokyo before. It’s like a combination of London and New York, just without any of the hassle, rubbish or danger.
The biggest barrier we’ve found is the language, but fortunately there are endless number of maps and street signs laid out around the city, so even when we’ve found ourselves dazed and confused we’ve always made our way back to the Hostel safe and sound!
The first day we arrived we went exploring and headed for the Shibuya Crossing to see the busiest pedestrian crossing in the world in action and also grab a picture with Hachiko the Dog statue (a true tale of a faithful dog who waited for his owner to return from work at the train station everyday, and continued to do so for 9 years after his owners death). We realised Japan were playing Australia in the World Cup qualifiers but didn’t realise that they would qualify that day with a draw. By the time we got our the tube station we were greater by thousands of excited Japan supporters all jumping up and down shouting “Nippon”! It was great to see and the difference between their fans and ours was pretty remarkable!
Another thing that hasn’t disappointed us in Japan is the food! The first night we went to a traditional Ramen shack and ordered something by pressing a button on a vending machine and hoping for the best. What we got was a delicious bowl of miso udon noodles which were prepared right in front of us and tasted pretty amazing. Our first meal was a complete lottery though where we just ordered an A and B special from the menu, but were relieved to get a pretty tasty noodle and pork dish.
Budgeting around Tokyo has been tough, especially when 60% of it has already gone on our hostel each day! We’ve resorted to a couple of supermarket lunches and Japanese Frosties for breakfast.
On our second day we wandered around the Imperial Palace gardens which were very peaceful and enormous considering they were right amongst the chaos that is just outside, turns out you couldn’t just rock up to the actual Palace and walk straight in like Caroline thought!! Think we ended up walking about 10 miles that day, but at least it was roasting hot. That night we went searching for the elusive Golden Gai district which is an area of Shinjuku made up of 6 alleyways with over 200 tiny bars, each only big enough for about 6 people and all themed differently. It took us ages to find it and we even wandered though the dodgy Soho like area of Tokyo which was like a neon comic book full of men in suits and girls dressed like Japanese School girls! We eventually found it, but only had time to stay for one beer as we had to get the last tube home. We are heading back there tonight to grab a couple of birthday drinks for me!
Last night we ate in Yakitori Alley which is a tiny area where they only serve you barbecued skewers of fish, meat and veg and it was a great experience and just like most of Tokyo we really felt special as we’ve seen very few tourists so far.
This morning Queen Eccles had me awake at 03:30 so we could get down to the Tsukiji Fish Market and witness the tuna auctions. Whilst it was ridiculously early it was worth it as we got to see a pretty unique process which I can only describe as like the auction bit in Homes Under the Hammer but for tuna twice the size of a man and in Japanese!!
After that it was time for a birthday breakfast like I’ve never had before as we went to one of the best two Sushi restaurants actually on the market, called Daiwa. We both ordered a set menu and had about 10 pieces of the freshest and most delicious Negri and Sashimi in the world, there was no doubting you’ll never get it fresher unless you eat on a boat. The only one that was very nice was something that looked like lots of small tongues, I had a little taste and wasn’t keen but Eccles went for it and tried to take a little bite, but it didn’t want to be broken in half so rather than let it fall on the counter she gobbled the thing down whole! What happened next was priceless as she couldn’t of looked me like she was going to throw up if she’d tried. She went a little red and I’m sure even gagged a little, I felt so bad for her that I didn’t even dare tease her at the time! She held it together just and didn’t hurl, thankfully. I decided I leave mine. It turns out what it was was sow thing called Umi which is actually the gonads of a sea urchin, allegedly quite the delicacy out here. It wasn’t for me, not on my birthday.
Eventually we wandered around the actual market which is the biggest fish market in the world, and was so unbelievably large it’s untrue. The guys all ride round on these stand up loading scooters and clearly don’t enjoy tourists being there as I’m sure they try and run you down.
Tomorrow we leave this fun city behind and head for the calm of Mount Fuji. Hope everyone back home is alright and we miss you all but will keep you updated with what we’ve been up to.
Tom and Caz