A Full Day In Tokyo
This article was written 14 years ago in 2006 when I was just 21, so I ask you not to judge the writing too harshly! The text is as it was originally published.
Due to the nature of jetlag, it has felt like 6pm all day, although it is still only 5.30pm now. Soon I will be in sync. I thought I'd be adventurous, so I tried the full on Japanese breakfast this morning, and I did it with chopsticks too. I was a little disappointed to see all the natives using knife and fork, but I showed them how. I tried pretty much everything in the pots. Maybe a little too adventurous, and I will be staying away from anything blue and slimy tomorrow morning, because although it 'slipped down' it wasn't exactly a wonderful experience.
I thought I'd share this piece of information now, as if I tell you where I ate last night you will think that I am totally bland. I had a Subway. I will argue that Japanese Subs do taste different and you can have chips as well if you like (I didn't). I did however have a drink that was the colour of Kryptonite, which was nice.
So far there haven't been any major problems. Mostly things have been lost in translation, but once you get the hang of the subway system (I now realise the prices refer to zones as in London, not per trip costs) its fairly smooth going. I feel like a local. Well, a local who doesn't really know what he's doing, and forgets to use the money trays, and forgets how to say thanks. Apart from that, a real local.
The Hotel Universe is a stones throw from a subway station, so getting out of bed, through food and onto the underground by 9am this morning wasn't a problem. First stop was Aoyama and the Meiji Shrine, which sport the largest torii in Japan apparently. It used to be the personal gardens of the Emperor and the iris garden was a favourite of his. Luckily I have arrived in the two week gap every year when the irises flower, and it is spectacular, if not rammed from beginning to end with a stream of (Japanese) tourists who all are trying to outdo each other with camera kit. It makes my SLR kit look quite pathetic. That said, I have taken approximately 70 photos in the past two days, so doing quite well.
I ate lunch after a comprehensive walkabout and ordered the Beef Curry Rice when the woman behind the counter couldn't tell me what the 'special toppings' on the buckwheat noodles was. After a stroll back through the busy streets (past all the designer shops; Harajuku and Aoyama have a reputation as the place where, as my guidebook states, the 'Teenage Hipsters' hang out). On from here I took the subway to the crammed riverside markets of Asakusa where I wondered for an hour or so in the heavy heat, pursuing the narrow streets and winding stalls that are woven tight with an unhealthy number of overhead cables. I also investigated the Senso-ji Temple, the oldest temple in Tokyo and impressively lavish. By midday the place was brim-full of tourists and so I moved on again.
For the next stop I came right back across town to Marunouchi, the oldest quarter of Tokyo and possibly the most barren. Like Washington DC, it was very sparse bar the important buildings, and it took quite a walk from the station to the Imperial Palace. After taking some photos of what I thought was the Imperial Palace, I walked a little further only to discover I had been a little mistaken and I had to take all my photos again.
On the walk back I used the vending machines again. A different experience to the ones in the UK, you don't always know what you are getting, mostly due to the language issue. I most recently bought an ice tea, although I didn't know that until I opened it.
Tonight there are two final districts I want to explore (rather than stay inside and watch the interesting, colourful and somewhat bizarre television programmes). I can't remember what time my flight is, but I will need to check that out. I haven't yet decided what I have for food tonight either. Oh, by the way, the girls here are stunning.
I managed to lynch another Mac today and have been abusing the free internet. Notice came through of my dissertation mark (finally) and I managed to hit 70. I'm happy, very happy to have a First, although I do think I would have appreciated a mark one or two points higher... Can't complain though; I did manage to acquire international notoriety after all. Swanny did the calculations the other day and worked out (even though he was drunken) that I was on for a definite 2:1. I'm more than happy at this as there are many friends of mine back at home sweating that they are sitting on the borderline. I'd much rather know than have to wait until grades day.
I was hoping to upload a photo, but I haven't got my USB cable with me.
This post was first published on Sat Jun 17 2006 originally on justbeyondthebridge.co.uk, my former personal blog