Tokyo

Tokyo

Of course, I was eagerly awaiting Tokyo, not sure what I was going to encounter, but I expected it to be magical. It was magical alright, I got an awaking on arrival. I journeyed on an overnight coach bus from Kyoto, and almost got off at the wrong stop. The coach stopped at Disneyland, and for some reason the assistant on the coach thought this was my stop. I got off the coach asking him if he was sure, in English. He spoke no English but was hurrying me off. I got back on the coach and showed the driver my ticket, which was printed in Japanese, he motioned for me to sit. If you aren’t persistent sometimes, especially when you don’t speak the language you will find yourself in serious trouble. Of course it can sometimes come across as annoying, but I rather be safe, than sorry.

We finally got to the Tokyo drop off point, and a bit disheveled, I got off. It was very early in the morning too. The drop off point was outside one of the major train stations. As usual, with directions in hand, I made my way inside the station to get a train to the hostel I had booked. Now, I have travelled all over the world, and can easily pick up a train/tube/metro map and figure out which train I need on which line etc. Well, Tokyo put me in my place. The  train map in Tokyo is very complicated. I swear you need a degree to figure that out. I spent 1 hr aimlessly trying to help myself, and eventually resorted to waiting until the information office opened at 7.15am. By that time, the humans had started to flow and the speed at which these persons move through this station in the morning, make Grand Central in NYC look amateurish.

Finally, the office was opened and I got some help, and was on my way to the hostel. 30 mins after getting off the train, I was still wandering trying to find the street the hostel was on. I have never been confused on the streets, like I was in Japan. I eventually went to the lobby of a hotel, and the nice persons called the hostel, and got directions from where we were. That’s the reason why you should always have the info, included telephone numbers handy. Finally, I found it, to learn I had booked the wrong night. It’s so easy to make that mistake when you are travelling overnight, but what it meant was, my bed was available for me to sleep, even though I had to convince the clerk, that even if I didn’t show up last night, I am here now, and the bed was paid for.

Tokyo 1, BajanNomad 0

It could only get better from here. There were a few places on my list that I wanted to see. As I mentioned before I spent most of my time either wandering the street or people/culture watching. I was hoping to get in some sumo wrestling and see the dancehall Japanese girls in action, but that was not to be. I was told, it was the wrong time of the year. DSC_0760 DSC_0758 What I did:

Harajuku Girls

I fell in love with the harajuku culture, and made 3 trips stalking this fashion. Takeshita street and its surrounding environs is the mecca for this, and on the weekend, its crazy busy, but that’s when it is at its best. I could make a day out of secretly following these girls and watching their fashion. That’s not the only thing in Takeshita street, there are many stores which sell this type of clothing and also a few which cater to dogs. Dressing up dogs fashionably is also part of the culture. DSC_0658 DSC_0660 DSC_0763 DSC_0761 DSC_0654 Electronic Town

Another area I visited was Akihabara, or as its called Electronic Town. This area satisfies all your gadget needs. There are 7 story buildings filled with only gadgets lined on every street. It’s a geek’s paradise. We know how Japan likes gadgets and animation, and on every street there are television screens from the stores showing animation. Every few steps you make, you will see Japanese just standing in the street watching these screen, and thoroughly enjoying themselves. DSC_0614 DSC_0708 DSC_0707 DSC_0741 DSC_0737 DSC_0743 DSC_0735 Shibuya Crossing

As a tourist, you can’t go to Japan and not check out the famous Shibuya crossing. It is said to be the busiest crossing in the world, and can be found on most of the “things to do in Japan”  list. For the best view, head to the Starbucks overlooking the crossing, you may have to wait to get a good window seat, but it will be worth it. A lot of tourist actually go down and make the crossing while having their friends take photos/video as a Tokyo right of passage. I did the crossing myself and spent some time people watching from Starbucks. It’s amazing to see the crossing fill with persons ready to cross ever 1.5 minutes.

DSC_0620 DSC_0640 DSC_0628 Food

Not a huge sushi fan, but not indulging on a trip to Japan would be tantamount to blasphemy. I was so overwhelm by choice, so the first time, I stuck to what I knew about. It was good! I got a little adventurous as the days went by but some of the choices were downright disgusting. There are huge food courts in the basement of the train stations, so convenient. I visited a few markets as well, and found some huge fruits, some very familiar to me, like what we call in Barbados, the sugar apple and pomegranate. DSC_0688 DSC_0691 DSC_0689 DSC_0700 DSC_0702 DSC_0704 DSC_0723 DSC_0724 Capsule

I had read somewhere about sleeping in a capsule in Japan, but apparently its mainly done by men, who don’t want to travel home that night for what ever reason. Most of the capsule hotels will not take women at all. However, I found a hostel that had capsule accommodations, and I went for it. It was a very weird experience. Almost like how I would imagine being alive in a coffin would be. Certainly not for you if you are claustrophobic, and pray the person on the top of you is not weighty, you could be in for a bumpy ride.  Oddly enough, I enjoyed it, its like being in your own world, you can’t even hear what is going on the outside, but the space is very limited. DSC_0692What I saw: 

Promotion girls who hand out flyers, are dressed like little girls in a fairy tale, and some of them carry stuffed toys.

DSC_0754 DSC_0756 There are stores with 4 floors of action figures and arcades with vending machines of only action figures and stuffed toys, and they are always packed. DSC_0744 Japanese are exceptionally polite and helpful, even if they don’t speak English. One day while changing hostel I started to wander. I showed a guy who was unpacking some boxes from a truck the info I had written down, he left the boxes in the street and walked me 4 streets over to find the place.

Everyone sleeps on the train. I find comedy in the weirdest of things, but on every train, there are loads of persons sleeping, and leaning on the person next to them shoulders, even though they are not together, or trying to stand and sleep. I was too polite to capture it, as I don’t like to invade people’s privacy. There are some videos on youtube where persons have captured some of  it though. I remember being on a train and a family was seated across from me, and they were all asleep. A few times, it looked like the little boy would end up on the floor, and each time, he managed to lean back just in time for this not to happen. It was hilarious.

Japan is safe and streets are clean, and like the more developed Asian countries, things work and are on time. As crazy as the train lines are, they are super efficient and super fast. DSC_0666 DSC_0683 You will see people wearing mask on their faces in public. If you are not feeling well, you put on a mask and go to work/school, and you do not sneeze or cough in public without your mask. You see this in other parts of Asia too but more often in Japan. I coughed in the Australian Embassy in Hong Kong one day, and the guard brought me a mask. hahaha. They also come medicated or with different cartoon characters. DSC_0633The culture is very orderly. They line up for the train and it’s not uncommon to pass Krispy Creme and see a long line waiting to get in to buy doughnuts. I am not sure what is the deal with that DSC_0670 I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Japan, but I need to go back, there is still so much I have not seen. Even though it is considered one of the more expensive locations, I managed to do for USD$58 or £36 per day, and that included food, (and I don’t mean noodles), travel, laundry, accommodation and of course my mandatory souvenirs (I bought a geisha fan, some beautiful sake set and some other nic nacs . 100 Yen stores are awesome. Most days in Tokyo I would buy a day pass for about USD$9 or £5.65 and that would get me around. In most big cities, day tickets are cheaper if you leave after the early morning rush. Try to avoid the busy time, the trains are usually very full, and in Asia some men use that opportunity to cop a feel.

Bye!

Saw this crab outside a 100 Yen store

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