Tokyo Diaries – Part 1

My flight from Ho Chi Minh was meant to leave at 2am but was delayed for a few hours. A sleepless night for me. After a quick and easy connection in Taipei I landed in Tokyo Narita in early afternoon. After a minor hiccup at immigration (not knowing the address I was staying at) I was allowed into the country. Next step customs – bags xrayed and searched but all good. Now to figure out a train to Tokyo itself. It went surprisingly well and the Narita Express as a fair bit more comfortable than my flight over. As planned Andy was on the platform in Shibuya to meet me. The original and preferred plan was to grab a taxi – but it soon became apparent board bags and taxis do not mix in Tokyo. Back to the trains. This was as awkward as you could imagine – dragging a surfboard bag and other luggage up and down stairs and escalators, on and off trains then finally a 15 minute walk. At this point the three hours sleep over two nights was catching up with me. I smashed some food then passed out.

A new day and a new beginning. We kicked off with Sunday Brunch at the New Sanno hotel. An odd concept but basically a US Navy oasis in the middle of Tokyo – I was ok with feasting on some western food though. With full bellies we started strolling around and taking in the sights. The weather in December is cold, but dry and with blue skies. As long as you are wrapped up warm it is very pleasant indeed. We walked, talked and sipped beers and chuhais till late. It was nice to be out and about, taking in the sights and learning about Japan.

Monday I grabbed the camera and we headed out for a full day (fuller than I thought it would ever be) of taking in Tokyo. We cruised around town on foot mostly, stopping for food and drinks. We knocked a lot off the generic tourist list – saw a temple, had sushi for lunch, checked out the mad video games stores, all the crazy busy streets and bright lights, sampled other traditional foods etc. There are lots of less traditional details which I loved – people queuing in neat lines for trains, the style of the taxis with their automatically opening and closing doors.

Before long it was the evening – more traditional food and beverages. I am into the oolong-hai. All the refreshing goodness of iced tea but with a little kick. It was my drink for the evening. That night we moved from bar to bar chatting. I am not sure what happened with time but as we left one bar it was clearly daylight again. After some corner shop snacks, it was a taxi home and time to pass out.

After the incredibly long monday, Tuesday was uneventful. A write off really. It was raining anyway so was mostly spent wrapped in a blanket, only leaving the house to get food. Food is tricky in Japan. There are very few pictures which help much and little to no English on the labels. With most prepared foods being either wrapped in rice/batter/breadcrumbs, it really is hard to know what you are going to get.

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