Tokyo is one big crazy city. Roads and train lines criss cross over each other into the sky, video billboards shout for your attention at every intersection and the crowds keep flowing all hours of the day. It really does feel like the city of the future. Yet with a population of 24 million, triple London’s, there’s no pushing and shoving, no car horns blaring and people will move seats on the subway so that friends can sit together.
We’ve had a hectic week here, burning the candle at both ends and then melting it a bit in the middle. Days have involved getting up pre 6am to go check out the fish market or collecting a hire car to drive out to Mt. Fuji. Whilst only one night of the week didn’t involve being out until the last tube or later to see the flip side of Tokyo with its crazy drinks promotions like 4 hour all you can drink for 1000 yen (£5).
We have been staying in a sick little studio apartment walkable from Shinjuku, one of the big nightlife districts here. Many kilometres have been covered on foot seeing all the tourist sites and districts. We trekked down from our apartment through the quirky Haraduke district and the large temple beside it all the way down to Shiboya and its famous multidirectional crossing that must have tens of people recording whenever the lights go green.
Some of our best experiences have come thanks to hanging out with some of the Japanese girls from Niesko, especially Hisae and Eiri. They look us to some great locations, restaurants and also opened up a whole new world of communication with the locals. It wouldn’t have been possible to spend an hour chatting with a sumo wrestler without them, and a local temple that had a huge flower display around it was way better than the overly touristy Sensoji temple.
A big thing I’ve found about Tokyo is that it isn’t a city trying to sell itself to tourists. Japan is very different to many other Asian countries I’ve visited, with its economy being on a similar playing field to ours. So when you visit Akihabara, the big anime and electronic district, you aren’t swarmed by the girls dressed in little maids outfit’s; some may pass you a leaflet, but in general you move through quite undisturbed.
We’ve caught the tail end of the cherry blossom here in Tokyo, so the gardens and parks still had hues of pink, red and white lining the pathways and lakes. Tokyo is a beautiful city, one that looks better at night. We got awesome views of it when we drove back from Fuji along the highest super highway along the river then over the rainbow bridge. I was attempting to look around and take it all in whilst also concentrating on not the easiest drive ever.
Our day trip out to Fuji was good fun. We didn’t drive out for Mt. Fuji, but Fuji-Q highlands, the big theme park that lies in its shadow. When we arrived after a stressful drive through rush hour Tokyo, the volcano was mostly shrouded in cloud, a state it is in the majority of the year. We got bad news at start with two of the big rides not running due to strong winds. Those that were going were great though and the highlight was the afternoon when the sky’s cleared and Mt. Fuji was there before us. Spinning around upside down with Japan’s largest volcano flashing before us was pretty special.
It wouldn’t be a trip to Tokyo without seeing some crazy cars and drift action. We’d watched Tokyo drift in preparation before arriving here, so to watch the suped up cars sending it round the track was good fun. As a goodbye to Tokyo I went and got a new tattoo with a traditional artist who used the traditional Tebori technique of hand tapping the work alongside the modern machine way. It was a long session and by the final hour I was very ready for him to be finished! I’m looking forward to seeing it when it has healed and not so sore, carrying my bag today has been difficult.
We are now down to just Eoghainn and I as we continue our adventure onwards to Osaka, we did miss our flight here, but that’s for the next post. Safe to say we’ve made it. Only heard good things about the city, so excited to go check it out. I’m back to blogging from my tablet for the first time since India, so there won’t really be any image inserts anymore, I’ll try keep my Flickr as up to date as possible.