Tokyo: Days Five and Six

Had a pretty chilled couple of days. Yesterday, I went to Mirakan and got inside this time – I saw the famous little robot in action which is pretty cool to see, another which is borderline creepy and got to step onto a spacecraft. As a whole, the museum is pretty interesting but gets a bit boring when it comes to the physics exhibit.

After, I popped to Akihabara again and looked around the shops – floors and floors of anime and various character toys. Also went to a massive electrics shop, straight to the toy section – most of my time was spent in the Marvel and Pokemon sections. After, I went to one of the arcades with six or so floors and played heaps of games – probably threw £10 at least away, but it was fun.

There’s a few travel blogs that I follow, and every time I visit somewhere new I always check them out before as someone has already been there. One of the recommendations was to go to the basement in Asakusa main station and try some sushi – it’s such a popular station, but I did not see another white person eating. I ended up in a small restaurant, being served sushi by someone who spoke no English which was pretty neat. In the past, I’ve never really had fish sushi unless it’s salmon as I’m pretty sure that I can’t stomach it too well and I was right – I can handle glass after glass of wine (or I like to think so) but I can’t handle mouthful after mouthful of fish. Truth be told, that’s the way I’d prefer to keep it.

Afterwards, I headed to Shinjuku and went to the park there, via a 7-11. There’s this thing, and I’m not too sure if it’s just a backpacker thing or just everyone in general, but in Asia you should go and pick up something strange from there and try it out. You can get whipped cream and berry sandwiches here, but I opted for this green tea dessert and it was so gross it was fascinating. It was a green tea jelly stuffed with whipped cream and dusted with green tea powder, and had the consistency where you had to slurp it to eat it.

This evening, I had a ticket for the Robot Restaurant – pretty pricey, but well worth it. Just sat there wondering what on Earth was going on for an hour or so; it just gets to the point where you wonder if it can get any weirder and then it well and truly does. For dinner, I didn’t actually eat at the restaurant because I’ve heard that it’s not worth it so instead I opted to go to Golden Gai, had some Karaage chicken which was pretty good as well as a few other snacks, before heading back to the hostel.

Tomorrow, I should be off to Fuji for a day before heading to Kyoto for the rest of the trip, before nipping back to Tokyo to get the flight back. I’ve heard a lot about Tokyo being out there and just crazy which is the opinion of people who haven’t lived in a big city. For me, it has been a lot like London – nothing that I can’t handle, just a bit more crazy, though with that said I have enjoyed it.

In hindsight, I probably should have rested a few days from work before coming here, or just not have had such a crazy night when I left work as I have found myself very tired over the past few days. This trip so far has been the reminder that there is more to life than work and my priority should be just having a good time and not worrying about text messages or phonecalls about bloody microherbs on my days off.

Tokyo: Days Three and Four

Over the past couple of months when I’ve had two days off work in a row, I’ve slept for at least 30 hours over two days and can really feel my body just wanting to do that. I’ve tried to power through, but the past couple of days I have really felt it so haven’t really done a lot.

Yesterday, I started the day at Tsukiji Fish Market. I really had my hopes up for it being great, but had seen better markets whilst travelling through Europe – La Boqueria in Barcelona, for example. It was alright, but nothing spectacular, so I moved onto try and find some sushi in Ginza but couldn’t find anything that I was up for. Instead, I found a conveyor belt restaurant but have had better in Sushi Hub on Swanston Street in Melbourne CBD.

I then went to Akihabara, walked past the worlds biggest sex shop and popped in for fifteen minutes or so – couldn’t really help myself, then went through the electric city. When you’ve seen one shop, it’s kind of all the same, so feeling underwhelmed, I went back to the hostel for a nap.

During the evening I went to Tokyo Tower. I was under the impression that it would be surrounded by places to eat, like you would find in Europe, but apparently not. I found a place round the corner that did food in a Japanese tapas kind of style which was great. I also wanted to have a look around Shibuya during the night but as it was raining I just picked up a bowl of ramen.

Today,  I went to Miraikan, supposedly an insane science museum. I say supposedly because it was shut, so I’m going back there tomorrow. I went to the Imperial Palace after which was nice to look at but didn’t really fancy going on a guided tour of the grounds as I was wearing all black and it was bloody hot.

When I returned back to my bed/drawer and had a google as to what I could do this evening, though I had already decided that I would mainly chill out. On google, I found a restaurant that specialises in Onigiri (rice balls, or rather, triangles) which is Tokyo’s oldest Onigiri restaurant. To be honest, as someone who has been known to be late to work because I can’t find a matching pair of shoes, and someone who struggles to find the combination of phone/purse/keys, it is one of the great mysteries of the world as to how I found it. It seemed as though they don’t regularly have people from western culture in, and the sushi I had there was bloody good.

Tomorrow, I’m planning to go to Miraikan and actually get inside this time, then not too sure what I’m doing afterwards. On Thursday, I’m going to end my trip with a visit to the Robot Restaurant and have my mind blown in a ‘did I really just witness that’ way.

Tokyo: Days One and Two

A few things that I’ve missed about England: proper bacon, not having to work on a farm to be there and of course, Nando’s. I found out that the international terminal at the airport has a Nando’s; I’ve walked past a few in Melbourne CBD but not really bothered as I’ve heard that it’s not the same. If I flew into Australia and that was the first thing I’d eat, I’d consider not leaving the airport and getting a flight out of the country, it was that bad.

The flight to Tokyo was just under ten hours long. I was pretty knackered as I hadn’t really slept well for two weeks prior to coming here; some of it self-inflicted, some of it from working two six-day weeks back to back. Despite having a baby sat in front of me, I managed to watch a movie and slept for the rest of the flight.

First impression of the country was spectacular. As my back is buggered I only brought my work bag and am just going to do my laundry two or three times whilst I’m here, all I really need is clothes and toiletries which fit pretty easy into the bag. The customers officer let the five or so people in front of me go pretty easily, but when it was my turn started asking about my luggage and how long I’m here for, then took out a folder with pictures of drugs and bars of gold, asking if I was carrying any of that on me. Of course, I wasn’t, but I wasn’t too sure whether or not to be offended or amused.

I’m staying in a capsule at the moment which is pretty cool, although technically is a dorm bed/glorified drawer. It took ages to get to as the metro here is hard to get to grips with, but after arriving and freshening up I headed towards the Sensoji Temple, first getting some food and having a look at some of the shops. The temple itself is alright, it just seems that the meaning of it has been lost and caters mainly for tourists. I did, however, take a fortune telling where you pay 100 yen to shake a box of sticks and one comes out a small hole, assigning you a drawer to pull a fortune out of. Naturally, a combination of figures assigned me to the drawer that I was supposed to open so I’m hoping that I’m not dyslexic in Japanese.

After, I looked through the market then headed to Shibuya, around half hour away on the metro. By this point I was absolutely knackered, so had a quick look around and decided that it was time for a nap. After, I headed for some food – a ramen shop next door which was bloody good. I don’t know who made the rules here – it’s illegal to smoke walking down the street, but the woman in the restaurant can have a crafty smoke whilst doing her job. After I walked back to the temple then returned to bed.

On the way to Harajuku, I stopped at the Meiji Shrine, it’s nice but just like the Sensoji temple, just seems to have lost its meaning a bit.

After, I went to Harajuku which is like Camden Market on steroids. I didn’t take pictures whilst I was there as it’s pretty much a lot of shops. However, there is this one thing called purikura, where you go into a themed photobooth of your choice with your mates (or not in my case) and you just pose for a picture as some models do on the screen. The Japanese girls were looking at me like wtf – it probably is something that I wouldn’t have done a year ago but I just thought it’d be funny so I did it.

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I went back to Shibuya after to experience it, this time not trying to stay awake. First, I had some ramen at a restaurant where you place your order on a machine, then gave the ticket to a staff member who brought the meal to me. Pretty tasty.

There seems to be this thing with arcade games and there’s heaps of arcades here; it is a bit uncomfortable being in the room with so many people being so into losing their money but I guess whatever makes them happy. I went into one with claw machines and so narrowly didn’t win a prize – it was hanging onto another toy by just its tag.

I went to Ueono, then off to Shinjuku afterwards to see what the fuss is about, and it’s just like any other place in a big city with heaps of lights. I ate in a few restaurants, had some gyoza, fried chicken, and the name of the meat on sticks I can’t remember. I managed to end up in a restaurant in an alleyway that had room for just the bar and some seats with a tiny BBQ.  Here’s some obligatory food pics:

Tomorrow, I’m off early to the fish market and will probably end up having a sushi breakfast, then off to Akihabara, and from there will decide what to do for the rest of the day.