Finally I'm getting around to documenting some of my travels - travelling is one of those things that if you do it a lot as part of your job - it loses it's glamour very quickly. You get tired of queues, taxis, airports, packing, converting currency in your head and you really, really miss your bed. Of course you really, really miss your loved ones too! But when your travels overlap a weekend you find yourself either trying just to catch up on sleep from those timezone changes and early/late flights or trying to see some sights and experience some of the local stuff. I generally find myself doing both.
So one weekend in February I found myself in Tokyo. I had never been to Japan before which is quite astounding as in my line of work I frequently travel to Asia and spend a lot of time there. I didn't quite know what to expect - apart from it being cold, and hopefully I would find some great sushi.
First of all, I was a bit amazed at how spread out it was, and there didn't seem to be a 'CBD'. There are several really. Also, the airport is quite a distance from the city - so my transfers were a bit on the pricey side (around $200 each way).
My accommodation in comparison was not, and although my room was tiny - as I would have expected - it was about $150 a night for a double bed, no wifi - only LAN cable.. the room was so small though the LAN cable from the desk could reach my computer whilst I was laying in bed. The only other issue was there only one desk attendant at the hotel who spoke English. When she went off duty I had trouble! The menus at the restaurant were only in Japanese too. Next time: I will stay in a Western chain. It did have a nice view from my room though:
And this is sunrise, pretty right?
So on to the fun bits! What did I see? Well with 2 days and 2 nights and being quite tired I decided I would tackle some shopping and some major sights only. I had booked to go to Mount Fuji on a bullet train, but unfortunately it was snowing too hard so it was called off. Many people catch trains about town, but for me I found it a bit of a challenge, because mainly, I was time poor. So I took taxis. Even that didn't get me to my office on the first day because street names/numbers are not like home:
Taxis are easy to find generally and many cab drivers do speak English which was a lovely surprise. I did however have to rely mostly on the directions to had written in Japanese by the English-speaking desk clerk.
My shopping expeditions took me to:
Ginza is a good mixture of East meets West. Full of high-rises and high-end stores. I went in search of my Coach Bag I didn't buy in Paris in December on sale and regretted. No luck but I did find the GAP sale and then walked throughout the back-streets and found some lovely shops. This is a great way to 'get lost' you can walk around many back-streets and alleyways and find interesting places to take tea, lunch, buy shoes or clothes. There's also large department stores too. You'll never get bored in Ginza.
Otherwise known as 'Fabric Town' the to-go place is called 'Tomato'. FIVE floors of fabric, ranging from $1 a metre to about $40 a metre. The Japanese cotton as you can imagine is plentiful and excellent value. Also lots of craft supplies and patterns too. and if you like to sew - this is your mecca. You can literally spend all day here. And I mean, all.day.
I got my Mum some fabric, about 5 metres of Japanese cotton and linens for about $30. Beautiful stuff too.
I also went to Diver City which is like an outlet mall in Tokyo - if you need a taste of westernisation - that's where you go - it's like stepping into a US Mall in the middle of Tokyo
Please whatever you do, if you are there on a Sunday - head to Takeshita Street! This is famous for the teens that dress up as anime characters and it's just a colourful place to be.
The go-to place in Takeshita Street is probably the huge Daiso. For those who don't know Daiso - it's like a $1 shop but Japanese, and everything is about $1.20! Tourists and locals alike flock there for everything!
I picked up a tonne of washi tape and gorgeous origami papers plus some stickers/lip-gloss/gel pens for my girls.. They have started to open Daiso's here in Australia now, they are $2.40 or something an item there but I still want to check it out..
Something tells me Prince would like to shop here..
And these crepe cones were everywhere. They are pretty delicious though!
This is strawberry cheescake crepe-cone. Frozen cheesecake in hot crepe with icecream, strawberries and cream. About $6.50.
Lastly on the shopping trail Tokyu Hands in Shinjuku
This is 8 floors of Japanese speciality items - divided as below
Personally I found it cute but very expensive.
But I looooved the first floor food department. I wish I'd taken photos but there was great sushi and cakes and just everything! A word of note though - they sell 'ornamental fruit' in Japan, which means perfect size, perfect looking fruit and it's sold at astronomical prices - like a $100 a watermelon for example... be careful when you buy fruit! :)
OK for the sights:
The funniest thing I found about Tokyo was the 'replica sights' The Rainbow Bridge' is exactly like the Golden Gate. You can see in this picture that I took there's an 'Eiffel Tower' too which is actually Tokyo Tower...
And here's Tokyo Tower by day - the main observatory cost about $10 to get up and provides pretty amazing views. The bottom floors there's plenty of places to eat and touristy things to buy. Worth a trip if you are short of time.
Outside the tower they had this performing monkey. It was all in Japanese and a crowd was cheering but it made me feel very sad!
The views from the tower do not disappoint. It's in the centre of the city so there's great views at every angle and it makes you realise how expansive and huge the city is.
Would I like to go back again? Yes definitely! I think I'd like to go back for a week or two with my family - Take in Tokyo Disney Sea, Go see Mount Fuji, take a side trip to Osaka.. so much to do and see!
Have you been to Tokyo or Japan or are you planning to go?
Would love to hear your tips on your must-sees in Tokyo and Japan? Any good tips you can share?
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