Ueno, Tsukiji, Harajuku
18.03.2010 - 21.03.2010
So Tokyo (which I really liked)... We stayed in the Asakusa district of Tokyo (Tokyo is huge!). Asakusa is known as the old traditional part so the route from the tube station to our hostel was lined with stereotypical Japanese pagoda-type buildings and a traditional market of food and souvenirs. I felt a bit bad that it reminded me of a theme park (think Dragon River at Chessington!). Lovely hostel with private room for us 3.
We have been getting around a lot by tube on the underground system which is similar to ours - thankfully the stations have the names in western alphabet underneath the Japanese characters, otherwise we"d have been totally screwed with little hope of working out where to get on or off!
Also thankfully we have been able to leave our backpacks at the hostel as they weigh a ton. Mine is the lightest (so guess who"s ended up with the washing powder and fabric conditioner?! Damn, I shouldn"t have sacrificed that valuable shoe space.) Naomi actually needs someone to lift hers onto her back for her - they are almost as big as us so we have attracted some funny looks and sniggers trying to lumber them around the underground and up flights of stairs without falling over backwards. On the bright side it"s a good thigh and bum work out. If I did overbalance I think I would look like a turtle that had got stranded on it"s back with it"s legs in the air and not much chance of righting itself.
The weather in Tokyo has been dry and pretty cold (like home) but mostly bright.
We spent our first (jetlagged) day in the Ueno district which is the museum area of the city. We visited Tokyo National Museum which was disappointing to say the least but to be fair it was probably more down to us being pretty clueless about what we were supposed to be appreciating. One gallery promised us "treasure" but our expectations were not met by the dull bronze statues and faded strips of paper on display. Not going to fall for that one again. Next we went to Ueno park (no sign of cherry blossom yet) and where Horyuji"s ancient treasure failed to do anything for us we were significantly more impressed by the plasticky-looking yellow and pink swan pedaloes we found on the lake. Obviously we had to get one, and proceeded to swan around rounding up the ducks.
We started our second (jetlagged) day with an early morning tour of Tsukiji Fish Market, which is on all the guides as a must-see, as apparently the biggest fish market in the world. Naomi and Sophie found it interesting and enjoyed the tour but I found it rather gruesome - as someone who turned vegetarian for compassionate reasons and reluctantly went back to eating fish only if I don"t think about it"s face or it swimming around, I didn"t like seeing the trays of blood and half-dead fish struggling to gasp their last and wriggle out from under their dead companions. To me it wasn"t worth getting up at 5am or nearly getting taken out by the motorised fish carts that zoom around the market aiming for tourists.
We went back to the hostel for a power nap (all three feeling pretty rough - me and Sophie really jetlagged from taking two days to get here and missing two nights sleep; and Naomi who brough an unwelcome guest in the form of a stomach parasite picked up in India, which hitched a ride over and despite treatment managed to regroup to inflict more crippling stomach cramps on her.) However we pushed on through and went out in Roppongi (neon nightlife district) but felt rather like Cinderallas as we had to be home before the last train turned into a pumpkin at midnight (couldn"t afford taxi). However we still managed to have fun before that in a "Motown" theme bar, which had a relaxed friendly atmosphere but very expensive drinks (e.g. Corona was 900 Yen: about 7 pounds!!).
Sunday we went to Harajuku / Jingu Bashi park as this is renowned for eccentric characters and fancy dress lovers getting together and hanging about for photo opportunities (what a shame I didn"t bring my Tigger outfit). It"s pot luck who is there when you go and we saw a large group of 50"s style rockers who looked like a cross between a Grease cast and an Elvis convention dancing in the park. There were a few others (see photos when I work out how to put them up), a dog creche (over here they make jeans for dogs and we saw two dogs wearing full outfits!! And oh yes, I managed to capture pohotographic evidence of the one wearing jeans) and Meiji-Jingu shrine. We were lucky enough to arrive to see what looked like a traditional wedding party leaving, with the bride in full Geisha costume, but I didn"t get a photo as it felt inappropriate to take one.
Well if you"re still reading I"m glad you found it interesting. That"s it for Tokyo at the mo but we are coming back at the end of the trip...
xxxxx Miss you already!!! xxxxx