We've made it to Tokyo! After all this time, we're finally on our way!
07.12.2005 12 °C
Wandering off the plane, into Narita airport, I finally realised I was doing something I've wanted to do for a very long time! And what better way to start it, than in a country I've always wanted to visit?
The flight was great, and we arrived bang on time at Narita airport in Tokyo. We breezed through the airport, with the only cause for concern being that we were given the wrong imigration forms, and Dan's bag being slightly dirty.
The metro presented us with our first challenge in the form of seemingly 1960's inspired ticket machines. With the help of a nearby attendant, we quickly realised that the ticket prices to the various stations were marked on the map. Narita itself is about 60km outside of central Tokyo, so it took about an hour rolling through some of the most densely built up towns I've ever seen - until we rolled into Tokyo itself!
Rolling through a seemingly impossible route, travelling at about the level of the 3rd floor, with roadways and buildings above that. It's amazing! How can they get this much into such a small place. There's nothing I can liken it to, other than to say WOW!
Arriving at our stop, Asakusa - I'll skip the bit where we realised the ticket wasn't quite right, and the guard who helped us out - we hit street level. The shops and restaurants are awesome, and I knew instantly this place was going to be great! The hostel was about a 15 minute walk away, across the river, and through the immense grid iron latice work of the town - and our area wasn't even as densly built up as the other parts of town.
After dropping our bags off at the hostel, we headed off into the Asakusa and Ueno area to sample our first Japanese food on home ground - I knew I was going to enjoy this! The number of restaurants here is staggering, as is the range of prices. After wandering round for a while - taking in the senso-ji temple, and making a wish - we settled down in a small restaurant on one of the side streets. I will confess that I was slightly boring at this point, and opted to sample my favourite Japanese dish from home, the humble Ramen. It lived upto my expectations, and my taste buds lit up. I only hoped that the rest of Japan was like this!
Next, we decided the best way to fight hte Jet Lag that was threatening was to wander off through the streets to Ueno to see the temples and park there. The strangest thing we noticed on the streets was the number of vending machines. That sounds like an odd comment, but literaly, there's at least one every few hundred metres seeling anything from coffee to beer. It's just plain odd, and we hardly saw anyone using them!
Arriving at Ueno station, we joked that we hadn't seen any western food places, and then, as if someone was listening, appeared Starbucks! Of all the things to come across. Naturally, we dived in as a cup of coffee would help to fight off the fatigue. I managed to order the one thing they struggled to understand... and extra shot. Don't do it! Ask for a double. Dan by this point was looking annoyed with me, and I good see the caffeine deprivation causing him to shake.
Heading into the park, we were hit by how tranquile the place is. Here we were, walking in a park in the centre of one of the busiest cities in the world, and we felt like there was nothing for miles! The temples and Pagoda's here are beautiful, and truly the photos (that will follow) do not do them justice!
Feeling the caffeine wearing off, and the jet lag taking control, we decided to wander back to the hostel, looking for a bar on the way. Later, we discovered that we were staying in the most bar starved part of Tokyo! And seemingly the only bar the guide book felt was worth mentioning, was in the area we'd just come from!
We eventually crashed at 6, which was far too early on reflection, and the reason for this post being so long. I woke at 3, and eventually got up at 6. But, it was a fantastic start to the trip!
Tokyo subway map