Trip Start Jan 19, 2006
Trip End Jan 19, 2007

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Flag of Japan  ,
Thursday, March 30, 2006

Get an early flight from Bangkok to HK (where we read all the Tokyo guidebooks and made some notes in the bookshop!) and then Tokyo with Cathay Pacific which was pretty good. Arrive in Tokyo Narita airport at about 20.00 and hope that the accommodation desk is still open! Fortunately it was and the v helpful guy there found us a hotel in Ikebukuro (NW of city main transport interchange) at Sunshine Prince which was about 50 quid a night for a 'semi-double' room with bathroom. By the time we got money from the ATM, collect the free leaflets at the airport and decipher the complicated train/metro system to get there we eventually arrived at our hotel at about 23.00.

On check-in the receptionist told us there was no 'semi-double' room available so we had to have a double room (damn shame - whatever a semi-double room is we will never know). Our room was fantastic - 27th floor - amazing view of the Tokyo sky-line proper double bed with tv, kettle, business facilities and a bathroom including a semi-bath. I know its sad but I was over the moon having not seen such luxury in a while (apart from Den's room of course). The toilet was also very technical with heating facility and a load of buttons I don't think we really wanted to know about!! (see photo).

Had a great night's sleep and a proper lie-in (past 9.00) and dragged ourselves out of our room having had a cup-a-soup breakfast (still using the remnants of food left from the UK to try and save money here). Over the course of the next 3 days in Tokyo we visited:
Shinjuku - major high rise buildings and lots of shops and restaurants
Shibuya - " ". Dinner at a Yakotori (meat skewers) restaurant
Imperial Palace Gardens - does what it says on the tin
Odaiba - private train over the Rainbow Bridge to a futuristic island where we went to the Fuji TV building and saw them filming a Japanese game show (not one of the torturous ones though sadly), shopping malls, Goddess of Liberty and went to see 'Brokeback Mountain' (in English) with our Khao San Road 'genuwine' ISIC passes - great film if you haven't seen it yet. Saw the Tokyo sky-line at night which was also beautiful.
Ueno - cherry blossoms in the park (hundreds of people seeing this national festival at end of March) and some shrines in the park
Asakusa - old market and shrine with other symbolic things we didn't really understand. We also went to a real sushi restaurant here with the revolving conveyor belt overladen with raw fish - just what an unsettled stomach needs! Had a great lunch for less than a fiver for both of us (inc caviar)
Akihabara - electric town (electronics district - yes it would have been impossible for Dave not to go there). Although, because we are on this trip, he had to restrain himself so only bought 1 lens.
Sunshine 60 Observatory - made a mad dash to get sunset from this sky-scraper and just about made it and saw Mount Fuji in the distance (my only regret that we didn't do this - through my stupidity rather than anything else) and then watching the city light-up around us. Dave got some great practice on his new lens! Then dinner nearby in a Japanese restaurant full of business people which was great fun, particularly with all the waiters shouting at the top of their voices (as they seem to do everywhere here).
Tokyo Earthquake simulator - read about this at the Fire Department so we went to see what it was like to experience a force 7 earthquake and what safety procedures you should follow and then watch us being videoed back. Was quite interesting but not what we were expecting (was public information not Hollywood!). We followed this with lunch in the 58th floor of the Sunshine 60 building where there was a buffet for 10 quid each inc food and drink (not alcoholic) with the daytime views of Tokyo. Food was nice but we filled up very quickly and it didn't do our stomach's wonders either so it felt a bit like we were back to square 1.

Got train to airport where we met a really nice Japanese man who spoke to us all the way about all sorts - sport, culture, our opinions on Japan. The people here have been incredibly polite (in the most part)and a few people have offered to help us find our way when we have looked lost.

On the whole we really enjoyed Tokyo. It was not as expensive as we anticipated
- none of the food was expensive (or anything else for that matter - apart from Dave's lens). It just made us realise how expensive London must be for tourists. We also were surprised that it wasn't as high-rise as we thought like New York - quite a lot of areas had low-rise buildings or housing.

Got to the airport to check-in and had another minor panic as we didn't have visas sorted out for Oz and our flight left in about 2 hours. Fortunately we just needed to register online for an ETA which is done straight away so they checked us in and we got the ETAS and all was sorted - luckily. Flight was direct to Perth with Qantas - most exciting thing was entertainment system where there were about 50 films and tv programmes on demand to stop and start as you wish! We went for some high-brow English entertainment with 'Wallace and Gromitt = the curse of the were-rabbit'.
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