I think I'm turning Japanese

Trip Start Apr 01, 2003
Trip End Apr 14, 2003

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Sunday, February 2, 2003

After landing at Narita Airport I was a little nervous about the Language barrier. I had taken Japanese at high school for a year but that was ages ago and I was rubbish at school (anyway you can probably tell by the bad grammar and spelling mistakes in my logs). I jumped off the plane at airport and headed to the train station to catch the train. It took me a while to get my bearings but luckily I managed to catch the right train into Tokyo before changing to the Right Metro Line and then getting horribly lost trying to find the Hostel. After an hour wandering around in circles I finally got to my accommodation that turned out to be excellent. I stayed in a Ryokan, which is a traditional wooded styled house that included mat-floored rooms, futon bedding and sliding paper doors. The Ryokan was really cosy, especially with the under floor heating keeping the place warm.

About 5 minutes walk from the Ryokan is the area Asakusa, with its famous 7th century shrine Senso-Ji. You enter through the Kaminari-mon (thunder gate) and into a double row of shopping markets on Nakamise-dori. The shrine holds a golden statue of the goddess Kannon. It is pretty tranquil here, as it is not too built up an area.

The next area of Tokyo that I explored was Ueno, which is one of Tokyo's first parks. I visited the Zoo here and spent about 3 hours wandering around the decent animal enclosures. While I was here there were thousands of people sitting on the side of the main walkways with picnic blankets out, food, beer and rice wine all celebrating the cherry blossom session. The lanterns were turned on at dusk, which made for a beautiful sight with the Red lanterns glowing underneath the Cherry Blossoms. I took loads of photos this night. Across the road from the park is the Ameyoko Arcade, which is a huge market area that gets really hectic during the day and absolutely chaotic after work.

I went out to the Shinjuku suburb of Tokyo that is famous for the wall to wall neon lights that adorn the building creating a spectacular nightscape. I took my tripod out so that I could catch the lights vividly but I didn't need to bother as there was so much light radiating out. The area was the really hustle and bustle image that you get of Tokyo.

There were great views of the impressive, white Imperial Palace sitting atop of the Higashi Gyoen or Imperial East Garden. The Park itself was massive and there were plenty of people catching a few Z's on their lunch breaks. The Imperial Palace, a reconstruction after the original was destroyed during WWII is the home to Japan's emperor and the imperial family.

I took time out also to visit the Sony building, which is home to all of Sony's latest gadgets and some that haven't been released. Mainly I made use of the Internet and goofed around with the robotic dogs.

I went across Rainbow bridge on the Yuriamome metro line to the Odaiba or Tokyo Bay area. The first thing I came across was replica of the Statue of Liberty. After that I walked along to the Fuji Television Japan Broadcast Centre a massive structure with a giant metal observatory ball on top. After hanging around at a shopping complex. I also visited the Toyota showrooms, which as you probably guessed shows off all things Toyota. This place was pretty High-Tec, with all there newest models. You could also test drive a lot of different cars down a purpose built track.

As I have already been to the Paris and L.A. versions it would have been rude not to visit the near perfect replica of L.A., Tokyo Disneyland. I ventured out on the Tozai subway line from central Tokyo and was quickly out to the main gates buying my all inclusive day pass. It was mid-week and there were next to no kids about, which meant that the usual long queue for all the good rides was non-existent. That in-turn meant I had about 10 rides on Space Mountain the indoor rollercoaster. I also enjoyed the Tea Cups. The Disney parade also made an appearance before I left.
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mary p on

You covered a lot of ground in 2 weeks.
I am returning to japan for cherry blossom time, I can't wait to taste some yakisoba again!
I plan to go to Fujiyoshiba, and stay at a rhyokhan, do the onsen thing and general exploring.
I also think I'm Japanese!

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