Tour de Tokyo
Trip Start Oct 21, 2006
115Trip End Mar 21, 2008
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The Japanese love their conveniences. And what exemplifies convenience more than the vending machine. Too lazy to go into the store to buy a Coke? No worries, there's a vending machine right outside. In fact, Coke is only one of about a thousand things you can buy from a vending machine in Japan. Everything is available, from beer to liquor to cigarettes (no trouble with age limits here) to cans of coffee. Did I just say cans of coffee? Yup, for only 120yen (about $1.20) you can choose from an endless variety of coffees that come tumbling out, hot, in a can. I had to try this, and it is actually quite good. Now I don't even need to go into a coffee shop to get my takeaway coffee.
Tokyo is a massive city, with between 15 and 25 million people, depending on which count you believe. Either way, that's a lot of people and with a lot of people comes congestion. One of the ways the Tokyoers have come up with to counter this is building bridges. Doesn't sound that original but they actually build the bridges along rivers as well as across them. Multi-lane freeways are suspended above existing rivers, thereby creating much-needed traffic access without having to sacrifice any valuable land to get them. The rivers still function below as normal so everyone's a winner.
Nonetheless, we follow the map down a main road, dodging the cookie-cutter businessmen on the sidewalk and pausing for English-script clues as to our location, until we reach the Imperial Palace, home of the Emperor.
By the time we plough our way back up to Asakusa, it is about 5pm. Our knees and arses are killing us from the un-ergonomic bikes, and we are starving so we duck into the first reasonably-priced restaurant we see. We realise, once selected, that it is actually a Chinese restaurant, not Japanese, but we give it a go anyway. Its most recommendable feature is that it has the funniest menu translation ever. Some of the items we pass on include: "Leek Pig's Liver Fried", "Thing of the Sea's Soup" and the tantalisingly cryptic "Bad Makeup With Boil-It". Tempting as these were, I opt conservatively for the "Tofu's Hot Taste" and Jane has the "Chicken's Cashew Natsu".