For all this talk about Tokyo being really expensive, we haven't noticed it yet. We've been eating huge meals for around 500yen ($5 Canadian), a vending machine can of coffee (I still can't get over that!) costs 120yen ($1.20), and the subway is well-priced too (160-230yen per trip). I guess you can find more expensive stuff but there are lots of cheap things for the budget traveller.
One Japanese phenomenon we had to try out is the capsule hotel. If you haven't heard of these, they are the little 'rooms' just large enough for one person to lie down in, designed for drunken businessmen who have missed the last train home. We are fortunate in that one of the only capsule hotels in the country (and therefore the world) that allows women is located just across the river from our hostel, so we book in for one night.
The guy at reception speaks no English (foreigners are rare at such places) so there are a lot of hand gestures and trail & error. The first thing you get upon checking in is a key to a tiny locker, into which you place your shoes and take out a pair of uncomfortable green slippers. Then you give back that key and exchange it for another key, to a larger locker, where you find your towel, pyjamas, razor and toothbrush. You then take the elevator to your floor - women and men are on separate floors - and locate your capsule. They are lined up like in a morgue, with one of top of another, twenty along one wall and twenty along the other. Inside your capsule is a TV, an alarm clock, a mattress, duvet and pillow - everything you need. Jane and I put on our lime green, hospital-style pyjamas then meet at the reception to laugh at each other, then separate again for a good night's sleep.
The Imperial Palace repelled our advances yesterday by being closed, so we try again today, getting there by subway to rest our bruised tailbones. It is fairly nice in spots but not quite as spectacular as I'd hoped. In fact, you can't actually see the palace itself except on carefully organised guided tours, so we have to settle for the surrounding gardens. At least the admission was free.