Trip Start Sep 05, 2005
Trip End Ongoing

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Wednesday, September 7, 2005

Awoke from a patchy nights sleep at 7am for a long day of sightseeing. Last nights "good time" beers hadn`t had too much of an after effect as there was no hangover in sight. However on the way to the shower I managed to headbutt the roof again!

We boarded the Ginza subway line and took it to the end of the line, Shibuya. Shibuya is a major work/entertainment centre in Tokyo and as a result it is always busy. There is a triangular shaped crossroads outside the station that sees hundreds of people cross every minute. Needless to say I took a couple of pictures. We spotted a StarBucks directly opposite the crossing so thought it would be the perfect opportunity to get a sandwich and a coffee and partake in a spot of people watching.

After breakfast we walked through Shibuya and towards Harajuku. We ended up in Yoyogi park and the Meiji-Jingu Shrine. Spent a good hour admirring the shrine before heading off to neighbouring Shinjuku. One aspect of the shrine that I considered a bit distasteful was the selling if peoples wishes. People can make wishes at the shrine and hang them from the branches on the tree outside. The fact they make money off this was a bit weird but I suppose they have to do something with them, it`s better than throwing them in the bin.

Shinjuku Station is a nightmare the first time you encounter it. There are 60 exits to choose from and Shinjuku cover the area of a small city! West Shinjuku is the business district and we headed there first. There were skyscrapers everywhere and most were pretty impressive. Saw the Park Hyatt that was used in the movie Lost in Translation, would love to have gone in for a drink but it is ridiculously expensive!

Headed next to the Government Metropolitan Building for an aerial view of the city. 45 floors up the building is a observation desk and best of all it is free! Stayed there for a good half hour taking photos from every possible angle. When we headed out in the morning it was a beautiful clear day, however from the top of this building it was clear that it was going to be shortlived. The visibilty was terrible and as a result Mt. Fuji wasn`t visible.

We then headed to East Shinjuku and to Takeshiyama Times Square. I was expecting something similar to Leicester Square in London but it was just a big department store. Seeing as it was raining (heavily) we thought we would check out the food halls on the top 3 floors. All the food was pretty expensive so we headed out to find somewhere cheaper in Kabukicho.

Kabukicho is basically the red light district but it is full of bars, pachinko parlours and food vendors. Found a good looking Irish bar but it was closed so we ended up in McDonalds. Dave commented that it "didn`t have the raw sewage taste like at home", I would have to agree.

Headed back to Ueno with the intention of visting the museum but it was closing in 30 minutes so didn`t see the point. After a quick shower at the hotel we headed back out to Shinjuku to get some dinner and meet up with a guy Dave knew from home.

He was still working so we found a little basement English pub called "The Hub". It was very loud and there were only 2 other English people there. They were showing a World Cup qualifier between Japan and Honduras. The Japanese (mainly the girls) were getting very excited and were gasping and cheering with every touch of the ball. Must have been a good game as it finished 5-4 to Japan.

Had fish and chips with a pint for dinner which came to about 6 quid, 3.50 of that was the beer. After that we headed for the Irish pub from earlier to meet Pat. This pub was even more expensive than the other pub! 4 pound for a pint of lager, 4.50 for a Guiness!

After about half an hour Pat turned up. He is an American who works for American Express and is working in Tokyo for 5 weeks. He was a good laugh and bought a round out of his generous weekly allowance. He is also staying in the Hilton Shinjuku (around 200 pound/night) for free! Which is nice.

At about 11:30 we realised that the trains stopped running just after midnight and we were right on the other side of Tokyo, about 45 minutes and 2 subway lines away! This was panic time and a long walk was well on the cards.

We managed to get the Yamanote line back to Ueno no problems but seeing as it was 12:15 thought we would have to walk the 2 stops back to the hotel. To our relief we saw the Ginza line was still running and got home in a great mood. Celebrated with a couple more "good time" beers again before retiring to bed at 1:30 for an early 6:30 alarm to head to the other end of Japan.
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