Departure and Arrival

It’s now my second day in Tokyo and, after some consideration, I’ve decided that this blog malarky is going to be a lot of effort. Too much, I should say. I have to think of stuff to say, type it out on a flaky keyboard with Japanese characters, edit it and then finally press “Post”, invariably leaving me with a not-quite-satisfied feeling. Therefore the vibe now will be picture-heavy and copy-light. Yes, I heard the cheers at the back.

The flight
Asiana – rock ‘n’ roll. Heard they were 5* and thought I’d get loads of free swag (you can never have too many eye masks or low-quality pairs of socks) however that didn’t happen. What I did get was a menu card outlining the awesome Korean food they’d be serving. Bibimbap, kimchi rice, soba, yum.

The (sort-of) first night
I arrived late at night, so spent the first night in a hotel by the airport. Should have been crap but actually had massive room with three whole beds. Well, nearly – one of them was a single. Unfortunately I was too tired to jump on them.

The First Day
After hauling my tired arse out of bed, I headed to the airport to get a train into town. Buying a ticket and getting on the train was far easier than deciding what to have for breakfast from the myriad of options in the station convenience store.

I met a girl on the train, Aya, who started talking to me after busting me for pulling out my hiragana textbook to translate the “don’t stick your fingers in the closing doors” sign. She was sweet and showed me some kanji and was impressed I knew the symbol for fire. It’s not that impressive, though. As soon as we stepped onto the street proper, we were both presented with a pack of tissues covered in ads – something of a tradition here as most public loos don’t have paper.

I went straight to my ryokan where luckily my room was ready. Not quite as palatial as the previous night, at a mere three tatami mats, but certainly more characterful. I changed into shorts and a vest top. Had I brought flip-flops I’d have put them on too. It’s roasting here.

Walking down the Sumida river to Asakusa, I saw my first of many high-brow cultural treats – a building shaped like a golden poo. Not expecting to top this, I stumbled upon the Matsuchiyama-shoden shrine. Wandering up the stairs, I discovered I was the only one there. The Wikipedia article on this is lacking, but it seems to be to worhip some kind of harvest god, as there were pictures of daikon everywhere, plus real ones you could buy to give to the gods.

God, this copy light thing isn’t really working…

Anyhow, after that I headed onwards and came across a 100 yen store so bought rice and miso for breakfast. Unfortunately the amount I packed is making me restrained with my shopping so I didn’t bother with anything else.

I stumbled across Senso-Ji Shrine almost by accident – initially I saw a load of market stalls which I went to check out, and as I wandered further I realised there was a massive complex of shrines at the end.

The market sold lots of cool stuff like swords and tabi socks and the temple complex was amazing – you’ll have to check out Flickr for some more pics.

On my way home I went into what I thought was a bit of a shabby department store. Oh, how wrong I was. I didn’t look at any clothes but the food floor (as you walked in) was about 5 times better than Selfridges and Harrods combined. Imagine every kind of Japanese food, prepared or not, plus every kind of Western food (pre-prepared Italian pasta dishes, cheese, wines, the most amazing patisserie evar) and you’ve got the idea. Plus, it turns out, they give freebies. Lots of them. Especially if you’re polite and bow.

Anyhow, this has taken hours so I’ll leave you with a photo of my two pound fifty! dinner. I’m sure you can imagine just how delicious it was.

Tomorrow, more exciting adventures. Hoperfully with less blather.

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