And so it begins!!! Was up until 3.45am the night before I left trying to find somewhere to stay… Methinks I should possibly have arranged something sooner given that it’s high season right now!! Still, I booked into the Listel Shinjuku for my first night, which turned out to be really nice, and cheaper than the shittier hotels I’m going to have from now on, doh! I actually have to change hotels twice in 3 days, but whatever, they’re all within around 400m of one another.
Sunday was such a long day. Got up at 9 after 5 hours sleep, boarded a subway, got on a plane, sat next to 2 Aussie girls (one of whom was quite cute) and offended them by saying why was I the one who had to start conversation when I was sat next to 2 Aussie girls, watched ‘V for Vendetta’ (which was RUBBISH), slept 30mins in total (only because I took advantage of the free bar and necked 2 beers, a red wine and a Johnny Walker), saw some cool landscapes over Norway, worried about the landing as the cloud extended down to about 30m above ground and had an altimeter displayed on my screen in the back of the seat in front, attempted to decipher a Japanese landing card, got out the other side, saw a Starbucks first thing after exiting the arrivals hall, nearly left 2 bags in the rail pass exchange office, got on another train (at almost exactly the same time as I got on the first subway train, weird), drove through fields that looked exactly like ‘My Neighbour Totoro’ (link to follow), drove through lots of 70s looking skyscrapers, arrived in Shinjuku (Westerly district of central Tokyo, where lots of craziness goes on and also where Bill Murray’s AWESOME hotel in ‘Lost in Translation’ – the Park Hyatt Tokyo – is located), walked around aimlessly in the rain for quite a while cuz I forgot my hotel address, dumped my stuff and headed out again.
A couple of things struck me on arrival. One was that the weather was better in ENGLAND than here. I was totally shocked that the weather in England could possibly be better than anywhere else in the world. Two was that it is oppressively humid here, way more than at home. Basically my first impression of Japan was that it’s like a more tropical, humid, exotic version of England. And it’s full of Japanese people. And there’s neon everywhere. And the public transport works. And there’s no chavs. And, ok I’ll stop there.
First task was to find some lunch, which was taken in a quaint ramen shop (ramen is noodles in soup with veggies and meat). Apparently it was some special type of noodle that comes from a different prefecture, but it tasted pretty standard to me! It was also way better than the couple of places I’ve been to in London, darn. After lunch I had to pop back to the hotel to check in, then headed over to Odaiba to visit a big indoor entertainment complex cum shopping mall called ‘Decks’, which occupies a pretty large area and has a massive bridge connecting two areas, the other of which houses a Toyota centre resplendent with indoor track, suspended in mid-air, with full size electric cars driving round it(!) and another mall with very alfresco architecture and, in fact, a fake alfresco sky painted on the entirety of the inside of the roof.
Later on headed over for dinner in Tsukishima and ate a speciality of that particular street called monja, and okonomiyaki (a fat pancake like thing with egg, cabbage and seafood), self cooked on a teppanyaki style hotplate. It was pretty cool but by this stage I was literally in a state of waking sleep! I did have a coffee in the mall before leaving, but the effects were only temporary plus I was sufficiently dehydrated from travelling that the caffeine made me feel kind of nauseous (just before going on a race-car simulator!), but it was fine after eating.
I succeeded in turning in the wrong direction out of the station on the way back to my hotel, as everything looked completely different in the dark because of the ridiculous concentration of neon signs! Still I realised pretty quickly and, after about 4 about-faces, managed to find my way. I don’t think I’ve slept as well as I did then for a looooong time! Literally put my head on the pillow, opened my eyes again and 9 hours had passed… Sweet :) there was a pretty awesome view out the window at night time too with the ‘Skyscraper district’ in the background, but unfortunately it was too foggy for the picture to come out well. Still, I tried and will post the result up soon!