Japan Part 4 : Tokyo

At last I have got round to writing about the last stop on our trip to Japan, but most embarrassingly, its a year ago today since we went!  We left Tokyo until the last city on our adventure, mainly to stop us having a mad dash across the country the day before we left! But it was really the best way to see the country, as it changes as you move up towards Tokyo.

Tokyo is a bustling city that is more like a city made up of cities! Its massive and sprawling with each area different from the next.  So ideal in a way for wandering, we only had 5 days, and there was no way we were seeing everything!

Shinjuku at Night

We arrived into Shinjuku station in the evening, it was manic with lots of bright lights, we just headed straight to our little apartment though, venturing out to get some good food at the Brooklyn Parlour – our only non-Japanese food the whole trip!

We broke Tokyo down into areas and tried to pick one or two to see each day.  We started off on Odaiba, an island in Tokyo Harbour with a building which was said to have influenced the film Bladerunner and a mini Statue of Liberty of all things!  We took the space age ‘Himiko’ Manga boat from here up the river to Asakusa, arriving beside the Philippe Starck designed Asahi Beer HQ (or more fondly known by locals at the Poo Building!).  Of course there was a temple, the Japanese ‘Walk of Fame’, a pastry stop and the Tokyo Sky Tree (though we couldn’t get tickets to go up there)

Himiko Manga BoatAsahi Beer HQ or the 'Poo' Building (Tokyo Sky Tree in the background) - AsakusaSensoji Temple - AsakusaMarket At Sensoji Temple - AsakusaJapanese Walk of FameObligatory Pastry!Tokyo Sky Tree

We walked so far we ended up perusing the Ameyoko Market near Ueno Station and the electronic stores of the loud and brash Akihabara

Ameyoko MarketAmeyoko MarketSega Store - Akihabara

Eager to take in as much as we could in Tokyo, one day seen us get up at before the crack of dawn and head off to the Tsukiji Fish Market, a sober reminder of the worlds fishing trade.  Tokyo was so peaceful at this time (5am!) and after our tour, Stuart enjoyed fresh Sushi at 7am from one of the markets sushi bars.  This is the largest fish market in the world, and it was good to visit it, given that next year its due to move and I think the whole atmosphere and experience will change.

Dawn breaking over the riverTuna waiting to be auctionedInside the MarketDeliveries to the shops at the marketA typical Sushi Bar at the MarketMy Veggie SushiStuart's very fresh Sushi

We decided to wander back to our apartment for a little siesta and ended up in Ginza where we spotted this colourful parade, I got a great front row spot as well!

Parade in GinzaParade in GinzaParade in Ginza

We stayed in Shinjuku, itself mad and bright but quite fun.  We visited Piss Alley, where people where packed into little Yakitori bars, and we devoured bowls of Udon noodles with Tempura the size of my head!

Yakitori - Piss Alley, ShinjukuYakitori - Piss Alley, ShinjukuPiss AlleyUdon Noodles with Mahoosive Tempura

The day we went to Harajuku it rained, and I have never seen so many umbrellas in my life – it was a little bit dangerous to walk at times! We visited an art gallery, ate more Tempura (I’m slightly addicted!) and visited Kiddyland!

The colourful entrance to Takeshita Street, HarajukuUmbrella Hell - HarajukuA Gallery - a bit of culture!!Kiddy Heaven! Even for big kids!

Trudging through the rain we eventually ended up at the Shibuya Crossing – famous for being mental, and in movies such as Lost in Translation and err… Fast and the Furious – Tokyo Drift….. anyway, its mad at the best of times, but even more so in the rain… remember the umbrellas earlier –well multiply that by about 100….

Shibuya Crossing - scary stuff!

Thankfully the rain disappeared and we went back to sunshine! We headed to Meiji-Jingu Shrine for a wander, its surrounded by a beautiful park, we saw racoons, beautiful Iris gardens,  a bonsai display as well as two Japanese weddings which were so pretty and colourful.

Meiji-Jingu Shinto ShrineRice Wine BarrelsRacoons!Iris GardenOne of many beautiful bonsaiA Japanese Wedding Party

We did venture back to Harajuku though, simply to get some Ramen and pick up a crepe from a vending machine – yes a vending machine and it was freshly made and delicious!!

Crepe Vending Machine!!Strawberries, Custard and Cream Vending Machine Crepe Stuart's Everything Ramen (that is a whole boiled egg in there)

We finished our holiday off in style (excuse being it was my birthday a few days after we got back!) by enjoying some ‘Suntory Time’, at the New York Bar in the Park Hyatt Hotel, also enjoyed by Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson in Lost in Translation.  We had fab cocktails, some food and listened to some great Jazz, all while looking out over Tokyo at night. A Perfect end to an amazing holiday!

New York Bar, Park HyattSuntory Time! (With a cocktail not Whisky)Jazz Band