Category: Tokyo


So I figured I would hit on some other points about Tokyo while we wait in the JAL Sakura Lounge at Narita Airport. We get access to all of the lounges while on our trip as a courtesy to our business class tickets, nice touch. The service so far at these lounges puts American Airlines lounge to shame. Everything is free, you are waited on hand and foot, and they are huge. I come back to service because Japan seems to be all about service. Everyone is dressed up, from businessmen to cab drivers, and everything is white glove service. Every inch of the country is paid attention to in detail, and they take care of it all day, everyday.

This is also the cleanest city we’ve ever been in, as there is no garbage anywhere. That includes garbage cans. Where the heck do people put their garbage?? It took us quite a long time to find somewhere to throw anything away, but we’ve come to the conclusion that garbage just doesn’t exist here, at least in public areas. American cities could learn some lessons from Tokyo on how a city should function, from the subway system, to the hotel service and so on. I also love all the the compact cars and motorcycles in the city. Every service you can think of has a delivery service on a scooter. I even saw a scooter that delivered books. Feel like a good read? Go online, order some books, and you’ll have them that day delivered to your door…..that’s if they can ever find your address!!!

I know that Beijing will be completely different in all areas, but I don’t expect any of these cities to be very similar. We got rid of all of our YEN this morning in time to fill our pockets with YUAN, and I know China will be much cheaper than Japan. I was in China a little over 3 years ago, so I’m looking forward to going back and touring another city (saw Shanghai back in 2005).

Sayonara!

Today we hit the Tsukiji Fish Market, which is the largest in the world, and is host to over 1,000 different varieties of seafood, it’s incredible. It’s open to the public, but you are sharing room with close to 50,000 employees. There must be injuries there everyday due to cars, scooters, bikes, etc. moving at all times and not stopping. For the amount of fish and people in this place, it’s extremely clean and orderly. Of course we wanted to get some fresh sushi, so we were on the hunt. We tried some local stuff, and have no clue what we ate, but it was delicious. The market is surrounded by tiny little restaurants that are all serving the daily catch, so we figured we should hop inside one and have at it.

Worker descaling a fish....in a hip leather jacket? Of course, its Tokyo

Worker descaling a fish....in a hip leather jacket? Of course, it's Tokyo

We finally found a sushi joint that had Tokyo written all over it….conveyor belt restaurant! This idea is genius, and I’m amazed that there are not more of these, if any, in the USA. About 50 different kinds of sushi go around on a belt, you pick the plate off of the belt, and eat away. You stack up your plate, which are color coded for price, and micro-chipped for security, and you are charged from there. They also have hot water lines feeding to each seat so you can have fresh tea while you eat. No need for workers, other than the two guys who continually make more sushi while you eat. It was great, and we had the freshest tuna we’ve ever had, naturally. This part of the trip was definitely a highlight for Annemarie, who wanted sushi ever since we landed in Tokyo, and it lived up to its name.

After that, we made it to some other parts of the city to see what they were about. We hit up Ginza, just to say we saw it, and it was like a replica of 5th Avenue, with stores like Chanel, Armani, Gucci, etc. They even had a Vertu store, which I didn’t even know existed (costliest cell phone in the world). From there, we headed over to Shibuya which is where the famous “intersection” is from in many Japanese movies. It’s an 8 way intersection that completely comes to a stop, and a few thousand people cross the street in all directions over a 60 second period. At nighttime, I can imagine it only looks more impressive and confusing at the same time. We then got lost for a while, but that’s been a daily occurrence here in Tokyo where the address on buildings just rarely exists or makes sense. But we made it back to the map, and found our way back to our neck of the woods.

We are crashing now, as we have to head to the airport at 7am (90 minute trek to Narita airport) to catch our flight to Beijing tomorrow. You might not see another post until March 16th as I’ve already been told that my blog has been blocked in Beijing, but not sure if that includes private access, we’ll find out tomorrow. I leave you with a photo of something that you will find very tasty, enjoy!

Dried Tadpoles, hungry?

Dried Tadpoles, hungry?

Tokyo Day 2…one word: Buddha

1 train, 2 trains, 3 trains, HAI!!! Yes, it took three different trains to get to the great Buddha today in Hase, but it was worth it. We headed up this morning, and it took about 90 minutes to get there. Hase is on a much smaller scale compared to Tokyo, but has it’s own charm, but at the same time if the Great Buddha didn’t exist, I don’t think the name of this town would either in anyone’s memory. Anyway, I guess this is the most popular monument when it comes to Japan, so we figure we better get to it.

It is quite big, and at one time was housed in a shrine that was somehow destroyed and washed away by a title wave about 500 years ago. Pretty impressive that it still stands, I think. Anyway, we finally figured out the self-timer on the camera, so we took some proof that were were there:

The Mulkeens visit the Great Buddha

The Mulkeens visit the Great Buddha

So we took off from there, and headed to Shinjiku on the quest to find “Piss Alley” for some good old fashioned Yakatori. Did we find it? Hell No!! Have we found one restaurant that we’ve wanted, well, NO! The address system once again beat us fair and square and we are now 0/3 on finding restaurants, but we will try again tomorrow. Since we failed again, we decided we might as well see the best view of Tokyo (at least the best view that is free) at the top of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building from their observation deck. The skyline in one word: HUGE! The city goes on forever in 3 directions, bordered by water on the 4th. Then again, the city has to be this big. There are so many people they need somehwere to house everyone. We have also noticed after taking so many trains and walking around, that everyone in this city is dressed to the 9’s and have all the latest and greatest accessories, including dangling junk for their cell phones. It’s nuts.

Tomorrow we will hit the Tsukiji Fish Market to watch some auctions, buy and eat some weird stuff, and have the freshest sushi in the world. It should be an experience in itself. Ok, well I might go get another Lemon drink from the vending machine outside…there is one vending machine for every 15 people in Tokyo, it’s insane, they are everywhere, but very convenient. I leave you with this picture below to decide which statue is more serious. Cheers!

Who is more still?

We destroyed Tokyo today…

We bought Fodor’s book on Tokyo and figured we’d do the 3 day tour they recommended so we could cover a lot of bases. Well, as my friend Tom would appreciate, crushed that 3 day tour in 1 day!! I’m not sure who that tour was made for, but we are thinking along the lines of Chris Farley or the likes of Jared before his Subway reincarnation. We hit a small shrine, the Imperial Palace, the Sensoji Temple (oldest temple in Tokyo), Asakusa Shrine, and the Thundergod Gate.

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We then hopped on the subway, which is by far the best subway system I’ve been on thus far, and I’ve been on NYC, Chicago, and London. Tokyo’s system is uber efficient, fast, quiet, clean and laid out quite well. We bought all day passes for $7/each, and probably rode it at least 10 different times today and hopped on 4 or 5 different lines. Tokyo Tower was our next stop on the tour, and as soon as we saw it from the distance, we decided not to go in. It’s a terrible replica of the Eiffel Tower, and is loaded up with small stores at the bottom so locals actually have a reason to visit. Otherwise, it just looks like an ugly structure trying to set the world record for most satellite dishes!

Gate House at the Imperial Palace

Gate House at the Imperial Palace

We ended our day in Roppongi, which is a very popular area in the city for ex-pats. We probably spent an hour walking around looking for a particular restaurant so I could have some yakatori, but to no avail. The one problem that we have found with Tokyo is that nothing is addressed, and even the police department have a hard time finding buildings, including the restaurant we couldn’t find, and gave up on after a bit longer. We hit another local joint just because we were tired and hungry, got some bananas from the grocery store (leg cramps will set in later) and headed back to the hotel.

See ya Tomorrow!

And we are lost in translation…

Well, we made it to Tokyo, and we’re exhausted. There were close to 60 business class seats on the plane from Vancouver, and only about 12 were full, so we pretty much had our own flight attendant for the whole 9 hours, it was awesome. Watched a few movies, including Changeling, which we both recommend after watching it. My only complaint of the day is that Narita airport is about 90 minutes from Tokyo, and it’s a pretty dull drive, unless you count passing Tokyo Disney exciting.

We’re heading to bed so we can crush part of the city tomorrow, but we did get out to a local hole in the wall and had some noodles and soup. We’d also like to thank 7-Eleven as the only ATM we could find in a short distance that would work so we could eat. Tomorrow we’ll look for Bill Murray and laugh at people in karaoke bars. If you didn’t get the sarcasm there, I loathe karaoke.

Arigato and good night.