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Japan – Tokyo – The Goddess of Liberty and an Earthquake

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Our second full day in Tokyo was equally as unexpected and crazy as the first. 

As mentioned in my previous post we were staying in Asakusa so our first stop was to the bustling Senso-ji temple which is surrounded by colourful market stalls selling everything from Hello Kitty purses to paintings and chopsticks. This had a more traditional feel to it than other areas of Tokyo and although there are more impressive temples in Japan, I would still recommend paying it a visit to soak up the busy atmosphere. 

Senso-ji temple

Whilst in Tokyo, which I forgot (!) to mention in my previous post, we visited Tsukiji, the famous fish market. To really make the most of it and see the best bits you need to get up at 5am – but we just didn’t have the energy! It was still full of people buying, selling and munching on fresh fish and sushi. Again, prepare to be squeezing past people and definitely don’t eat before as it’s a great place to have a meal. Even if you only have a short stop in Tokyo, if you love fish, this is a must see.

Anyway back to day two. After we had visited the temple we had a stroll (and a sit) in the beautiful Shinjuku-gyoen which is a lovely park full of greenery and a nice place to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city.

Following this much needed rest we decided it was time to get another culture hit so we headed to Ueno which is home to the Tokyo museum – nestled in the middle of another gorgeous park.

It was in this park that I experienced two major events.

The first was eating possibly the largest corn on the cobs I had ever seen in my life (those of you who know me will know how happy this made me – I love corn on the cob) and the second was even better – a dog skateboarding all by itself. Unfortunately I was too busy stood with my gob wide open in disbelief that it zoomed away before I could take a photo! It ran with its front paws on the skateboard and its back legs on the ground then leapt on and skated until it slowed down. It then took its back legs off and started to run again before hopping back on.

corn on the cob

Howard looks very grumpy because I have once again asked him to pose for a photo (he hates photos).

After we had munched our way through several interesting delights at the food stalls (not a fan of squid balls though have to say) we headed to the Tokyo museum. It wasn’t very expensive to go in and Howard was very excited about seeing the Samurai swords! There was also a part dedicated to other countries of the world and it was the first time both of us had come face to face with a real life Mummy from Ancient Egypt.

Tired out from another busy day we headed back to the hotel. A quick change and this time we decided to get the Monorail out to the waterfront. We were both so glad we did this for our last night as it was not only a great way to see the city, but being out by the water and looking out to all the lights of the city was very romantic. What made us laugh was the ‘Goddess of Liberty’ statue with the ‘Tokyo Tower’ (looks like the Eiffel Tower) in the background.

We had an amazing meal at a restaurant called Gonpachi which was based on the fourth floor of Aqua City. We had a typical Japanese set menu which included fresh sashimi and sushi – the perfect way to end our trip.

Tokyo restaurant Tokyo restaurant

Lying in bed that night we were discussing natural disasters – everywhere we went in Japan there was always evacuation maps in public spaces to help guide people in the event of an earthquake, and all hotel rooms had signs on the back of the door with emergency instructions.

Howard made a point of saying that a natural disaster could be quite an exciting experience, to which I immediately told him off for ‘jinxing us’ and that it would be my worst nightmare.

3 hours after falling asleep I was woken up by the feeling of the room shaking pretty hard and a loud rumbling noise filling my ears. Clutching onto him I squeaked ‘OH MY GOD we’re having an earthquake!!!’

My ever calm boyfriend replied ‘I know, it’s fine, go back to sleep.’

Go back to sleep?! My heart felt it was about to come out of my chest it was pounding that hard. Just as I was debating getting under the desk for protection it all went still.

Needless to say I didn’t get much sleep that night, which wasn’t ideal as it took us precisely 23 hours to get back to our flat in Wakefield from the hotel.

However, apparently Tokyo experiences 300 earthquakes a year, so it was hardly surprising we felt one!

Japan was an amazing experience, a country so clean, efficient, friendly and kind – with prices that actually won’t break the bank and breathtaking sights, it would be daft not to go.

 

 

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Japan – Tokyo – Pet Meerkats and Sushi

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Tokyo was our first and final destination in Japan and I loved it for all its craziness and diversity.

I didn’t realise until I got there, but Tokyo is the biggest city in the WORLD. Not only is it full of amazing skyline buildings, fabulous shopping centres and not to mention crowds of people, it also has a lot of tradition and culture too.

We stayed in a great location – Asakusa which was near enough to all the main attractions yet within walking distances to the older area with traditional temples and markets – where you can pick up all your souvenirs like we did.

Our hotel, Tokyo Inn Asakusa Kuramae Kaminarimon, was really good value too – £45 a night it was quite compact, but most hotels in Tokyo are, and had a complimentary breakfast included. What amused me was when we arrived the lady at reception insisted I picked 10 ‘free presents’ which included hair grips, bath bombs and soaps. This was a really nice touch, but I’m not sure 10 was completely necessary for just three nights!

Hotel Tokyo gifts

Tokyo breakfast

Breakfast was certainly interesting but definitely edible…

One of the highlights was our visit to Shibuya where, like a typical tourist (much to Howard’s horror) I followed our guide book’s recommendation and headed to the Starbucks above the busy crossroads that are directly in front of the station. These are the busiest crossroads in the world and it’s great to watch from above and take some snaps.

Shibuya crossroads

Shibuya crossroads

 Shibuya is also home to the famous statue of Hachiko, the faithful dog who continued to wait for his owner at the train station for 10 years after he died.

Statue of Hachiko

Shibuya, is very loud, full of shops blaring out Japanese pop music and large crowds. I would definitely recommend paying a visit though – we had a fabulous sushi lunch just up a side street from the cross roads. It was definitely cheaper than Yo Sushi!

Tokyo sushi

If you’re already in Shibuya it definitely makes sense to head onto Harajuku which the Lonely Planet describes as Tokyo’s ‘catwalk’ and definitely visit Takeshita-dori its ‘neighbourhood’s famous subculture bazaar’ which is full of the most random shops selling everything from little girl style clothing (but for grown-women) and other fancydress-esque items that are actually worn on a day-to-day basis.

It was in this area of Tokyo that I spotted one of my favourite sights of the whole trip – a lady cradling two meerkats in her arms, one wearing a top hat. At first glance I thought it was a ferret but I quickly realised it was in fact the animal I was used to just seeing on the comparethemarket adverts.

Meerkats in Tokyo

pet meerkats 

Japanese meerkats

We did so much in Tokyo I can’t fit it all into one post, so stay tuned for another coming soon! x