Tokyo Travels

After nearly three months in Japan, I finally got to go to Tokyo this past week and it surpassed every expectation that I had of it!

On Wednesday I had a staff meeting over in Sendai and so with the group I was going with, we decided that we would get the night-bus down to Tokyo from there and arrive Thursday morning, before heading straight to Disney. This sounds like a fun idea but makes for an incredibly exhausting couple of days.

The night-bus left Sendai at around 11:30pm and arrived in Tokyo at 5am. Having barely slept I was feeling pretty out of it but then the adrenalin kicked in as we made our way to Disney.

The Tokyo subway system is like something out of a nightmare. I’ve ridden trains all over the world and never seen a system like this one. Add to that our tiredness and it made for some confusing moments, as we tried to figure out how to get to Disney. Eventually we worked it out though and we set off from Tokyo station.

After a couple of train transfers and a Disney monorail, (which you have to pay for here!) we made it to the Disney Sea park. This was our first choice because it was the one that was different to other Disney parks worldwide and was also the most popular. We wanted to avoid lines there and the next day was the start of a national holiday.

They say that the British like to queue and that is a true statement, however we don’t hold a candle to the Japanese. The line just to get the tickets took us over an hour, but eventually we made it into the park.

Because the lines were so long already we decided it best to start getting fast passes for rides. There was a two-hour wait between each fast pass but that was fine. The rides were a lot of fun, especially the Indiana Jones and Journey To The Centre of the Earth ones. One of the funniest moments of the day was hearing Indiana Jones speak in Japanese while on the ride. Being exhausted made it all the more hilarious. I’m pretty sure I was crying with laughter when it came time for the photo.

In the middle of the day it began to rain heavily, though that only made things easier because a lot of people seemed to disappear from the park and so getting on rides in the evening was very quick. Overall though it was a decent theme park but definitely needs more rides.

The next day we went to Disneyland. This was more exciting for me as I knew what rides were there. It’s also one of my favourite theme parks in the world. The weather on this day was much nicer and there was no wait time to get in due to us already having bought the tickets the previous day.

Upon entering the park, I immediately suggested getting fast pass tickets to “Space Mountain” as it’s my favourite ride ever. Luckily, we were able to do so and the time slot we were given wasn’t too late into the day.

The parade that we got to see was fantastic! It featured all of the main Disney characters, starting with the best one, Goofy! You can see just how much I like Goofy below.

The rest of the day was also great. Again, there was another hilarious moment as we saw a show featuring Stitch speaking in Japanese. It really messes with your head, especially with that voice! The rides were definitely busier this day. I even saw a 200-minute wait for a Buzz Lightyear ride! Obviously we didn’t get to do that one. Still, we got to go on most rides, as there were less fast pass ones taken up by everyone.

Overall my two days at the Disney parks in Japan were a lot of fun. They aren’t quite at the level of California or Florida but they easily beat the Paris park. Only Hong Kong left for me to see now, though who knows when that will be!

The next day was devoted to exploring the actual city of Tokyo. This was my first trip there and I was so excited. It’s somewhere that I have wanted to go for a very long time and to finally see it made me so happy. It’s one of the main reasons I wanted to come out here to work.

We started in Shinjuku, dropping our bags off at the capsule hotel where we would be sleeping that night, before heading out to explore. Our first stop was in Akihabara. It’s an area famous for its electronics and games, as well as its maid cafes. They were everywhere, handing out fliers to come inside. We avoided these however and instead went shopping.  There was a market happening nearby the station that had a bunch of collectables that were really cool, but I didn’t end up buying anything, thought this had a lot to do with me having never heard of most things that were being sold!

After that, we found a games store that was amazing! It had every vintage game that you could think of across 3 floors. I was looking for a copy of Goldeneye on the N64, however it seems to be very rare here, as they wanted around £70 for it! I’ll be sticking to Mario Kart in the near future.

Then we back to Shinjuku and met up with some other people to get dinner. We went to an Izakaya, which is a Japanese style bar/pub where you have food and drinks. I’m still not entirely sure what I ate but I seem to remember giblets and fermented mushrooms being mentioned. Either way, what I ate was great so I don’t actually care. I’m here to try new things anyway!

We then decided to get purikura taken. These are hilarious photobooths that you take funny pictures in and after which you add makeup and drawings. We took those and then headed to karaoke because that’s just what seems to happen here no matter what the occasion! Unfortunately some people had to leave after an hour so we only got to go for a short time. Still, it was very fun and I managed to get in “Gangsta’s Paradise”, though bizarrely they just threw the words up there instead of having something to make you follow along. It made it very hard and proved that I may not have as much rhythm as I’d previously thought.

We ended the night by going to the Capcom Bar. It’s a restaurant where the meals and drinks are based off of Capcom games and was really cool. I definitely recommend checking it out if you are a fan of any of those games. The waiters even scream lines from the games as they serve you your meal. I don’t remember the game that my meal was based on but it came with a scary looking chicken foot that was surprisingly tasty!

My night in the capsule hotel went surprisingly well. I got inside it and was shocked by the amount of space and comfort. I turned on the television and was blinded by the image of censored Japanese porn in my face but other than that I had a decent night in there and actually slept better than in the normal hotel.

The next morning we went to Shibuya. This was what I had been waiting for. Ever since seeing Lost in Translation aged 14, I made it a goal in my head to visit the crossing. It’s one of the busiest streets in the world and has a bunch of different crossings happening at once, leading to craziness as the lights go red. It was one of my highlights of the trip and also my time here in Japan.

We spent the rest of the morning doing some shopping in the area. It has a ton of western shops there too and so I almost felt at home. It was very reminiscent to London or New York.

In the afternoon we met up with one of my friends from my training group and set off for Harajuku. This is an area famous for its fashion. Many people go here specifically on a Sunday to parade around in fashion the likes of which you would not believe. I’ve never seen anything like it in my life. A highlight was a 6ft Japanese man dressed in an Alice in Wonderland style costume with full makeup. The street was also the busiest street I’ve ever been to. I literally couldn’t move down it!

We stopped for a rest inside a food court and were treated to a random performance from a new Japanese idol girl group. It was… yeah let’s not go there. I’ll just say it’s not for me.

In the evening we collected our bags and then headed to Tokyo Tower to end the trip. I wasn’t too sure what to expect from it. I’ll admit that I didn’t know much about it but as soon as we got there I was blown away! It’s an incredible structure and looks absolutely amazing lit up at night.

We got an elevator to the middle of the tower and were taken aback by just how amazing the view of Tokyo was from there. At night the entire city looks beautiful. The entire city of Tokyo was illuminated by the lights from the buildings and is a visual that will stick with me forever. It was the perfect way to end the trip.

Finally, we went to the bus terminal and headed back to Yamagata. I already have plans in my head to go back as soon as I get enough time off. There was so much left to see that I didn’t even come close to. What I did see though was magnificent. It’s become one of my favourite cities in the world, right up there alongside London and New York. Let’s hope I can eventually see it all!

 

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