Sunday, 28 October, 2012 20:18

Tokyo, A Whirlwind First Four Days

Our flight from Australia arrived on time and was uneventful. We were in shock when arriving at the departure lounge as there was a queue of around 120 Japanese teenagers boarding the plane. Our immediate reaction was, this is going to be the flight from hell with noise, screaming and constant disruption. How wrong we were. These teenagers were the best behaved you have ever seen, and literally you would not have known they were on the plane. A credit to them and to their teachers.    The trip from Narita Airport to Tokyo by Narita Express takes about 75 minutes in a spotlessly clean and modern train. Your first impression of Tokyo is that everything works, it is spotlessly clean and the infrastructure is all in immaculate condition.

A Spotless Subway Station

Our First Day ….. Our apartment is located just on the edge of the Ginza, one of the main areas in Tokyo for shopping, entertainment and restaurants and in an ideal location to explore Tokyo.   We are a few minutes walk from 5 subway stations and only a short taxi ride from the main Tokyo Station. The apartment is only 18 months old, very modern with all the comforts of home.  Joyce, the owner, met us at the apartment and provided an excellent overview of all the features and briefed us on the local area and the recommended tourist attractions of Tokyo. Great service and much appreciated. We spent our first day orientating ourselves to the local area where our apartment is located. We did some supermarket shopping, visited the gourmet section of a department store and stocked up on a feast of King Prawns, Sashimi and a few unidentifiable treats that we just had to have.

Matsuya Department Store Gourmet Food Section

Venturing Further Affield ….. Day 2 was a packed day firstly with a visit to the Imperial East Gardens and a viewing of the main entrance to the Imperial Palace which has the most beautiful Nijubashi bridge. We took on the Tokyo Subway system shortly after peak hour with a visit to the Shiniyuku Area which is famous for shopping and entertainment with well over 500,000 people passing through the area each day. We went to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Office Building which houses the tourist bureau and has a viewing platform on the 45th floor for a great view of Tokyo.

Palace Entrance

Bridge at the Entrance to the Imperial Palace

And Then On To Disneyland ….   From Shiniyuku we went home for a short rest and then off to DisneySea which is next to Disneyland.  This is all part of the same complex but DisneySea has a nautical theme and according to the locals is the better theme park.  We spent a great evening there, went on a few rides, had a meal and witnessed the spectacular sound and light show on the harbour in the centre of the complex.  The complex closes at 10:00 PM so we experienced a Japanese rush hour on the trains at 10:30 PM.

Toy Stroy

Toy Story at Disney Sea

Day 3, Spent With A Local …..   Friday we spent with Joyce, the owner of the apartment we are staying in.   She was a wonderful host and took us to Asakusa, about a 15 minute ride subway ride to the North of Tokyo.   We visited the Senso-ji Temple, the Asakusa Shrine and many of the unique tourist areas around the shrine and temple, including a walk down Nakamise Street where all the shops sell different kinds of traditional items, and w visited a very interesting small museum where the traditional crafts of  Japan were displayed.   After a quick lunch of noodles and tempura, we hopped on the futuristic ferry for a trip down the Sumida River into Tokyo Bay finishing up at the Odaiba Marine Park.  This area consists of multiple shopping centres, amusement parks, museums, businesses and apartment buildings and even hosts a man made beach all built on reclaimed land.  It was a great day and getting an insight from our host Joyce was very much appreciated.

Senso-ji Shrine at Asakusa

Senso-ji Shrine at Asakusa


Ferry to Odaiba Marine Park


Cycling Around Tokyo …..   Prior to leaving Australia, we had booked a full day cycling tour of Tokyo which we did on Saturday and what a fantastic day it turned out to be.   A group of 12 people and two guides set off on a ride around Tokyo.   In Japan you are allowed to ride bikes on the footpath as long as you proceed at a reasonable pace and so it turns out to be a very safe method of getting around Tokyo.  We cycled along the Sumida River to Tsukuda-Jima, the old fishermen’s island  then onto the Tsukiji Wholesale Fish Market.   This was a real eye opener.  Every type of sea creature imaginable was for sale at this market and it was a highlight of the tour.   We then proceeded cross Tokyo Bay to the Odaiba Marine park and had a Bento Box lunch and Sashimi fresh from the fish market.   From there we took the water bus across to the mainland to visit the Zojyo-ji Temple and the Tokyo Tower, then on to the Imperial Palace.  It was a great day and all the people on the ride were fun to be with.   Plenty of laughs and two fantastic guides made for a great day.

Tsukiji Wholesale Fish Market

Bento Box Lunch

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