Peaceful, quirky and crazy busy all in the one day!
07.01.2014 - 07.01.2014 8 °C
This morning Zac and I got up early to go to the Burton store in Omotesando while Nick and Marc had a sleep in, but were very disappointed when we got there and found out it wasn't open yet. We thought it would surely be open by 10 so we went and looked through a place called Oriental Bazaar which was full of souvenir items and I stocked up on my presents for back home before we returned to the Burton shop to find it wasn't going to open until 11! It seems that a lot of shops in Tokyo don't open until late because they then stay open until later at night. So we gave up on that idea and went home to get Marc and Nick and go to the Imperial Palace and Gardens. We walked to about 3 different entrances this time until we found one that was open and by that then it was time to meet James at Tokyo station, so Marc and Nick stayed at the gardens to get some cool photos and Zac and I walked up the block to find James. Luckily it was very simple to spot him despite it being such a busy station. Probably has something to do with him being quite and tall and with very blonde hair! While Zac took him back to the hotel I went back to find the others and then we all headed down to Roppongi for lunch.
We decided it would be quicker to walk rather than have to transfer 3 different times on the subway, but on the way I had my first major mind blank with directions and had to stand there for a good 10 minutes flipping the map upside down and sideways and backwards until I realised that the map was wrong! Well that's the story I'm sticking with anyway... Eventually we made it to an area called Roppongi which is a fairly new district and an area full of cool sculptures, art museums and lots of high rises. We had lunch at a really traditional place to introduce James to Japan - it was called Outback Steakhouse and was covered in boomerangs and didgeridoos and played awful Kylie Minogue remixes, but we decided that a steak was exactly what we needed so it did the job.
After lunch I was determined to find a giant spider sculpture which I had seen once in a travel book, so we wandered around the Roppongi area past sculptures of glass thrones, love heart gateways and giant smooth pebbles before finally coming across the gangly legs and disturbingly real stomach of a big black spider. It was just as creepy as the photo I had seen (although dad you would not have been impressed by the welding job on it's legs) so we took some photos underneath before jumping on the subway and heading for a totally different area to the chilled out art district of Roppongi.
Arriving in Shinjuku was just as bustling as Shibuya and the station was so large it took a little while to work out which of the 10 exits we wanted to use and where we would come out so that we were headed in the correct direction of the camera store I thought the boys might want to check out. Once we got our bearings sorted we walked through alleys surrounded by towering buildings, most of which had ads projected onto the side of them, and found a Starbucks so we could all get on the free wifi and check how much we had to spend in the shops. The camera store had a clothes store attached to it so we were all kept busy for a little while on our own levels before meeting up and walking through the busy streets to find the Hanazono Jinja Shrine. It was interesting to hear the big drums coming from inside and see the people praying on the front stairs but we didn't stay too long as it felt like we were intruding on the ceremony or service. As we left there was a crowd of business men at the gates concluding some sort of meeting and we got to witness some interesting culture as they all continuously bowed to one another as they backed away. From what I could see, the younger men bowed much lower to their elders than they did to each other but I'm not sure if that's more because they are higher up in the business or if it's just the respect doe elders that is so evident here in different ways.
We walked back down the street to a subway station just as the sun was starting to set and I explained to the boys how to get back to our hotel so that they could go chill out while I did some shopping in the cool department stores and little shops around Shinjuku and after they left I made my way through the maze of streets, looking in chain stores like Topshop and Forever 21 as well as little Japanese quirky stores like Honey Bee and Don Quixote. By about 5:30 my legs were about to drop off so I headed back to the hotel and found the boys eating their Maccas dinner and sitting on their computers. We took James down to our "local" to celebrate our last night in Tokyo and to show him how cool the huge ball of ice they use in the drinks is (we are so mature) and sat down there for as long as happy hours lasted (that's right, they have happy hourS!) and then Nick went back early to talk to Rahnee, Zac and I went to get snacks and drinks for the card games we had planned and Marc and James went ice skating at the little outside rink that is near the bottom of our hotel.
We finished our night sitting in our pjs on two beds squashed together playing card games while we snacked and decided what the plan would be for tomorrow - our last day in Tokyo. All up it was yet another big day of walking, but I am absolutely loving seeing as much of this city as I can. I think I could live hear for a long time and never tire of how polite people are, never fully understand the coin system and never get used to how freezing cold it is in the morning!
Hope you are all surviving the heat wave back home! Tomorrow night we head for Hakuba and the snow and we have just read that last night they recorded the lowest temperature so far for this season... -15*C!! So looking forward to arriving in that weather at midnight tomorrow!!