Well it’s Christmas Day here in Japan, and in UK (albeit the wee hours of the morning. Here that generally means its just another Sunday. Since I know that many people don’t celebrate and/or particularly care about Christmas, I’m going to steal a line from Bob ‘MovieBob’ Chipman. “Whatever you’re having, have a happy one.”
I’m writing this blog entry from a Starbucks in the Asakusa area of Tokyo, and I’m doing it from my iPhone. That means all the pictures you’ll see were added after I wrote this. Why my iPhone you ask? Well I’m actually lugging my laptop around and wanted to write using it, but this Starbucks doesn’t give any ‘consent’ (an in-joke for anyone who knows the Japanese word for plug socket).
So I’ve been in Tokyo for a few days now and on the whole I’ve done very little in terms of touristy things. I’ve got another week here and I am actually trying to be the camera wearing bumbag toting tourist, only without the camera around the neck, no bumbag and I’d sooner die before saying something along the lines of “Hey Mable, take a picture of me with this little guy in a suit, poor thing thinks he’s a big shot or something” (yes I did hear a loud American-accented man shout that across a road this morning).
My first night here was a bit of a bust, I’ll be honest. For my last week at work I was viciously fighting off a cold and it finally took control just as I left my house to go to the airport. So an early night followed by a late morning, though I still managed to go to a local coffee shop for coffee and curry.
My first full day in Tokyo was spent mainly wandering around my locality. I have a copy of Lonely Planet Japan, but when I tried to read it my non-tourist instincts kicked in. I thought to myself how if I wanted to get the best views of certain places (and also stay warm) I’d be better off just looking on Google Images. So I dart onto my social network accounts and appeal for places to go. Thankfully my friends came to the rescue, giving me a few ideas.
I’ve always been the first to admit that when it comes to ‘tourism’ I’m the worst. I don’t like crowds of people meandering from side to side, not knowing where they’re going, stopping suddenly to take a picture of a cat, to faff, or to just stare with a blank expression on their face. I hate it even more so when I’m actually a part of that crowd!
Whenever I go to a new city or a new place (note how I didn’t say country) I DO like to spend my time aimlessly wondering around. But there’s a difference between me and those groups. For one, as an individual I’m less likely to get in the way of anyone, and when I stop to gawk at something I think about moving to the side, where nobody’s trying to get through. I also try to see the non-marketed, and non-‘idealised’ areas of places, in order to see what they’re really like. It’s all well and good saying you’ve been to Tokyo, then reeling off a list of places you’ve visited that anyone with the same guidebook would know. But for me that’s not good enough. By just doing that, I could never say comfortably that I’d been to Tokyo.
So Disneyland! Don’t get me wrong, there ARE some touristy areas I know and DO want to go to, as yesterday’s trip to Disneyland shows. I’d been to EuroDisney once when I was young (which involved a fun moment where I became king for the day after pulling the sword from the stone … true story!), so I thought a Disney trip with a friend would be a nice relaxing time, as well as a bit of a nostalgic moment. Tokyo Disney is much smaller than (I remember) it’s French equivalent (being), but we still had a great time. We managed to go on the three big ‘mountain’ rides (Space Mountain, Thunder Mountain and Splash Mountain) as well as some of the other smaller rides (which were still very good). Unfortunately I didn’t get to meet (or even see someone dressed up in full garb as) Mickey Mouse, nor did I find a stone with a sword to yank on. Innuendo, lol.
This being said, no one really goes to Disneyland for the rides, the attractions, or the shops and restaurants. You go for the queues! And being British, I certainly enjoyed that part! The three big rides each having lines of over two hours in length, and smaller ones with lines of between 25 and 40 minutes, ahh good times. Even the restaurant had a nice 45 minute line.
So while I still have some time left in Tokyo before going back to the countryside in Shimonoseki, I do have a few touristy spots that I want to go to, and am still trying to be touristy to a degree (I’m in Starbucks for petes sake), but I genuinely can’t think of many touristy spots that I ‘should’ see, or things I ‘should’ do. If you have any suggestions, please write them in the comments box below.
Update: Found a McDonalds with powerpoints in the smoking section, phew, *cough* *cough*!