I know the updates have been sparse lately, but I’m trying to catch up now. Jetlag turns me from an evening person, into a morning person believe it or not. I’m typically up at 7 or 7:30AM, and I’m ready to head to bed by 10PM. Given that I’ve wanted to catch up on blogging in the evening, this makes it slightly difficult.
Tokyo station has been under construction since I started visiting Japan back in 2009, and it finally was completed in 2012. There is actually a hotel built into the station, so I had to give it a try for one night. Even though it was located in Tokyo station, finding it was a bit of an adventure. Imagine Tokyo station like Winnipeg square, except about 100x bigger except with less signage. Since I ended up walking out the wrong end of the station, I just ended up walking around outside to the front entrance of the station near the Imperial palace. After 20 hours of travel, I still managed to find it within 15 minutes.
The service is incredible in Japan, especially at the nicer hotels. Immediately upon walking in the door, someone greeted me and helped me with my luggage and escorted me to the desk. While I was checking in, they were helpful enough to take the baggage tag off my luggage without prompting. After I did the paperwork at the desk, I was escorted to my room by the porter who explained the features of the hotel. When I asked where the nearest 7/11 was, she even offered to escort me to it. They will certainly go above and beyond, more than you would find at many hotels in the west.
The first order of business, was of course getting some milk/cream and making coffee. Identifying milk in a convenience store isn’t that easy, since the writing on the carton was entirely in Japanese. It turns out that milk cartons are pretty much universal though, so I ended up with what I think was homogenized milk. The coffee filter I got from MEC actually works quite well. The filter is just a wire mesh to hold the paper filter in place, nothing more.
It’s a bit unstable, but it’s very small when collapsed and pretty rugged. Overall I’m happy with it.
I managed to luck out with the weather in Tokyo, it was 27C and sunny for the whole day. I thought I could avoid sunscreen for one day, but ended up getting a bit sun burnt.
I had originally planned to go to the Tsukiji Fish market, but it was closed due to a national holiday. Instead I started out with the Hama Rikyu Gardens, which was walkable from Tokyo station.
After the garden, it was time to head for a river cruise. The garden is on Tokyo bay, and linked to the many rivers that go through Tokyo. Given that it was a holiday, the boat was fairly crowded.
The boat passes under 13 bridges, and makes for a pleasant ride to Asakusa.
At Asakusa, there were a coupe things I wanted to check out. There is a temple and market located a short walk away, so I headed over there first. It was slightly crowded….
Now this area is always crowded, but again the fact it was a national holiday made it quite a bit worse.
One thing I like about Japan, is the street food is generally safe to eat and around these kind of markets there is tons of it around. I decided to try a skewer of pork..
It turns out, it was rice wrapped in pork served with Teriyaki sauce which was really good.
From the market, it was time to checkout the Tokyo Sky Tree.
The sky tree, with the golden turd building (or whatever that is).
It was way too crowded to actually go up the sky tree, unless you fancied waiting 3 hours. Instead I chose to check out one more garden, than head off to Narita airport. I headed over to the Shinjuku Gyoen garden, which has an excellent Japanese garden as well as French/English formal gardens.
My flight for Taipei was at 10AM the next day, so rather than staying in central Tokyo and having to take an hour train ride in the morning to get to the airport I decided to stay out at Narita instead. It was a convenient 10 minute bus ride from the hotel to the airport.