A weekend in Tokyo

Catching up on earthquake news

Our trip to Japan was certainly one to remember. In between feeling like we were starring in our own quest-related video game, and trying to recall any advice we had been given about what to do in the event of an earthquake (none) we had a very cool Far East Adventure. The first district we stayed in was Shibuya, the heart of youth culture in Tokyo, and home to the biggest set of zebra crossings in the world. The polite and organised folk of Tokyo were able to cross multiple crossings with hundreds of people all at once and then stop on a  sixpence as the traffic resumes.

Shibuya crowded crossing

I can only imagine the carnage if this had been tried in London. It is also the only time I have ever been approached by a complete stranger for a friendly chat while in the middle of a zebra crossing. An old Japanese man wanted to ask where we were from and how we were enjoying our visit.

Pachinko – here come the balls!

The towering neon electronic billboards take you back to the opening scenes of Bladerunner. In fact, Ridley Scott, the Director of the film apparently said the opening shots of the movie were Teesside steelworks crossed with downtown Tokyo. The multi storey shop 109 is home to the global heart of Wild Teen Fashion. Floor after floor of gorgeous outfits draw you in and the sales girls apparently are the prettiest youngsters who come in from the surrounding towns and villages to make it big in Japan. They are all so petite and doll like.. I loved all the crazy clothes, shoes and accessories, but while I may have the heart of a wild teen Fashionista, alas I do not have the figure of one.

Wild Teen fashion

The shops are full of cool funky things and because the exchange rate is favourable to the pound at the moment, nothing seemed that expensive.

Got Pandas in my heels tonight

In fact, I would say Tokyo is  a lot cheaper than London – in particular transport, food and even accommodation. You could get a small fresh omelette and some iced tea for less than a fiver down a small side street, just a stone’s throw from buzzing Shibuya. Things get even madder in these parts after dark.

Wild teen tunes

The Saturday night after the earthquake we ventured out and were cast into the middle of a wild teen weekend. A vibrant band with a pink haired guitarist impressed me with their joie de vivre, and a little later on some crazy Japanese cartoon motorbikes came roaring through town with their vivid  customised colourful chassis.

Manga boy means business

We visited the anime/ Manga café in Akihabara and pounded the pavement in Electric City which is a buzzing Mecca for the electronic geeks among us. We zipped across to the rather mad Harajuku street, home of Gwen Stephani’s Harajuku girls  and came across a stunning field of Iris in the nearby park. A huge display of wine and straw barrelled sake made for a different art installation nearby.

Iris eyes are smiling

We played it safe with the food because I had already disabled myself by overindulging on wine in the Crazy Force café on one particular night, and didn’t want to fall foul of some strange gizzards or raw things and add insult to injury. We ate a lot of noodles, rice and an awful lot of egg sandwiches.

Japan excels in many things and their egg sandwiches are right up there, they are absolutely delicious. We also drank a lot of ‘One Cup Sake’ easily purchased in the local supermarket for a very modest amount of yen and just enough, as the name suggests, for one cup! Kanpai! (cheers in Japanese if you hadn’t guessed)
Blue hair is cool
You can go wild on the eating front if that is your bag. Raw things, and things that are very very chewy are in evidence everywhere. And did you know hot noodles are really only acceptable at lunchtimes? There are restaurants where you can eat only out of cans, or one where you are served by robots (who disappointingly turned out to be people dressed up.) In one small establishment you are greeted by someone dressed sometimes as frog and your meal becomes part of a Da Da esque performance which often includes insulting all the customers (shades of Fawlty Towers.)
In order to retain your beauty you can obtain a flower face roller or a face pyjama. Or some pants which make your bum stick out more if you feel that your lack of booty is an issue for you.

 

Keep your face cosy

Japan is pretty much another planet. The measured manners and ethnically homogeneous culture of the people are such a contrast to the genetic diversity and general chaotic rudeness which characterises Britain today.

Gnomes with no respect
Science fiction, shopping, skyscrapers, earthquakes and awesome public transport. Fascinating faces, bingy bongy music and recreational toilets. People smoking and gambling by proxy with ball bearings in the deafening Pachinko parlours. It’s all there on the other side of the world. There is a Disneyland Tokyo just outside of the city, we spotted Cinderella’s Castle on the bus as we headed back to the airport. Why anyone would need to go to Disneyland when you can travel into the future today, in terrific Tokyo itself – better than any theme park you could possibly imagine – is beyond me.
Neon nuttiness

 

 

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