Blog 2: Is 6 nights in Tokyo enough? probably not but we did try and pack things in. Using the Yamote subway line you can crcle the city centre in just over an hour. Stop off at Shibuya (photo opportunity with Hachiko statue just outside the stn, it's a little dog with a story). Navigate the infamous crossing and go to Starbucks. Get a window seat and enjoy the sight of thousands of people crossing at once (how does the traffic move here?).
Next stop, Harajuku for the 'outlandishly dressed' younger generation (just walk straight out of the station and follow the crowds). If you get to the far end of the street, turn left and come back through the park (a little oasis in a busy area).
Fancy a view into bugs and parasites, then Megaro is the place. Exit the stn and head down towards the river and beyond. It's about 1.5km from the stn so keep going. Special exhibit of a 8m long tape worm (it's a long way but it's free!!).
Fancy a day at the zoo, Oeno is the place to be. Exit the stn and turn right. Cross the road, 2 options bear left up the steps and walk through the park or turn right and follow the road up for about 400m (it's all sign posted). You'll meet up with the other path. It was only a few hundred yen each to get in. Buy your ticket at the automatic machine.(again, it rained but cheap brollys at Y300 were available in the shops). A nice meal in the cafeteria (picture menus are a bonus) and relatively cheap. The curry rice was delicious.
Tsukiji fish market was an eye opener (but not at 5am!!!). But to see the best bits you have to have a sobre night!! before hand and rise with the sun (we were only 1km away so it was easy to walk from hotel, but Shimbashi stn is the closest on the Yamote line). It's very busy so watch out for porters on motorised trolleys. If you go to the far side you can watch the tuna being auctioned. They don't mind visitors but no flash photography. Blink and you've missed it, the bell signals the start of the action!! There's a lovely little garden near by, but it was closed (who else is going to be up at 6am!!). Again, only a few hundred yen to get in.
Studio Ghibli (for the anime buffs) was a good day out (but buy your tickets in the UK to guarantee entrance, it's a bit dearer but you can chose the day you want to go. About £9 each). Train from Tokyo stn to Mitaka stn (JR line so free with the JR pass). OK, it was a 1.4km walk from the stn but it soon passes. Note: a chicken hotdog is not a hotdog made with chicken (it's a roll filled with chicken/mayonaise). Nobody liked the mayonaise in Japan (apart from me, and I'll eat anything), so it was 3 hotdogs for me from the cafe. Back to the museum, it's mainly in Japanese but you get the gist, go see the short film in the auditorium.
Odaiba (artificial island in Tokyo bay) is reached by a driverless monorail(again from Shimbashi stn). A couple of hrs to shop, stay longer and sightsee (there's a small fun fair, spa etc).
Tokyo Disney (we've done the Florida parks 4 times so thought about not going). Glad we did, again most of the shows are in Japanese (hey, we are in Japan remember!!) but it's the usuall favourites with rides, characters etc. Some waits were lengthy (90+ mins) whilst others were <10mins. Ate at the Crystal Palace (no reservations, just queue at the door inlike the US where you have to book days in advance). All you can eat buffet!
Sight seeing in Tokyo (family wasn't impressed with the Imperial Palace, although I think it's quite beautiful) it's about 400m from the stn (on the west side). Akihabara for the electronics (although similar prices to back home). We went to Laox (passport required for duty free). 7 floors of goodies (we bought all our presents here!!), so a rucksack comes in useful. Asakusa, there's the covered market (hundreds of stalls) and the temple itself (that's one big paper lantern!!). We caught the Sumida river boat back down to Hinode pier, the sun was starting to set so it was a lovely end to the day. Monorail back to the Shimbashi stn.
Tokyo tower, get off at Akabanebashi stn exit stn, cross road and turn right past the garage (keep that on your left) and its only a short walk (we turned left with garage on right and it was a bit of a hike, we could see the tower but not get to it!!). Anyway, finally got there (we went at night for the views). Lots of lit buildings/flashing lights but the tower itself is the main attraction (from the outside anayway!!). Ate here in the cafe (choice of menus, kids opted for Italian).
Some tips: if you can, get a rail pass for the subway. Take a rucksack (for those purchases, drinks etc). Use the loos when available (shortage of public conveniences) at stns, cafes etc.. Drink lots of water. If you are eating out, you always get iced water, if you are on a budget you don't need to buy a drink to go with your meal (it seems the done thing by the locals!!). Take or buy a brolley (sunshade and rain protection in one). If you have kids, there's a saving to be had by buying junior/high school passes to most attractions depending on age (I would class my kids as adults- big boned and tall with it!!). Recommended reading was 'Japan (published by Lonely Planet)'. It had everything you could possibly need, including up to date costs for most attractions and suggestions of things to do/see 9we used it constantly).
That's about it for now (next installment: how to eat cheaply for <£5 when a meal in the hotel costs £30 and upwards each and dodging bus fares!! It was by accident, honest!!) or Hakone- what's that smell?