A Full Day In Tokyo

Due to the nature of jetlag, it has felt like 6pm all day, although it

is still only 5.30pm now. Soon I will be in sync. I thought I’d be adventurous, so I tried the full on Japanese

breakfast this morning, and I did it with chopsticks too. I was a little disappointed to see all the natives using

knife and fork, but I showed them how. I tried pretty much everything in the pots. Maybe a little too adventurous,

and I will be staying away from anything blue and slimy tomorrow morning, because although it ‘slipped down’ it

wasn’t exactly a wonderful experience.

I thought I’d share this piece of information now, as if I tell you

where I ate last night you will think that I am totally bland. I had a Subway. I will argue that Japanese Subs do

taste different and you can have chips as well if you like (I didn’t). I did however have a drink that was the

colour of Kryptonite, which was nice.

So far there haven’t been any major problems. Mostly things have been

lost in translation, but once you get the hang of the subway system (I now realise the prices refer to zones as in

London, not per trip costs) its fairly smooth going. I feel like a local. Well, a local who doesn’t really know

what he’s doing, and forgets to use the money trays, and forgets how to say thanks. Apart from that, a real

local.

The Hotel Universe is a stones throw from a subway station, so getting out of bed, through food and

onto the underground by 9am this morning wasn’t a problem. First stop was Aoyama and the Meiji Shrine, which sport

the largest torii in Japan apparently. It used to be the personal gardens of the Emperor and the iris garden was a

favourite of his. Luckily I have arrived in the two week gap every year when the irises flower, and it is

spectacular, if not rammed from beginning to end with a stream of (Japanese) tourists who all are trying to outdo

each other with camera kit. It makes my SLR kit look quite pathetic. That said, I have taken approximately 70 photos

in the past two days, so doing quite well.

I ate lunch after a comprehensive walkabout and ordered the Beef

Curry Rice when the woman behind the counter couldn’t tell me what the ‘special toppings’ on the buckwheat

noodles was. After a stroll back through the busy streets (past all the designer shops; Harajuku and Aoyama have a

reputation as the place where, as my guidebook states, the ‘Teenage Hipsters’ hang out). On from here I took the

subway to the crammed riverside markets of Asakusa where I wondered for an hour or so in the heavy heat, pursuing

the narrow streets and winding stalls that are woven tight with an unhealthy number of overhead cables. I also

investigated the Senso-ji Temple, the oldest temple in Tokyo and impressively lavish. By midday the place was

brim-full of tourists and so I moved on again.

For the next stop I came right back across town to Marunouchi,

the oldest quarter of Tokyo and possibly the most barren. Like Washington DC, it was very sparse bar the important

buildings, and it took quite a walk from the station to the Imperial Palace. After taking some photos of what I

thought was the Imperial Palace, I walked a little further only to discover I had been a little mistaken and I had

to take all my photos again.

On the walk back I used the vending machines again. A different experience to the

ones in the UK, you don’t always know what you are getting, mostly due to the language issue. I most recently

bought an ice tea, although I didn’t know that until I opened it.

Tonight there are two final districts I

want to explore (rather than stay inside and watch the interesting, colourful and somewhat bizarre television

programmes). I can’t remember what time my flight is, but I will need to check that out. I haven’t yet decided

what I have for food tonight either. Oh, by the way, the girls here are stunning.

I managed to lynch another

Mac today and have been abusing the free internet. Notice came through of my dissertation mark (finally) and I

managed to hit 70. I’m happy, very happy to have a First, although I do think I would have appreciated a mark one

or two points higher… Can’t complain though; I did manage to acquire international notoriety after all. Swanny

did the calculations the other day and worked out (even though he was drunken) that I was on for a definite 2:1.

I’m more than happy at this as there are many friends of mine back at home sweating that they are sitting on the

borderline. I’d much rather know than have to wait until grades day.

I was hoping to upload a photo, but I

haven’t got my USB cable with me.