I’ve been back in England since Friday and I can’t tell you how much I miss Japan. However, I was lucky enough to have a week of fabulous adventures in and around Tokyo before I left, and now it’s time for me to start sharing those adventures with you. I’ll start at the very beginning – it’s a very good place to start. 😉
April 14th – my first day of freedom – aka my first day of unemployment. I headed to Tokyo first thing on the shinkansen (bullet train). Actually, I went to Shinagawa. I decided that Shinagawa was a good place to base myself for my adventures, as it’s very well-connected to other train lines. That turned out to be a good decision.
I guess I was a little worried about what I would find in Tokyo. Given the current situation in Japan resulting from the triple disaster (earthquake, tsunami and nuclear power plant issues), I was concerned about how Tokyo would have been affected. I had heard all sorts of things in the news and from my friends, and it was hard to know what to believe without going there myself.
Well, I’m happy to report that I had no problems whatsoever. Food was in plentiful supply (even yoghurts), shops and tourist attractions were for the most part open, trains were running, and the only real difference that I noticed was that less power was being used. All that really meant was that lights were off or dimmer and escalators were often switched off. I figured that had to be good for me really – I did a lot of walking in that week!
After dumping my stuff at my hotel in Shinagawa, I went out to start exploring. Right by my hotel there was a small shrine:
It was nothing special really, but I like to find these little shrines in the middle of big cities – it reminds me I’m in Japan.
My main mission for the day was to go to Tokyo Station and find the Rilakkuma Store. There are only a couple of Rilakkuma Stores in Japan, and I had never had the chance to go to one. Unfortunately, after a lot of wandering around Tokyo Station and getting lost, I discovered that the store I was trying to find had actually closed because of the building work that is going on there. I was very disappointed but, don’t worry readers, there is a happy ending to this story as I did eventually find a Rilakkuma Store elsewhere, later on in my trip! 😀 (More on that soon…)
While wandering around Tokyo Station, I stumbled upon this fantastic Hello Kitty bus:
It was a kind of Hato Bus – a famous tour bus in Tokyo. I would have liked to have taken a ride, but I didn’t have enough time as I was meeting a friend for dinner.
I had arranged to meet my friend for dinner in Shibuya. Shibuya seemed more-or-less the same as usual while it was still daylight:
But it was noticeably darker once night fell:
Still, it was just as busy and crowded as always.
My friend asked me to meet her by the “Moai statue” at Shibuya Station. I had only ever met people on the Hachiko side before, so it was my first time to see the Moai statue:
Apparently this statue is called “Moyai” and was given to Shibuya by the people of Niijima Island in 1980.
My friend and I went to a tofu restaurant in Shibuya called “Soranoniwa“. It was a magical little place in the back streets, and the food was really delicious!
They even had an English menu, complete with vegetarian signs, which really surprised me (although it was a little off in places).
We had tofu cocktails:
Little bundled up rice ball with tofu:
Tempura (which I’m sure had some tofu connection, but I can’t remember!):
And dessert – tofu cheesecake & tofu tiramisu:
I was very tired that night and happy to get back to my hotel to relax in a comfy bed – ready for another adventure the following day…