21.10.2011 - 26.10.2011 24 °C
The arrival into Tokyo was quite the mission. It took a total of just under 4hrs from disembarking plane and arriving at our accommodation. This involved two trains and a Subway including one of the busiest stations in Tokyo on a Friday night. The platforms were packed and so were the trains, except for one carriage which looked a lot less jammed and conveniently stopped in front of Luke waiting on the platform. The doors opened and to Luke’s further surprise, it appeared that people were actually making way for him to get on the train as they got off. “How nice is that?” were Luke’s thoughts as he stepped onto the train... and then realised the truth. A MASSIVE vomit just to the right of the doorway that he was forced to quickly avoid stepping into with thongs on and 25kg of weight on his back! A deep voice from someone in the crowd then followed in a stilted English accent, “Welcome to Tokyo raahahaha”
We stayed at a friend of a friend’s, Rika who was lovely and welcoming and had the cutest little Japanese house. We headed out to do some sight-seeing in Asakusa which preserves a traditional downtown atmosphere. Here we found Senso-ji - a huge Temple filled with worshippers and numerous traditional features. One of these was Omikuji- a paper fortune. Mel got very excited by this and followed the procedure but forgot to make the wish! If you get a bad fortune you can tie your paper up to a wire and let the wind blow the bad fortune away, however, Mel got number 99 – literally the “best fortune” ...if she only had of made the wish!
Turned out Mel was too distracted and excited about a certain rugby game that she believed was on that afternoon so we made our way to Roppongi – the party town and place to watch sport. We quickly realised we were a day early but decided to hang around anyway and check out the bars.
We somehow found a small hidden bar on the second floor behind a hair salon called Answer bar which was decked out with detective paraphernalia. The barman poured us a G + T served with Japanese snacks and chatted to us for a while. Turned out he works in the bar with 20 other private detectives, who take turns doing a bar shift when they are not investigating (mostly love affairs) during their regular work days.
We checked out a couple more bars, ran out of money, decided it was time to head home so went into a convenience store to get some cash out but had no luck as the ATM did not take Master Card... neither did the next one, neither did the next one, neither did the next one... this went on for 3hours!! We started weighing up our options which involved mostly saying “umm” and “ahhh” to each other before deciding it’s either do a runner on a taxi or flag fair the trains. We choose the latter and successfully sneaked past numerous guards and hopped on 3 different trains until we reached our final change... only to find the trains had finished for the night! We then started to formulate the plan of how we were going to do the runner. Mel lined up in the taxi queue whilst Luke decided to have one last ditch effort to find another ATM.
We were in Ikebukuro – a Kings Cross like town with maze of small streets and alleyways but at the end of one of these streets... bingo! A 7Eleven that didn’t have a stupid pink ATM that would accept our card! The problem was our 28Degrees MasterCard had maxed out and the spare card was with Mel.
Luke ran back to Mel, grabbed her and then realised (mind you it was 3:30am at this point and we had been running around for hours and were completely knackered) that the spare was actually with him the whole time and we had no idea how to get back to the 7Eleven!
Eventually we found another 7Eleven, got some cash out and jumped into a cab and realized we were kidding ourselves with the runner idea. It’s virtually impossible in a Japanese cab - they control the locks and the opening of the door from their driver’s seat!
We spent the next day watching and celebrating the All Blacks win then headed down to Mt Fuji. We decided against a partial climb as we were ill prepared with equipment and footwear. Instead we hired some bicycles and rode around Lake Kawaguchiko and admired the scenery and views of the Mountain. After our hard day of exercise we relaxed in our first Onsen (traditional naked public bath house).
Next stop Kyoto Japan...