May 2006 - Tokyo & Europe

Both Jonno and I have become addicted to Iced Cocoa. It is served in most coffee shops here and I consider it an essential part of any breakfast here in Japan. With an abundance of Coca Cola here in Tokyo, and my determination not to drink it, this Iced Cocoa was a delicious alternative. Trying the find Sprite in Tokyo is next to impossible (no, not even in the millions of vending machines covering every drab wall) and I will never forget that $15 Lemonade I had, neither can my wallet, but that story comes a little later.

With the craziness of Shibuya behind us (at least for this trip) today's shopping adventure found us in Ginza where Jonno's liberal spending became adventageous in Itoya (possibly the best stationary store in the world) earning points that I would later use to buy 3 mini pens.

From Ginza to Shinjuku and direct to the Bic Camera store where we wasted an hour ogling all the crazy cool electronics.

My concern in navigating the endless maze of Shinjuku station (for those that don't know it is the busiest train station in the world, seeing more than 1 million passengers each day) ended up not being as hard as I thought. I remembered where the Marounuchi line dropped us as finding it again was only a matter of locating the teeny tiny lane that runs along Shinjuku station from the JR lines to the Marounuchi Metro. Easy peesy. How I managed to find it again was part skill, my natural homing pigeon sense, but mostly it was a fluke. At least this meant that we could enjoy a crepe from the store that we smelt when walking past on our way to the shops.

Jonno returned to Kinokyunia for the sequel to Making out in Japan. Sadly I don't have the book with me now and therefore cannot entertain you with some more educational Japanese phrases. Whether we had come to the end of our shopping limit or the time limit we were facing we didn't spend a whole lot of time in Shinjuku, or too much money.**

Side Note: I am currently sitting on a plane on my way to Paris via London and finally I have SPRITE!

Next we caught a train to Akihabara (Electronics District). I should have foreseen this problem, I was quite tired and knew we had a long night ahead of us, I had inadvertently taken a kid (ie Jonno) to a massive candy store of colour, anime and second hand PlayStation games. In fact it was kind of cool because they were selling all the old game systems which made Jonno become rather nostalgic. So what I thought was going to be a quick walk through of Akihabara ended in me getting a little short and jokingly telling Jonno that I was glad we weren’t sharing a room the next night. Finally, we made it to the train station after a couple of hours and a huge anime store later.

Saturday Night was Park Hyatt Night, in other words another night of following the Lost in Translation trail across Tokyo. So we dressed our best and headed out, confident that I would be able to find the Park Hyatt easily having stayed there the last time I was in Tokyo. I neglected to pack a map and decided to take the tunnels through to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Buildings, oops. It wasn’t a huge “We’re Lost.” But it did add about another 15mins to the travel time and Jonno’s feet were suffering in his ‘cool yet not meant for walking’ boots. I promised him that we would go above ground back to the train station.

So we went and had dinner in the Park Hyatt Restaurant. This is where that I had the surprise of the $15 Lemonade on the bill. It was a nice Lemonade, though maybe not $15 worth of nice. As I got up to leave I rolled my ankle as my foot was asleep, trying to steady myself and get moving again I shook my foot only to have my slip on shoe do a low level flying stunt across about 2 metres. Fortunately there was no one in the booth where it landed. As I am trying to fumble my way back into my shoe and stop myself from laughing the waiter comes over to bid us goodbye, so needless to say it wasn’t the suavest of moments I have had. We finished the night off with a drink in the New York Bar, a Caprioska that was not muddled so I enjoy squashing the bits of lime against the side of my glass. We headed back to the train and managed to catch it by seconds, it arrived as we were coming down the escalator, perfect timing and the end to a very enjoyable evening.

On my final day in Tokyo we headed to Harajuku in less than perfect weather. As we enjoyed our final day of shopping it started raining, thankfully out of nowhere appeared a little Umbrella stand that sold clear umbrellas for 300\ (about $3.60). This meant that we were able to walk to the Meiji Temple through the park which was a little fun in the rain and we didn't get too wet. I was not able to locate the Diesel store, even with a map that the Concierge of the Park Hotel Tokyo gave me, so that was a little disappointing, but then again maybe I have spent enough.

We relocated to the Four Seasons Hotel in Chinzan-so and decided to spend the rest of the afternoon relaxing at the Hotel. Emi and Miyo joined us again for Afternoon Tea, followed by that bottle of Champagne from the flight to Tokyo. We were having so much fun that we ended up having dinner as well. After many hours of laughs it was time to bid farewell to Emi and Miyo (we can’t wait until you make it back to Sydney!) and return to our rooms to pack. Unfortunately the airport shuttle buses in the morning meant that I had to be up at 530am, even though my plane wasn’t leaving until 1050am. On a plus side it meant I was fourth in the queue to check-in. Because I am now doing the rest of this trip on my own I decided to buy a little pet with the left over yen I had at the airport, it's a little blue idog that flashes and moves to music. I haven't turned him on yet, after reading the instructions he seems a bit needy, he also needs batteries!

So I am now at the beginning of a 12 hour flight, we just had lunch and as usual not that appetising. I am missing Tokyo already and the Iced Cocoa. Will I return? Absolutely!