So what shall we do with our first day in Japan. Breakfast was the first thing that came to mind but we wasn’t sure if anything would be open, it was 5am and jet lag was causing problems. We managed to stay in bed until 6 and then headed out to the “Family Mart” (note to self: remember to always hand over payment with both hands, it’s considered rude not to). After our first shopping experience we learned there is a distinct lack of benches, or any type of public seating! We walked around for quite some time until we finally found two benches tucked out the way and tucked into breakfast I don’t think eating in public places is very common because we were getting a few sideways glances. We read that it’s considered rude to walk whilst drinking and eating, but maybe there is more too it? Next was a hunt for a bin, these are more scarce then benches! We ended up carrying the rubbish for ages until finally dumping it in a McDonald’s. Bins in Japan is something I need to Google, I am sure it’s related to how clean the city is, absolutely spotless!
We decided to head over to Asakusa today (where today’s blog image was taken), a very popular district of Tokyo with many shops and the famous Sensō-ji, Buddhist temple. We have to thank jet lag on this occasion as we arrived way before all the tourists, enabling us to get some good snaps. It was just us surrounded by local businessmen stopping off for their morning prayer before work. We must have spent an hour and a half looking around all the temples and shrines and when we left we could see how busy this place was going to get, the entrance was just a sea of people. The walkway down the to temples where now in full flow and the Japanese “Tat Shops” (gift shops) were very interesting to look around, completely different to their western counterparts.
Next we decided to head over to the popular Shinjuku district to check out the two most popular parks in Tokyo. Whilst staring at a map (Tokyo is hard to navigate) we met an Australian lad that had just landed and was completely lost. He was here for his second year of uni and didn’t really plan a route to his hotel. We sat with him for ten minutes to work out where he needed to go. He’s got some balls coming to Japan on his own to study. I hope he can speak Japanese because no one seems to speak English!
The first park we got to was closed, bummer, so we headed to the other expecting the same but fortunately it was open. The Meiji Jingu park is not your typical park, it’s has two or three very wide pathways leading to temples and is surrounded by extremely dense forest. The sound the insects were making was deafening and you could easily mistake yourself for being in a rainforest. The main temple, whilst less impressive than the temples in Asakusa was still very interesting. Slightly less popular with the locals, I presume because of the mosquito infested walk, but more open to the tourists. You feel more relaxed here and less pressure when taking photographs and wandering around. You can even follow step by step guides on how to wash yourself before you enter and how to pray when inside. Hayley and I both partook, it was great fun! There was fortune reading outside where we shook a box until a number fell out, we then had to open a draw with this number on to reveal a piece of paper with our fortune. Mine was just a ‘normal’ fortune but Hayley’s was ‘good’ with apparent wealth coming her way!
Jet lag was causing us to feel very sleepy so we headed back to the hotel to relax before heading out for dinner. Unfortunately this turned in to me sleeping for three hours until 8pm and not really wanting to go out. Hayley insisted that we needed to eat and I would regret it when I wake up at midnight starving. We stayed local to the hotel and ended up picking a very small (3 tables) family run restaurant. We pointed at the spicy pork and then seemed to be forced into buying an alcoholic beverage. This was lost in translation and they did have soft drinks, we was both just very tired. After we were brought one serving of spicy pork we realised she didn’t understand that we wanted one each, so w asked about another dish and if we could have rice on the side. She said no rice. No rice in a Japanese? So we paid up and left. It was not until after leaving we realised that she must have meant no rice with that dish and you had to buy it separate, we wondered why she was pointing to something else on the menu when saying no rice! Still hungry we stopped at another place that served chips with egg and chorizo. This time we managed to get two portions and headed back to the hotel to watch a video on how to order food in Japan! Better luck tomorrow hopefully.