I have been really lucky to have been able to travel across the world throughout my life. As a child, my parents would take my brothers and I to many amazing places from Cyprus to Mexico. As an adult, I’ve also visited places I never thought I’d get to such as New York and Toronto. One place that was always at the top of my bucket list was to visit Japan and Tokyo in particular. I ticket that off my bucket list back in 2011, a few years before I started this blog so thought I’d write this blog and share some pictures and stories from my Tokyo adventure.
We travelled to Tokyo in the Summer of 2011, a 9 day trip in the land of the rising sun. We flew on a Monday and arrived on the Tuesday due to the massive time difference. It was such a massive culture shock. The train that was taking us from Narita Airport to the city had chairs that spun around so that you were always facing the direction the train was going in! We also stupidly hadn’t figured out where our hotel was once we got there but thankfully a local came over and asked if we needed help. She hailed us a cab, gave the driver our hotel address in Japanese before saying ‘welcome to Japan’.
Steven with Super Mario in Super Potato, Me playing Super Mario in the Super Potato arcade and the huge Yodobashi Akiba Centre from across the street.
On our first day in Tokyo, we headed into Akihabara which is the gaming district in Tokyo. As Steven and I are big gamers, this was one of the main reasons we always wanted to come to Tokyo. And it was everything we had hoped for and more. The best shop was Super Potato which is a multi-floor shop selling thousands of retro games and memorobilia. On the very top floor, there was an arcade and I got a bit addicted to a game called ‘Cotton’ where you control a witch on the broomstick casting spells. It was so much fun! We also went to a huge shopping complex called Yodobashi Akiba. It’s about the size of Braehead Shopping Centre but with multiple floors and it’s just one giant shop. As a Super Mario fan, I was loving the huge Nintendo section!
Tokyo Tower, Meiji Shrine and a park in the heart of Tokyo.
On the day that we visited the Tokyo Tower and the Meiji Shrine was actually an accident! Steven wanted to visit the Pokémon Centre and in our attempts to find it, we stumbled across these sites. We didn’t go up the Tokyo Tower as it was a particularly warm day so we took refuge in the shrine. Japan in July is incredibly hot (most days were 35 degrees) so it was nice to sit under the shade of a tree and just take in the beauty of the Meiji Shrine. There was also a gorgeous park nearby which we took a stroll through. It was amazing to stroll through such beautiful nature in the heart of one of the worlds biggest cities.
Public toilets in Japan, an oxygen bar and the Asahi Beer building in Asakusa.
Much of our trip was just doing whatever crossed our path. This would often mean that we’d be very far away from our hotel so would need to use public toilets. As you can see from the picture above, toilets in Japan are VERY different. The toilet in our hotel room was one of those smart toilets that cleans your bum for you! Bizarre and also amazing! We did an Oxygen Bar in Gyoza district which is basically flavoured oxygen designed to do different things such as ‘serenity’, ‘calm’ etc.
Some delicious shaved ice, Steven pretending to be a sumo and a red panda at Ueno Zoo.
We also made a visit to the Ueno Zoo which is home to a wild range of animals. Part of me regrets going because I’m not sure I completely agree with zoos but we did see lots of amazing animals. Pandas, penguins and my favourite – red pandas. THEY ARE SO DAMN CUTE! I wish we could have a red panda as a pet!
Sonic gaming at Joypolis, the Odaiba Rainbow Wheel and the spectacular view of Tokyo Bay
As we reached the end of our trip, we had one more thing we wanted to do which was to visit Odaiba. Odaiba is an artificial island in Tokyo Bay which has become a major leisure district in the city. It was a gorgeous day so the views across Tokyo Bay were breathtaking. Once we got to Odaiba, we had a wander around this ancient Greece themed shopping centre before heading to Joypolis which was a SEGA theme indoor theme arcade. I can’t remember a lot about the rides we went on but I do remember trying to go on a ride and the poor lady having to explain to us that we couldn’t because you needed to be able to read Japanese. Awkward! At night, we headed down to the beach where we just had a seat and took in the glorious views of Tokyo and the Rainbow Bridge. We also did a massive rainbow ferris wheel before taking the ferry over.
It has now been 6 years since I visited Tokyo and I am absolutely itching to get back. There is so much that we didn’t see – Mount Fuji, a trip to Kyoto, Tokyo Disneysea and so much more. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading my recap of my time in Japan.