Tokyo Honeymoon (Part One)
Wow, as if it has been over two months since we landed back in the UK from our 10 day honeymoon in TOKYO!
I have been writing this post for what seems like forever, but due to how much there is to say and growing a human, it has taken a while to complete.
There had been a lot of discussion as to where we should go for our honeymoon, I haven’t travelled much so wanted this trip to be a once in a lifetime experience. Traditional honeymoons take place somewhere hot, filled with romantic beach walks, exotic cocktails and dips in the pool. I have never been a beach person, I don’t enjoy sunbathing and get bored rather quickly. Tom originally wanted one of these honeymoons, whereas I wanted to go to Disney World, a bit of a contrast. We both have always been fascinated with the east and Japan was one of those places we never thought we would manage to visit, but a honeymoon was the best excuse.
A note to those afraid of flying, it takes a long ass flight (or two) to get to Tokyo, definitely worth the trip but be prepared.
Shibuya and Shinjuku
We decided that our first full day in Tokyo should be spent getting lost in Shibuya and Shinjuku. Firstly, if you go to Tokyo get a Suica card, this is pretty much an oyster card but saved us so much hassle during our time in the city, we put ¥6500 on each card which lasted the 10 days we were there.
Our first stop was Shibuya to see the scramble crossing, this is five (possibly six) way crossing set amongst New York style skyscrapers. When the crossing light turns green people cross from all directions causing the road to look flooded with people.
We made the mistake of assuming somewhere as busy as this would be easy to find, however due to taking the wrong exit in the train station we ended up walking a long way around Shibuya. Whilst walking we also discovered that Tokyo in September is HOT. It is so humid that you break into an instant sweat and on this particular day the sun was shining as well! If you are one of those that gets grouchy in the heat then I would suggest choosing a cooler time of the year.
What surprised us about somewhere as popular as Shibuya is how suburban it quickly becomes as you walk away from the train station. You expect the whole of Tokyo to be all high rises and busy roads but this wasn’t the case.
After finally making it to scramble crossing we were a little underwhelmed, maybe because we had walked miles and miles to find a crossing or because we were so sweaty and hungry from the walk that we didn’t care that we had found it. In fact, we were more impressed by the amount of vending machines there were on the streets, untouched by graffiti and free from cigarette burns, something you wouldn’t get in England, we can’t even have bins in our train stations, never mind vending machines.
The obligatory tourist picture of the crossing was taken and we quickly made our way back to the train station, which was literally in front of the crossing (make sure you check your exits!).
Next stop Shinjuku. I hadn’t heard much about this place, only that it was busy, and they weren’t wrong. Shinjuku is more like the Tokyo you see on the TV, bright lights, tall buildings and busy streets. It is also, apparently where the Japanese red light district is. Like London’s Soho, there are strip clubs and massage places down nearly every alley. We even spotted the famous Robot Restaurant down one of the side streets. Everywhere you looked was just crazy, but despite being in what would be considered a ‘rough area’, if you liken it to Soho, the streets were all so clean and the people still so polite.
It was also amazing to find beautiful temples among the high rises. They would be tucked in slightly and free from tonnes of people.
Tom and I very similar when it comes to our views on guided tours, let’s just says we are not fans. HOWEVER, we also get lost pretty easily so decided that as it would mean venturing outside of Tokyo, a long way outside of Tokyo, that we would book a Tour of Mount Fuji and one of the lakes.
I am not going to vent about my hatred of coaches, our guide who’s name was Kako (spelling may be wrong) but asked us to call her Katy as that was easier for tourists, tried her best to make it a fun experience with interesting facts and origami lessons but it was just a heavy traffic day which meant the coach ride was around 4 hours long just to get to the first stop.
We stopped at a lake for lunch, a cable car ride and a short cruise, which, aside from waiting around for people who can’t tell the time, was beautiful. The sun was shining and it was such a beautiful place. After what seemed like a short visit it was time to get on the dreaded coach again, heading for the mountain itself.
You can actually drive up the mountain up to the 5th station, which is 2400m high. The funny thing about this is that as we were driving up and got to the 4th station we could see the summit as clear as day, the 5th station however was just clouds. Clouds below us, clouds above us, and clouds pretty much all around us, it was also 10°C cooler than it was a ground level. So 4th station was impressive, 5th not so much, but the tour guide couldn’t control the clouds so we will let her off.
Luckily when we booked the trip we opted for the ride back to Shinagawa on the Shinkansen, also known as the bullet train. When standing at the station it was easy to see that these trains are a lot faster than your bog standard Great Northern train, but when on it you wouldn’t even know you were going 200mph, it was a very smooth trip back and the trains themselves are very roomy and clean so definitely an improvement on the cramped coach we had spent a total of 7 hours on that day.
We went for our tour on a Saturday, returning to Shinagawa for 9.30pm and much to our surprise, 90% of the restaurants in the area were closed! We ended up eating in a western chain restaurant as it was the only place open. Who knew that Saturday nights in Tokyo were so dead?!
Maybe it is baby brain or excitement amnesia but I can’t actually remember how we ended up here, we were walking down a street, turned a corner and we were greeted by a massive temple, the Senso-ji Temple in fact.
Being a popular tourist spot the Senso-ji temple was unlike the small inner city temples that were quiet and empty, it was rammed! There were Japanese people praying inside the temple, tourists taking photos outside the temple and generally it was manic. It was such a beautiful building, so intricate with loads of tiny details, it is situated in a part of Tokyo that still retains some of the classic features of the past, making it an experience walking around and away from the temple.
Although we hadn’t experienced any issues as a result of our tattoos (Japan associating them with the Yakuza) we decided not to actually go into the main temple as a sign of respect for those praying inside. After leaving the temple we enjoyed a walk around the surrounding area which was full of beautiful statues and plenty of things to see.
This is where Tom tried Takoyaki, which is Octopus balls to you and me. He was willing to be more adventurous than me, being a pregnant anxious mess ‘n’all. Let’s just say it was the first and last time that Tom ate Takoyaki (HA!)
Due to how long this post was getting, I had to split it up… You’ll have to go to part two to read, and see, the rest!