Tokyo has opened our eyes to the conveniences of Japanese life… It is very easy to eat, play, sleep, and travel. We were situated in an urban region just near the city centre (close to the snowboard/ski strip as we needed to buy some gear – if you bring your passport when buying equipment you can get 10% off).
Everything is built up in this city. The skyline isn’t overly dramatic (architecturally) however it is consistently tall at least 100 km from the city’s heated centre. We were expecting insane crowds and confusion… but this was not the case at all.
- Heated toilet seat with bidet (hilarious and had both Mike and I laughing as we tested it out)
- The mirrors heat in a square where you might stand and apply makeup after a shower (leaving you with a fog free space to study your face from).
- You can adjust your shower height (this is brilliant).
- Some fast food noodle bars have a machine which you kind of use like a pop machine to order your meal. It gives you a ticket and then you give it to the matron to shout the order to the chef. They don’t have to wait for payment… it was brilliant.
- There literally are pop machines on the street every other block. They dispense cold and hot beverages…which is a little weird but so convenient!
- Meals order come out within minutes. We found the Japanese eat very quickly (which was fine with me, I eat like a vacuum).
- The trains are colour coded, and numbered so you can easily figure out where you are.
- Entertainment, there was a massive baseball and roller coaster park only 1km walk from our hotel…we rode an insanely tall ferris wheel which towered over every building for miles. I also had a mild panic attack! hahaha I’m terrified of heights.
Day 2 Mike guided us very easily from the centre of Toyko to the popular shopping destination: Harajuku. We spotted a few men and women who were dressed in more colourful outfits, however many of the people that headed to this region were actually wearing designer clothing. The place is literally crammed with european designer labels. It was in Harajuku that we visited our first temple. At the entrance there were hundreds of barrels of sake, and inside we were able to get a glimpse of a traditional wedding.
We spent a lot of our time walking around shopping and eating for 3 days. Our meals (sorry I’ve not yet taken any photos – I’ll get some over the next few days) were portioned in huge bowls which could easily feed 2 people. Needless to say I’ve been only able to get halfway through my food.
Yesterday we boarded an express bullet train from Tokyo to Nagano. The train I think travels around 300km per hour. It’s been raining, but the temperature is very pleasant and the journey was very fast! The city sprawls and sprawls, then suddenly you see mountains.
We took an hour bus ride from Nagano to Hakuba and were then dropped off at our hotel. We’ve got a lovely view of the mountains from our room. The hotel features a public onsen (Hot spring pools) which we both experienced separately yesterday, as they are specifically for men on one end and women the other. You have to get fully washed and naked before you are able to enjoy the hot thermal water… I chose to sit outside in the snow with the hot water keeping me warm… It was so relaxing to see the snow drifting down. If you get the chance you must try an onsen.
There is more to write but I’ll save it for later.
Thinking of you all,
Holly & Mike