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Tokyo Day 1: Shinjuku

JAPAN | Tuesday, 12 August 2008 | Views [2584]

This will be a story of confusion, exhaustion and lots of near-vomitting. Let’s start from the top.

I got about 2 hours of sleep before waking up at 2:30 a.m. to go to the airport. Our flight was at 6 a.m. We landed at Narita Airport around 2 pm Tokyo time. Immigration was a breeze. We took two trains to get to Shinjuku, where we were staying. The whole trip from Narita to Shinjuku took two hours. Tickets were bought from actual human beings so that was also easy. The only thing of note on the train ride was a Japanese girl-Italian guy couple who were being loud and annoying, pissing off the old Japanese couple next to them.

Once we reached Shinjuku… well I don’t know what I was expecting but I was super fucking excited. Shinjuku is one of the major commercial centres in Tokyo and its administrative centre. It’s also home to the busiest train station in the world, servicing a million commuters daily. This was apparent from the chaos that surrounded us the moment we got out of the train.

We stayed at the Sunroute Plaza Shinjuku. It came with our relatively inexpensive flight package so we weren’t sure what to expect, but it turned out to be a pretty swanky hotel. The room was tiny, as most Japanese hotel rooms are, but it was otherwise very nice. It had one of those high-tech Japanese toilets with a bidet. During the trip, I formed a very fond attachment to the Japanese bidet.

It was raining that afternoon, so our first purchase in Tokyo was a pair of umbrellas. Very cute ones that made us feel like Tokyoites. I was quite sad to leave them behind on our last day but they were too cumbersome to carry onto the plane.

We basically just wandered around aimlessly, wondering where to eat, since everything was in Japanese and we weren’t really sure what was good and cheap. Eventually we stumbled across one of those vending machine restaurants, and we stopped there. At the entrance is a vending machine. You put in your money, choose what you want to eat from the pictures, and then the machine gives you a receipt. You give the receipt to a waitress, who then passes it to the kitchen and then you get your food.

It took me a long time to decide what to eat because the pictures were so small and I didn’t know what was what. I ended up having a hot plate of fried rice, which turned out to be pretty good. When the waitress gave it to me, she warned, “Hot-to.”

After dinner we went to Takashimaya Times Square, the 11-story behemoth with a floor to cater to each age group. We entered right into Tokyu Hands, a department store that pretty much sells everything you never knew you needed, like crepe makers, towels specially designed for hair-drying, cutters that create cute faces on your seaweed so that you can make sushi and rice balls that look like this:

I almost bought some really cute ass chopsticks, which were yellow and came in their own plastic box and said in French, “Have you eaten yet?”. I was also stuck for a while at the lunchbox section. SO MUCH CUTENESS.

Eventually Lianyi tore me away so we could explore the other floors. Well we were too tired to do any shopping so we just went all the way up to the top to HMV. After buying a Super Furry Animals CD, we had a crepe and then we walked back to our hotel. There was a Krispy Kreme right outside Taka. It had a long queue outside it when we walked past it on our way to Taka, and it still had a long queue as we walked back. I guess donuts are popular everywhere.

Tags: japan, shinjuku, takashimaya, tokyo

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