Bright Lights of Tokyo
After two and a half weeks of camping in over 40 degree heat on the Jamboree site, it was such a relief to get back to civilisation, a comfy bed and a strong shower. Second to the relief, I was excited to see the bright lights of Tokyo.
After a quick walk about and hunting down of dinner on the first evening, the first place I had to navigate my way to on the Tokyo underground (which is crazy!) was the Tokyo Sky Tree. The tallest structure in Tokyo with a huge viewing platform at the top.
With my addiction to climbing tall things spiking to an all time high, I couldn’t wait to get up there.
As soon as you get up on to the first level of the viewing platform and look out at Tokyo beneath you all you can think about is the sheer vastness of the city. In every direction all you can see it Tokyo. On the horizon Tokyo simply continues as it disappears into the mist.
If you’re scared of heights, I wouldn’t recommend standing on the glass floor. It is a little trippy looking down to see the floor hundreds of metres below you.
Once back on solid ground, I headed to Sensō-ji Temple, the oldest temple in the whole of Tokyo.
As we approached we were greeted by this lovely group all in traditional Japanese dress who asked us if we would like a tour of the temple purely for the opportunity for them to practice their English, of course, we accepted.
The Japanese are incredibly spiritual people and nothing is without meaning and significance. There is a complete routine that comes with visiting the temple. First you waft the incense over your head, this is believed to have healing powers.
Next you have to wash and drink from the purification fountain using the ladles provided. Never drink directly from the ladle! Use it to pour water into your hand and drink from this instead. You are then ready to enter the temple itself.
These temples usually also have fortune telling facility. You pay to choose a drawer and it will tell you your fortune.
In front of Sensō-ji Temple there is a market place of everything Japanese. Lanterns, chopsticks, fans, hair pins. You name it, they have it. Between the tourist souvenirs you can find genuine handmade trinkets and culture.
After leaving the temple we headed to Ueno, mainly because I collect Hard Rock Cafe pins from wherever I travel, so I dragged my pal on the metro again to go and hunt one out. It turns out however that Ueno has far more to offer than just a pin to add to my collection – it has amazing alleys filled with little street food eateries that are rammed with the locals. It smelt divine.
Not only this but it has a fantastic park. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw a field full of lotus plants. When I got closer I realised what I was actually looking at was a lake, so stocked full of these beautiful flowers than you can’t see the water until you’re literally standing on the edge.
That evening, all of us took the train out to Tokyo Port, the home of Joypolis, Tokyo’s virtual theme park. Jam packed with simulators, video games and rides the hundreds of young people were able to run around and appreciate the technological side to Japan’s modern culture.
Before even arriving, the train journey offers some spectacular views of this incredible city.
The building which houses Joypolis also has great restaurants and bars which look out over the water. This was one of the best views I got the entire time I was in Tokyo. Watching the sun go down over the port was spectacular.
After sunset I wandered down onto the beach. That’s right, there’s a beach in the middle of Tokyo, one of the most metropolitan places on earth. It’s something bizarre and brilliant in equal measure.
I went for a stroll by myself. It had been such a crazy few weeks this was the first opportunity I had to take in Tokyo and to catch my breath. I did not regret my decision as as I turned at looked back at where I’d come from the buildings were putting on a blazing light show.
I sat there for some time just enjoying the sights the sounds and the breeze. My first full day in Tokyo being over, I was grateful to collapse into a comfortable bed rather than a tent and am pretty sure I was asleep the second my head hit the pillow.