Bright eyed and bushy tailed after a good night’s sleep, I was ready to go exploring again around Tokyo, city of wonders. With so much to see and only a few days to do it all in I was determined to get the most out of my time starting with the Electric City.
This area is full of colourful sky scrapers plastered with anime characters and shops filled to the brim with technology. If you’re looking to get your hands on the latest gadget or just to find a bargain, you won’t be disappointed.
This area is iconic. It’s everything you imagine modern Tokyo to be, garish in its technological advancement.
However, for a culture that is famous for its politeness and the importance it places on respect, the prevalence of pornography in Tokyo, and in the electric city in particular, shocked me.
I know that the anime industry thrives on a incredibly sexual, lets go as far as sexist, representation of women but I didn’t expect to see these characters blown up and plastered across sky scrapers. I also didn’t expect to see so many sex shops and maid cafes. Yep, they have cafes in which you go in and are served by girls in French maid outfits – and you thought Hooters was bad. Maybe this is naive of me but it did catch me off guard.
To prepare for an afternoon of retail therapy we found a little restaurant to grab some lunch. It didn’t look like much from the outside, you will soon realise that most restaurants look pretty similar in Tokyo, plastered with pictures of the food they serve over the outside. We entered, we sat, we all chose the same meal and we waited.
What we got however, was far from ordinary. I am happy to say without hesitation this simple lunch that cost us about £5 each was one of the best meals I had the entire time I was in Japan. Miso soup, rice, noodles with pork and green beans and two dumplings. Doesn’t sound all that flash but it was the flavours – ok, I’m drooling. Seriously, I’m annoyed I didn’t get the name of the place so that I can give them a proper recommendation because they thoroughly deserve it. It was like walking into a greasy cafe in England and being served Michelin star food and I’m not even exaggerating.
Feeling incredibly satisfied we spent the rest of our day browsing the technological wonders and tat shops that the electric city has to offer.The evening was relaxed with nothing much to report so lets skip ahead to the next day…
The day was spent waving off the British Scouts as they departed Japan and headed back to the UK which meant by the evening we had our last opportunity to have some time together as a team as many of us were heading home in the early hours the next day.
All of us, feeling a little more human now out of our polo shirts and neckers headed back to the sky tree to get the alternate experience of the Tokyo cityscape once the sun had dipped.
What had been an expansive but fairly bland view on my first time at the top of this incredible structure was suddenly illuminated into a mirage of bright lights as far as the eye could see.
Once back down on ground level we had a fantastic dinner plan lined up. We went to a sumo restaurant. Yep sumo restaurant! We ate the diet of sumo restaurants of lean meat and vegetables cooked on gas burners in front of us.
In the middle of the restaurant is a huge sumo ring that often homes live demonstrations.
Unfortunately there were no matches scheduled for that evening but I had seen live sumo earlier so I thought you’d appreciate that view…
Of course, no trip to Japan would not be complete without karaoke. We piled back to our hotel’s karaoke bar and happily sang our lungs out until the early hours.
I forced myself to stay until the coach came to collect us at 5.30am (if I’d slept I would have quite honestly missed my plane). The next few weeks I had the worst jet lag I’ve ever experienced but now that I’m back to my normal self I’m incredibly grateful to have been given the opportunity to see this fantastically brilliant (and slightly bizarre) country and knowing that all the young people that we took with us had an experience that they will remember for the rest of their lives makes it all the more special!