Asakusa & Shinjuku
Day 2 started at 5am when due to jet lag I woke up and couldn’t get back to sleep. Thinking Juna would be asleep I just chilled for a few hours till we had to check out, turns out she did the same. It took us just a couple of minutes to get to the station but 40 minutes to buy the right ticket and find the correct train, we went through 3 tickets and one wrong station but we finally made it to Shinjuku. Once again the locals went out of their way to help us find our way.
After leaving our bags at our hostel we were starving so jumped into the first food place we saw. It was a small, friendly ramen place with just a couple of people working. All the menu was in Japanese and the waitress couldn’t speak English so we ended up pointing at random dishes. It all worked out well in the end though as I ended up with a delicious Yaki-Soba type dish. The only problem was I was given chopsticks, despite trying my best, the chef still ran from the kitchen to give me a fork to save on further embarrassment.
After exploring the area we were able to check in, although a previous customer had left with the key to our room so we just have the one. The room isn’t quite a capsule hotel and I think a bit of creative license has been used to advertise the place. Still at least I have a bed, and we’ll spend most of our time exploring rather than in the hostel.
Shinjuku is famous for its nightlife in Japan and it didn’t let us down. To get there we went a couple of stops on the subway during rush-hour which was an experience I’ll never forget, but not one I’m in a hurry to do again.
When we got out of the station the sheer size and enormity of Tokyo fully hit home. We could barely see a patch of sky through all the high rise buildings. One of those buildings was a 6 storey high arcade. The minute we stepped in it was a surreal experience. Business men letting their hair down on the dance mats, teenagers cheering each other on and many in a trance with complete focus. We chose our first game to be Mario Kart which came with a full steering wheel and pedals, luckily we both won so there were no tantrums.
We decided to end the night with a drink and try Sake for the first time (and my last). We selected an empty bar in Golden Gai. A region made up of 6 alleys and 200 bars with each bar having an average capacity of 5 people. By the end of the night we had been talking to a couple of Tokyo locals for over two hours exchanging what little Japanese we know with their English. One of the men lives at a temple and conducts tea ceremonies and the other an ex pro-boxer. They were extremely friendly and even wanted to know our view on Brexit!
Knowing what we’re like with directions we left with plenty of time to find the station to get the last train home. Unfortunately for us we bumped into 2 American guys also heading to the station. Despite declaring they knew the way, we got extremely lost and missed our last trains and headed off our separate ways to walk home. Overall a brilliant and knackering day, hopefully more of the same tomorrow!