Monday, May 13, 2013


It is a long flight directly back from the UK to New Zealand and you always have to stop on the way to refuel. So we decided to take the opportunity to check out Tokyo for a couple of days. Aaron had studied Japanese (briefly) in highschool and can count to 10, but otherwise we were relying on pointing and a few English signs (not quite as many as we had hoped).

We managed to negotiate the subway and navigate our way to the hotel, even in a relatively sleep deprived state. After checking in we went out to find some food. None of the local restaurants had English menus or anyone to translate - but thankfully they did have pictures of most of the dishes... so we just guessed what they might be. The next evening we found a sushi train, much easier to negotiate, just pick off what you want and stack up the plates...
Sushi Train

So we spent a couple of days visiting many tourist sights in Tokyo - lots of old temples and shrines, beautiful Japanese gardens, the national museum and experiencing some of the modern buildings and towers... including the rather crazy electric toilet seats with their flushing sounds and various types of showers to wash your behind - yours for a cool 38900 yen at the airport electronics shop.

Sensoji Temple

5 storey pagoda

The large lanterns at the gate of Sensoji Temple - Helen for scale

The brand new Skytree tower - the tallest in the world - 634 m 

 The view from the 45th Floor of the Tokyo Metropolitan Building

Tokyo Metropolitan Building

Japanese garden in Shenjuku Gardens 

 View from the Taiwan pavillion in Shenjuku Gardens

Tokyo Tower with fancy light display - the same but a little bit taller than the Eiffel Tower in Paris 

One thing that struck us about Tokyo was that there were lots of bikes - people riding everywhere including women balancing up to 3 kids on the same bike. There were lots of pot plants on the pavements/sidewalks  - I assume because most people don't have gardens. It was also very clean and we barely saw and litter and no graffiti. Also after the traffic jams of Phoenix and Aberdeen, there was no obvious congestion in the city - possibly because lots of people ride bikes or take the public transport. Then there are the vending machines on the street corners - mostly selling cold drinks, but also cigarettes and alcohol.

After a busy trip and 2 days of full on sightseeing around Tokyo we were completely exhausted and slept most of the flight back to New Zealand. Happy to get home - even if it is winter - cold, wet and gets dark at 5pm.

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