Japan Trip II – Tokyo Journey

After 7 back-breaking days in Japan, our holiday is coming to an end. Mentally super-satisfying. Physically super-tiring (backache, cracked dried lips, blisters on toes, dried dehydrated skin, flu etc). Financially? Surprisingly, we didn’t spend a lot. All my colleagues and friends told me to prepare more yen (they estimated SGD6,000 = Y400K for the family). Guess what, I only spent 20% of that amount. For the 7 days in Japan, Felicia, Elkan and me spent SGD1,300, mostly on food, entrance tickets and transport. We didn’t spend much on shopping as we aren’t shopaholic.

This is a great trip for us. And it is good to have Tracy and Harshad with us – especially having them with us counting down to 2010! (The more the merrier, isn’t it?) The itinerary is excellent – we have good time for each location. We have covered 95% of the "hot-spots" on our list.  My only regret is that we skipped Kyoto and all those notorious kinky joints. Most importantly, we managed to meet up with 2 groups of friends (my Secondary School friend, Sharon Yap and Polytechnic friends, Martin, Doreen and their partners!) Mmmm…speaking of that, Kitty (my ex-colleague in HK) who stayed in the same hotel as us just went MIA. We were supposed to meet in Tokyo.

Toyko is the city of many world records – both previous and current. (World’s Tallest Steel Tower, Busiest Subway Station, Fastest Train, Longest Escalator etc). It is no wonder why so many of my friends love this place and made so many return visits to this colourful, intriguing city. And I have faithfully uploaded all those beautiful shots onto my blog in the past 2 days. And here are the key highlights of our Toyko Journey! Enjoy! (We will be flying home in the next 5 hours)

Here are our Top 9 favourite Moments in Tokyo:

I regarded this as the tourist attraction of the 70s. But it is a must-see for those who are in Tokyo. It is a short 2-hour scenic bus ride from Tokyo city. Along the way, you get to see the "country-side life" of Japan. The tallest mountain in Japan and last erupted in 1708, Mount Fuji is spectacular…it is well-balanced 360, beautifully sloped and toned.

Coined as one of the "Fashion Centers" of Japan, Shibuya is often remembered by its massive wide 4-intersection pedestrian-crossings (as shown in the movie "Lost in Translation" and the reality show "The Amazing Race"). This is one of the most popular shopping spots for the young Japanese people and the tourists. Also, do check out one of the infamous street of Shibuya – Dogenzaka – it is an alley of love-hotels that comes with really creative-looking rooms – some are decorated in the "Hello Kitty theme. The image of "love-hotels" changed drastically over the years. Patrons and visitors are looking for novetly than just sneaky sex. For those who want to take a break (after hours of shopping), you may want to bring your lover here for a quickie recharge (at SGD20/hour)! If not, just come and look around.

It is a major commercial and administration center of Tokyo city. It has a mix of everything (shopping, gaming, sex-clubs, IT-Malls etc). Yes, this is where you find Tokyo’s red light district, Kabukicho. Mmm..maybe this is also why you find the world’s busiest subway station – over 3.5 million passengers with over 200 exits! According to Wiki, Shinjuku has the highest numbers of registered foreign nationals of any community in Tokyo. As of October 1, 2005, 29,353 non-Japanese with 107 different nationalities were registered in Shinjuku (majority are Korean and Chinese). In a nutshell, 1 out of 10 resident in Shinjuku is a foreigner. Clearly, Jackie Chan’s last movie "The Shinjuku Incident" didn’t really do justice to this place, it is certainly larger than some mere Chinese-Taiwanese street/chop-off hand gang fights. Jackie failed to mention about the Koreans and 100 over nationalities.

An artificial island built in the 1850s as a defence fortress to guard the coast, Odaiba is a great spot to view the spectacular "Rainbow Bridge" and a replica of the "Statue of Liberty" (which was erected in 1998 in commemoration of "The French year in Japan"). It is also the home of the Fuji TV Station (you see fans waiting outside the gates) and a big mall – the Aqua City Shopping Center.

Ueno is home to some of Tokyo’s finest cultural sites. Over here, you find a high concentration of museums and Japanese temples. It is incredible how a small area like this can accommodate so many cultural buildings, including a zoo! We also saw a couple of old homeless people sleeping in the park. (According to Wiki: The Ueno Park and Ueno Station are also home to a large percentage of Tokyo’s homeless population. Though nearly invisible in other parts of Tokyo, the homeless population in Ueno can be found sleeping or communing in large numbers around the "ike" (ponds) of this district.)

The Orchard Road of Japan – this is one of Tokyo’s most expensive real-estates. Here, you find all the flagship stores of many international posh brands. It is also home to the first Apple Shop in Asia. There are a couple of interesting landmarks that you must see. Discover for yourself!

Akihabara Electic Town is a geek’s heaven! This place is well known for its streets of endless IT Gadgets, Anime, toys, robots, games, cosplay and erotic toys! Buildings after buildings, floors after floors – it is THE PLACE for geeks like me! One of the main attractions here is the "@Home Cafe" – a cosplay-theme cafe where you can have lots of fun with the "cute, sweet, kinkyless maids". It is more for the fun experience and certainly not for the food (it sucks).

The Tokyo Tower is the world’s tallest self-supporting steel structure and it is 13m taller than its more famous cousin, The Eiffel Tower of Paris. Despite being taller than the Eiffel Tower, Tokyo Tower is 57% (3,000 tons) lighter (due to the advance in steel manufacturing and construction technology). It is more than just a "observatory tower", its main function is transmitting TV/Radio signals (a total of 24 broadcasting waves) to the residents of Tokyo.

The final spot goes to the place where our hotel (Hotel Metropolitan) was. Ikebukuro is the 2nd busiest train station in Japan and houses several extremely large shopping centers and entertainment streets. It was also once housed the world’s tallest building, longest escalator and biggest shopping mall. The only record which stands today is The Sunshine International Aquarium – it is the world’s highest aquarium (sitting on the 10th floor of the Sunshine City building).

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