30.07.2015 - 07.08.2015 35 °C
Before we get started, how much would you expect to pay for a hot café latte in downtown Tokyo? See answer below.
After a fairly seamless 6 hours of train travel from Hiroshima, with a train change at Shin Osaka, we arrived in Tokyo. After some Tokyo city train action, we managed to find our hostel just to the north of Tokyo city centre in Ueno.
The whole train network can be a bit confusing even for the locals, but we managed to find our way around pretty well. The trick is to find the most efficient way and internet is a big help for that. The JR Pass is also a plus as we passed through numerous train barriers without having to pay for individual tickets.
Our first port of call was the 45th floor of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Offices to get a view of the city - we did this on two different days and the photos show the contrast pretty well with pollution evident on the first visit.
We also wanted to see Mt Fuji but not today. Here is what we saw..
Our next stop was "Thomas Town" for Cameron. The boys managed a ride on Thomas (more for Cameron than Lachlan!). Certainly not as big as some of the other places around however it certainly did the trick. We even managed to find a Diesel 10 to take away as a momento.
Back from our Nozawa Onsen adventure and we find ourselves in a hostel not far from where we were. Tania and Cameron headed off to the local supermarket to get supplies while Lachlan and I visited the local temple (Senso-ji) to check out the sites. This temple is surrounded by tall city buildings, not that you feel it when you are there.
The following day we headed off to the Imperial Palace to take in the sights. We ended up checking out the east side but decided to seek some shelter as it was a really hot and humid day and the sun was very strong. We also got some good photos of downtown Tokyo city skyline - the streets are so clean and there is minimal traffic around (due to the awesome train and subway system).
Lachlan found a Pokémon activity (for the school holidays) where you go to various train stations to pick up ink stamps in a book - which we ended up doing.
The boys then picked up a Pokémon book and a Pikachu hat prize once all the stamps had been collected.
The following day we checked out the National Museum of Nature and Science - the boys had a great time learning about everything from dinosaurs to space. There were also animal exhibits and very cool but simple physics displays. The lack of English explanations made things a bit challenging, but it was still fun.
After an ice cream special treat from Shizu and Erina at our hostel, we headed off to Shibuya to visit Shibuya crossing, supposedly one of the busiest streets in the world and also to see the Tokyo city lights.
It doesn't look that busy in the photo, however this street can have 100,000 people cross it every hour. Photos taken from Starbucks - apparently it's the highest grossing Starbucks in the world.
Tan and I found an unbelievable sushi restaurant where you can order your meal on computer and it comes out on a little table via automatic conveyor. So cool, so the future, just so Japanese!
Anyway, back to that coffee. We bought a Starbucks coffee large size for 370 yen, which is about $4.10, on par or cheaper than in Melbourne I think.
Although accommodation has been expensive, we can dispel the myths of Japan being ridiculously expensive. I would put it on par with any Australian capital and in fact we have been able to get meals for the four of us for between $15-25.
We are off to Seoul tomorrow for a week, stay tuned for our next instalment.