Travel Report Tokyo

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Travel Report Tokyo

one stop on Wendy's & Joe's world tour 2004/05



Kind of travel: Travelling alone
Year of this voyage: 2004
Author's age: 30-45 years

Journal Update 13th March 2004 / Tokyo, Japan
Tokyo is a complete sensory overload of neon colour, big screen graphics, alien sounds and the smell of street vendors hawking various sweet pancakes, barbeque meats and smoked fish. Every second you are bombarded with something new and exciting. We are staying in Shibuya which is an Asian version of a cross between Covent Garden in London and SOHO in New York. The place seems less congested and polluted than London and even though it is loud and hectic there is a certain underlying Zen calm about the place. We are sitting in our little room in Hotel Fukudaya, which is a traditional Japanese inn called a Ryokan. Joe is really happy as he has discovered that beer can be purchased out of a vending machine for about 60 p and he had made himself busy sampling all the local brews. I am drinking warm saki, which is making my cheeks go bright pink!

The place we are in is about the same size as the little flat we left behind in London with a tiny half size bath tub with sliding doors and rush matting on the floor. The futons are really comfortable and each day they layout Japanese pajamas for you to sleep in. The place is run by several old ladies and chaps with a combined age of about 400 who have as you would have imagined taken a great big shine to Joe. The jet lag really kicked in for the first couple of nights and the first night at Shibuya Station was a real 'Lost in Translation' experience.

Joe's main observations have been that all the girls wear very impractical high shoes that they can't walk in. Kitten heels are really popular. Also the school girls wear their skirts very, very short! All the clothing shops are European or American - the vintage shops sell mainly Levis. We saw some 50s dead stock jeans today for 285,000 yen, which is about 1,500 pounds!
Today we have been walking around Harajuku which is kind of like Camden. We have seen the bright orange girls with their fake tan and very dodgy make up, a few school girls in their cool school girl outfits and countless rocker types though no Japanese Mods, although we have seen a few Vespas about.

Everyone has been extremely helpful and polite particularly when we were trying to navigate around the train system for the first time. Not only will people give you directions they will actually walk you to where you need to go. We are still recovering from the flight which in the end lasted around 15 hours because we had two aborted landings at Narita airport. The pilot took the plane into a steep climb twice and a lot of the passengers we sick. Joe started to practice the brace position and reading his safety card which I found reassuring.
The food is fantastic; we have been trying out the sushi and tempura though we have made a few mistakes. Joe bought some dog meat stuff topped with a smoked fish type stuff yesterday and also committed the cardinal sin of a McDonalds.
Money is okay - Tokyo isn't as expensive as London and we eat pretty cheaply. Hopefully it will be easier to find web cafes and use them in the rest of Asia. Here it is difficult as the interface is all in Japanese and the first email I sent was using a Japanese keyboard so I am not surprised it came out so weird. Weather here is very sunny and spring like it gets chilly later on in the day but on the whole we have been lucky with the weather.

Journal Update 15th March 2004 / Tokyo, Japan
We took the Shikansen (Bullet Train) out of Tokyo today to a place called Hakone in the mountains. It was the most incredible journey by mountain train then up by cable car to the volcanic springs. The whole place smelt of farty sulphur and the little place at the top of the hill was selling blackened eggs cooked in the boiling hot springs. After much deliberation we decided to buy a bag of eggs to give them a go. We had a couple and decided we didn't want to get egg bound so we decided to take the rest back for the old lady at the hotel. Unfortunately the eggs didn't survive the journey in Joe's rucksack and started to smell a bit off so we had to dump them. Hakone was a nice antidote to the madness of Shibuya, particularly sitting in a mountain village with the sun on our backs and the only sound the sound of wooden wind chimes. A gaggle of school girls passed by and all started to wave at Joe to which he shouted out Hello Girls! To which they all started laughing hysterically for some odd reason.

We had a cup of warm saki and continued our journey down to the lake where we took a very tacky tourist boat across which looked like a Disney Spanish style Galleon. All this climbing and walking is really knackering and we are shattered. Joe says we are going to be fit as a Butcher's dog after this trip.

Yesterday we found the coolest place in Tokyo which is an area called Daikanyama it is one stop on the metro away from where we are staying. The shops are great particularly for vintage American clothing and contrary to popular belief they aren't as expensive as you would imagine. I managed to buy a whole outfit for about 20 pound yesterday; a pair of Japanese dungarees for two pounds 50; Mui Mui style sandals and a 2nd hand Paul and Joe top. Joe's observations for the day are - That Hakone stinks of pumps! Just about everyone apart from babies smoke. You can get by on about 50 quid a day, not all Japanese are vertically challenged, oh, and it is 37 degrees currently in Bangkok (looking forward to that). We are off home for a warm bath in our half size tub and a Subway Sandwich and of course copious amounts of beer.

Our last day in Tokyo and I think Joe is going to have a heart attack after all those months of lying in bed. We started the morning off at 5 am and went to the fish market (Tsukiji) which all the guide books rave about. It was incredibly frenetic with lots of men in wellies and rubber aprons. Joe got into it but the only thing I took away from it was that my new Nike shoes now stink of kippers. It was fun to see all the commuters on their way to work half asleep. We were in hysterics at a guy sitting opposite who was seriously out of it asleep with one eye open, dribbling into his lap holding a racing magazine called Gollop. Joe remarked that he didn't hink the guy had ever 'golloped' anywhere in his life!

Joseph Brilus
Joseph Brilus

Wendy Brierley
Wendy Brierley


We decided to blow the deposit for a house on a grand world tour through 2004. We booked through STA travel and put together a brief itinerary including the Far East, Australia, New Zealand and the USA. As it turned out we experienced China, Bali, Fiji and many more places in between.

We decided to end the trip with a wedding in Las Vegas (which was very memorable!) As a wedding present my brother put together an on-line travel blog for us which was a great tool for documenting our journey. This experience truly changed our lives and we encountered many fantastic people through out the world. I hope you enjoy reading some highlights of our journal!

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The afternoon was much more my scene (shallow window shopping), with a walk around the coolest shops in the world, in the district of Daikanyama next to Shibuya. Bramshaw Road residents, Paul, Reuben and Pascale would love it here as it very French and sophisticated. There are great vintage shops, selling old Biba posters; Fames; furniture; and loads of French labels. The place is so style obsessed there are even shops dedicated to doggy clothing with little jumpers and hats for them. 60s icon Twiggy is massive over here and they even have a cash point card and magazine dedicated to her. I picked up some very cool little miniature Twiggy dolls (Mum expect a package in the next few weeks!). We finished the day in Ginza which is the centre of the world as far as we are concerned. This is blade runner - Like Shibuya but 10 times the scale. We checked out the Sony building to see the latest gadgets and Joe got some snaps of the Aibo dogs. We finished the night back at hotel Fukudaya with hot saki and a bento box.

Wendy Brierley

a further stop on Wendy's & Joe's world tour 2004/05

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World Tour Travel Reports from Wendy & Joe:
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Travel Report Tokyo