Our last day in Japan started with a relaxing breakfast in the club lounge. Perched atop Shinjuku we enjoyed poached eggs and granola. Chatting to the staff and saying goodbye to the egg chef. He remembered our order each day, such creatures of habit we are.
After breakfast we packed. Everything fitted in nicely across three bags and we checked out, stored our bags and went out for a few hours.
This time of a trip is the weirdest. You really have no place where you live for a few hours with no bags, no room key and thousands of miles from your real home.
We headed out to Shibuya, we’d only quickly visited a few days ago at night, so walking the streets during the day was a new experience.
We headed into the tiny winding streets that spiralled away from the station. Mardi was looking for a nail salon, which we found, but they were fully booked. We then looked around a little more and happened on a five story DVD/vinyl/cd store. I perished the old vinyl looking for some interesting, unique Pink Floyd stuff. I found a few CDs, closer inspection suggested they were bootlegs. But I bought a few anyway. Who knows what little gems I may have found. They certainly were covers I’d never seen so I’m thinking they were bootlegs.
We then wandered a little more before picking a random place for lunch. A second floor restaurant in a rickety building with a different restaurant on each of its five floors. Mardi matched the menu pictures and icons to the map and we found it. Interestingly there were iPads on each of the tables, in Japanese of course. I fiddled with one and apparently ordered some food.
Some quick waving of our hands and the staff produced menus for Aussies – big pictures of food we could point at. We picked a couple of things st random and our waiter tapped away at the iPad. Ten minutes later our meals arrived. An $8 feast. Rice, chicken, soup, dumplings. Some deliciously hot chilli sauce added to the flavours.
We sat and watched the crowd order, chat, eat and leave. We eventually left and continued our walk. Tokyo Hands was a popular place, 9 stories of pretty much anything and everything. Fish, live the inside tank kind, furniture, stationery, clothes, leather goods, travel needs, art supplies.
I picked up a nice pair of walking shoes and we grabbed a few little last minute gifts.
As time passed we decided to get the train back to the hotel to grab our bags and get to the airport.
We sorted out tickets on the Narita Express on the way back, worked out where to go to the train, remembering how big and confusing Shinjuku station is and once we were clear, walked to the hotel to grab bags and return.
It was a slow walk back with three bags, a broken wheel and a couple of back packs but we made it. We boarded our train with plenty of time to spare and were soon at Narita.
The usual bag drop, customs, security, immigration checks all went smoothly and we were seated in the lounge with about 90 minutes to relax before our flight.
A great trip. The first few days were daunting as we gradually improved our understanding and familiarity of Tokyo and its prefectures. What sticks with me is the stark difference from day to night in each of the places we visited. The politeness of the locals was obvious, but there is also a set of rules which can’t be broken. The Japanese certainly don’t live with a she’ll be right mate attitude. But their courtesy, politeness and willingness to please is second to none.
The highlight for me was on Sunday. Standing atop a mountain, shrouded in cloud with a shrine the only thing in my field of view. The cold, the quiet, the stillness, the serenity. It was a great moment. The other highlight was the bustling Shibuya cross walk at night. The heaving crowd seemed to move in a way that was both unrehearsed and symphonically perfect. Everyone knowing exactly where they were going and what they were doing, but at a macro level the vision resembled a frenzied ants nest.
All in all a great six days, just enough to get to taste Tokyo in a degustation style. We may have to visit again for the full al la carter menu some time soon.