Saturday, April 18, 2009

Day 3- Kyoto to Tokyo, Japan

Day 3- Kyoto to Tokyo, Japan

As usual we woke up early, this time to go to Tokyo. I was quite excited to use the Shinkansen to get there. The Shinkansen is the Japanese bullet train which reaches speeds of up to 190 miles per hour. We took the Nozomi train on the Tokaido track from Kyoto to Tokyo, direct. The train itself had a futuristic outside (very slanted and white) but the inside was just a more luxurious train. We sat next to a Japanese businessman who told us what towns we were passing and when to look for certain highlights. It was pretty amazing to literally see buildings flash before my eyes. The true highlight was towards the end of the ride (at 12:12, exactly, they were able to tell us ahead of time and were perfectly correct) when we got to see Mt. Fuji. It was a spectacular sight with its white snowy volcano top overshadowing the towns below!

The ride only took a little over two hours and we were hungry by the time we arrived. But, we decided to head to our CAPSULE hotel!!! After a little navigating we made it to the Capsule Inn Akihabara which is in the ‘Electric District’ (its where all the electronic stores are). The lobby was on the first of ten floors. We gave the man our registration and in return he gave us the key to our main lockers as well as the key to the shoe lockers. He told us we could drop our belongings but that we had to be out of there quickly as they were only ‘open’ from 5pm to 10am. We quickly ran upstairs (the 8th floor, which is all women) and dropped off our bags. We also snuck in to check out our capsules. Each one was roughly the length of a twin bed with the width of a full (the entire bottom was mattress). There was enough room to sit up. A TV was mounted to the ceiling of the capsule (although the channels were all in Japanese). Next to the head of the bed was a small ledge to put contacts, etc on, below which was a built in alarm/clock/radio. We also each got a small pillow which was full of pellet like beads (comfortable, but odd).

After putting our shoes back on and exchanging our locker keys for slips of paper with our room number (and paying, it was 4,000 yen or 40 USD) we headed for the Metro Station. We purchased our tickets (the machines worked in English too!) and headed to the platform. Japanese trains are SO timely, it was amazing! We almost never had to wait more than 3 minutes for a train, it was awesome.

We decided to go the Harajuku district which is known for its funky and hip fashion. We were sooo hungry that we decided to get lunch right away. I spotted a lunch special at a pizza place and for 10 USD we each got iced coffee, Caesar salad and pepperoni pizza. It was really yummy!

After our late lunch we headed across the street to Top Shop and some other small (expensive!) boutiques. Neither of us were having much success shopping, but we did see A LOT of Harajuku teens with their crazy spiky hair and extravagant style (boys in heels, but not in a transsexual way, just in an extreme way, its hard to explain). A few were nice enough to let me snap some pictures. After wandering through the busy streets we found an off-street which had a ton of cute, funky and cheap boutiques. Somehow I managed to find the perfect dress for Passover at over 50% off (it was like 3,000 Yen/ 30USD) and it fit perfectly. Brittany found some dresses and shoes and we were on our way!

We decided to walk up the streets (its on a hill) towards Meiji Jingu. It is a Shinto shrine, which is Japan’s ancient religion, void of a founder, holy book or conversion. However, they value nature and virtue. The closest things they have to G-ds are Kami which are divine spirits. One such Kami was the Emperor Meiji who passed in 1912. In commemoration of his life individuals from all over Japan sent trees (100,000 total) which worked to create the forest which we visited. It is considered Tokyo’s grandest shrine.

After walking (for quite a while!) through the forest we passed through a large torii gate (this one was brown and gold) that denoted that we had made it to the actual shrine. The roofs were green and sloping, overshadowing the brown temples that they covered. Once more we cleaned our hands and faces in the fountain, found a little bit of Zen and then walked back to the main street again.

We passed a plethora of fashionable youths before deciding (as the sun finally set) to get some food. We found a conveyor belt sushi restaurant and sat down for dinner. This one was bar style (like ruben’s in Miami) and we sat next to a kid and his father (we think it was his father, we’re not sure). I enjoyed some more roe and tempura while drinking hot green tea (it comes in powder form there, which you mix with the hot water). The kid was pretty funny as he grabbed almost everything that passed by him.  I was much more frugal and ended up with only three small plates worth. It’s amazing how many plates some people had accumulated (10 or more!).

We were pretty tired by the time we left the restaurant and were eager to try out our capsules. The inn was very much alive when we got back. They had the internet on (it was free) and we got to check our email and facebook. We also researched what to do the next day. The shower was divided into individual stalls by curtains, but was very clean. They also had free tap water (it’s the little things in life). I watched YouTube on my Ipod (free wireless) before falling fast asleep (it was noisy at times as there are about 30 capsules on each floor and the door to the balcony was open to let cool air in), but I am a sound sleeper so it was fine.

1 comment:

  1. I would have loved to try out those little capsules to sleep in! That sounds so fun! Was the sushi much different than american?