Tokyo, Willer Express, The Great Tokyo Cycling Tour
27.10.2012 - 27.10.2012 -21 °C
We took the Willer Expres bus from Kyoto to Tokyo. For us, it was predominantly a 9 hour snooze-fest (to rest Emma's gammy eye) and monging out to music. We did indulge in a film- Emma plumped for Japanese 'Battleships' and Ashton chose 'Top Gun', it was either that or 'Hula Girl' and at least we knew the premise of the other films!
We rolled in to Tokyo at 7pm and it was all a jumble of sky rise buildings and neon lights, none of the mountainous backdrop of Kyushu. We were on the edge of our seats waiting to get off that bus and into the city!
Despite being the capital, Tokyo has none of the hostility you'd expect from a big city. Despite Ashton almost flattening an old man with her backpack, he still laughed and helped us find the right subway line. In fact, at least 6 people helped us find our hostel, the last couple phoned them up for directions and delivered us directly to the building. We couldn't have been more relieved, our shoulders had nearly sunk into our knees under the weight of our bags.
For our first day, we decided to try and orientate ourselves by doing the Tokyo Great Cycling Tour.
Emma saddling up with a rather stubborn helmet:
And a danger shot from on the road!
The tour took us past the Sumida River to Tsukuda-Jima (an old fisherman's island) where we were (un)lucky enough to try some sugared fish. Under the peer pressure of the cycling pack, we had to down the fish in a one-er with its eyeballs still intact. We couldn't drink enough water to try and get rid of the reidue.
Next was Tokyo's famous Tsukiji Fish Market, where we enjoyed the luxury of strolling around isles of dead fish in their various parts. It looked like the site of an ocean massacre. It doesn't smell as fishy as you think it would though, it just smells quite strongly of the beach.
You have to watch out for the zippy little fish carts transporting fish carcass about the place. You don't want to be mown down by a fish mobile! There are a lot of people hosing instruments down too, so it's best to wear waterproof shoes for the fish puddles on the floor.
It's an odd tourist attraction but the market is really central to Tokyo living. One of the women on the tour said that they employ around 50,000 people at the market, which gives you a scale of how massive the market and fish trade is here.
From there we cycled across a number of bridges looking out at Tokyo bay.
Then a stop at Odaiba where we were provided with a lunch. Unfortunately, their take on a vegetarian meal was lots of vegetables mixed with chicken which was the beginning of a vegetarian-unfriendly day for Emma on the meal front.
This site is a popular place for one dog craze that we had only seen hints of in Japan's other cities. It's the most bizarre, culturally accepted fashion that we have seen so far: The Dog Child.
That pram is specifically for her dogs, they push them to the park to walk them. Amongst other dog fashion faux pas, we have also seen dogs dressed in matching tracksuits to their owners and dogs in nappies. We should also specify that this is not just a fashion for women in Japan, the men are also 100% on board, strutting around with dressed up dogs. It provided much amusement amongst the cycling pack on this tour.
We also stopped at Zoyoji Temple situated next to the Tokyo Tower. This site really demonstrates how the new and old cultures sit together in Japan.
We also visited another temple to climb the 'Stairs of Success'. There were a lot of steep steps to climb so we did feel pretty successful when we reached the top and still upbeat enough to pose for some comedy pictures!
Then onto a park where they were holding a 'Go Green' event with live music and stalls. We stopped here for an iced coffee and a bit of a boogy actually (that was just us two).
We concluded the tour at Tokyo's Imperial Palace (well the outside of it). It's still awesome to look at the beautiful ornate Japanese architecture.
The whole trip was a good start to our Tokyo experience. The tour was really well put together with frequent coffee and biscuit breaks and a beer to finish. We also got to see a lot more of Tokyo this way and enjoyed the company of a really friendly group who made the day really fun.
Cheers to that!