Friday October 9,
Tokyo, Shinjuku, Japan
In the night we wake up at 02:00 am and try to get to sleep again. We do, and wake up near 9:30 and take a shower, have a “ontbijtkoek” and go to the twin observation floors of the Tokyo metropolitan government offices. The view over Tokyo is stunning and we stay there to watch from any angle and take pictures. We can see our hotel just across the parc and mount Fuji also to the west, all in the back of the large metropolitan.
We head to the shopping and eat are, and with all the workers hunting for food too we are not the only ones. We stop at the place we saw the first time when we exited the bus, a day ago. You watch the plastic food, remember the number that is near it and order at a cash machine the food. The ticket you bring inside the place where the cook has you plate ready. You sit at a wall next to others and start eating, apparently the more sound you make the better. We eat our noodles and in the same time next to us, some business man sits eats all his food, some other takes his place and does the same and when the third arrives we are stuffed and quit too. Amazing, they not only sounds fast when they eat, they are fast!
We head to our next experience, the subway of Tokyo. The busiest and largest in the world. We manage to get the tickets and jump on the correct subway heading to Tokyo Palace. Again we notice the efficiency of the Japanese. They line up on the station, the train stops at the exact spot so all doors are in sync with the lines on the ground of the station. People leave thought the right door, and we enter via the left door. Needless to say the train leaves exactly according schedule. The station names are in Japanese, but also in English and have numbers, so its easy to follow and know where to exit. Next to that, in the train there is a route of the train and the station it passes, arrows and lights show where the train moves and what the next station is. It good not be easier.
I notice in the train, everybody is polite, neatly dressed, uses almost always the phone to sms or internet and or have headsets. Never the music or phone is too loud. Never people fight for space or have arguments. All trains have comfortable pillowed seats, are clean, do not smell and do not have a single dot of graffiti on them. Graffiti I have not seen anywhere so far. Nor did I find any trash on the ground.
We walk to the Palace and the only thing you can do is walk around the big walls and water canals. You can get a glimpse of the Palace and we take some pictures. We head to the Palace Gardens. Free admission, but closed on Friday... and err... its Friday today. We didn't know. We had to the Tokyo station and see it is indeed a building with architecture based on the Central Station of Amsterdam. Funny to see. Its even more funny to see, the station is almost all wrapped and fenced because of major re-work and road work, just like in Amsterdam for some years now. Not sure if they know how well they copy the Building and its surrounding ;-) .
We had to the Subway to go back to Shinjuku Station. We buy a large bottle of water, orange juice and banana milk. While waiting for the hotel shuttle bus, I play with my photo camera and shoot people at the station. Always fun to see how people behave, dress and look like. Something also interesting to see is that people do use bicycles and drive on the pavement, next to the pedestrians. Interesting and an other item to check when crossing the streets.
In the Hotel we take a little nap (at least Sheila did, I was writing this journal) from 16:30 to 18:00 and we head to the center again, to hunt down some dinner.
Near Shinjuku Station we roam around and get into one of the very large shopping buildings where on the 8th floor all kind of restaurants are. One of the restaurant we go in and order some food. English is not their native language, I know, but Hello was even difficult it seemed. But they totally make it up with the delicious food, rice with shrimps and white rice with sweet & sour pork. I pronounce and point to “ oy-shi-kat-ta “ which means “It was delicious”. The whole staff smiles. The dinner was interesting too, you get first Japanese tea and a warm towel to clean the hands. With the food we got all kind of plates and cups... which to use for what, right? ;-) We were able to peak at the other tables and got the habits and adjusted our “manners”. Nobody noticed we were noobs at this game, lol. I asked the o-kan-jõ (the bill) and payed with Visa. They add 10% service and do not expect nor want any tip. Giving a tip is seen as embarrassment in Japan, which makes life at the table much easier. We take the shuttle back to the Hotel.
In the Hotel I see an other guest walking with a plastic suite case with some strange gear and a UTP cable in it. That UTP cable triggers me and I ask at the desk what it is. Aha, internet connection set, for the strange sockets in the room, and without charge (they say). I hook up and indeed get connected on my eee PC, phew, so I did not buy this little gadget for nothing. :-) The journals I created I post on the blog. I stop writing, to spent some time on backing up the photos and hey, who knows, I might post some on my Picasa website to share with the family and friends. Check out http://picasaweb.google.com/photokingh .