Continuation of A Canadian in Japan: My First Time in Tokyo Day 1
I needed to get a new Canadian passport, so I decided to make the trip to Tokyo and get it done in person. I had never been to Tokyo and so I was quite excited. I live in Ohtsu, which is a medium size city in Shiga prefecture, which is a fairly quiet, rural area. I grew up on a mall island off a small city in Canada, and big cities really arent my cup of tea. Regardless, I was determined to enjoy my time in Tokyo. I took 3 days off from work at my school (SSE Ohtsu), booked the night bus (return trip was about Y12000), and was on my way.
Day 2: I went by subway to Akasaka station in search of the Canadian Embassy. Unfortunately, I read the map wrong and the embassy is actually at Akasaka station but rather at Subway Aoyama 1-Chome Station. So I had a 20 minute walk in the blazing sun before reaching the embassy. All my feeling of homesickness were wash away as I entered a Canadian oasis in the center of Tokyo. To my surprise, the security guards and staff were all Japanese, and all spoke fluent English AND French! I rather enjoyed my time in the embassy and was reluctant to leave…
Next, I went to Koenji in the western part of Tokyo. Koenji is famous for its large variety of used goods shops, everything from used CD’s and vinyl to used clothes, shoes and even furniture. In Koenji I met up with Ken from Smith’s School of English Koenji, and we had tea and a nice chat, before heading out for lunch. Ken’s english school in Koenji is perfectly located between 3 stations and is within walking distance of all three. His school was clean and quiet and had great atmosphere that I’m certain promotes studiousness in his students! For lunch, Ken took me to an all-you-can-eat italian restaurant in Shinjuku: a huge spread of delicious delicacies greeted us as we entered, and we never looked back. Ken also wrote a nice post about my visit to his English school in Koenji, you can read it HERE.
After lunch, we met up with an old university friend who is in Japan for a 4 month work/study program at TUMSAT in Shinagawa. Together we wandered around Shinjuku with Ken as our guide. He showed us a replica Empire State Building, a very busy Krispy Kreme and he took us up the Tokyo Metropolitan Tower for a spectacular view. In contrast with Tokyo Tower, the Tokyo Metropolitan Tower viewing area was higher, had a better view, was quieter and more relaxing and it was FREE! I highly recommend this for all tourists, especially frugal ones like myself. Afterwords, Ken showed us a huge beautiful chandellier in the neighbouring hotel’s lobby. We said goodbye to Ken and my friend and I took the Yamanote Line to Shibuya.
I was told that Shibuya is the heart of Tokyo. It has the busiest intersection in Japan. Most people’s image of Japan probably includes this intersection, as it is highlighted in countless documentaries, music videos, movies, magazine articles and so on. What makes this intersection so great? It’s huge, it’s busy, it’s crazy, and all the traffic lights change to red at the same time (all the pedestrians cross at the same time!). On top of this (literally and figuratively) there are 6-8 huge TV screens running ads 24/7 and at night the whole place is lit up light a big 6-way christmas tree. Shibuya has all the big chains, all the popular fashion shops, hundreds of nightclubs and restaurants as well as quaint little one-of shops and boutiques. I’m pretty sure that night EVERYONE in Japan was there, because it was crowded. And it was only Monday!
The crowning gem of the day was finding a huge Book-Off in the heart of Shibuya which contained a vast English book section. I bought a dozen books for the library at my English school, not of which cost more than 200 yen. Great deal… unfortunately I then had to carry them for the rest of the night and the next day! We finished day 2 with a walk from Shibuya to Harajuku (which I have wanted to visit ever since Gwen Stefani started promoting her Harajuku [dance] girls and their Harajuku style!). The walk took us past a cute little castle (actually a day-care facility) and Tokyo’s Disney on Ice arena. Harajuku itself was unfortunately closed down for the night, but we still enjoyed walking around the main shopping streets (apparently Harajuku is a daytime place, so if you go there I recommend you go during the day- Shibuya definitely has more of a night scene).
Oh, and I almost forgot…. we went to Rainbow Bridge in Odaiba. I was just asking my friend what was special about Rainbow Bridge when we saw a fantastic rainbow…. which happened to end on Rainbow Bridge! (See picture above- sorry about the splicing, I don’t have a fancy camera so I had to do it manually!)
Day 2 was spent on the west side of Tokyo, and as a day trip, Shinjuku-Harajuku-Shibuya definitely provide enough to see and do in a day (or two!).
Next up: A Canadian in Japan: My First Time in Tokyo Day 3. Check it out!
Edward, SSE Ohtsu