Arrival in Tokyo

So I got my flight from Shanghai Pudong to Tokyo Narita on Tuesday morning and landed in Japan around 2 p.m. local time (CET +7). The way to the hostel already revealed the vastness of the world’s largest metropolitan area, however different than I expected. No enormous housing compounds everywhere made of skyscrapers and built overnight. Actually, there are surprisingly few high-risers overall. And the first thing that struck me when I got out of the Asakusa subway station was the calm! After three weeks in China, during the Golden Week and the last days in busy Shanghai, I had the impression that I had arrived in a village… wherein I quickly found my nice and neat hostel shortly before 5 p.m. The staff here is very friendly and my timing was perfect, as the hostel did a little party for the first Anniversary of the establishment. With free delicious food and drinks the celebration was the perfect start of my first evening in Tokyo. I got to know some good folks with whom I ended up in a Karaoke box until dawn.

Feast at the hostel

It was great fun! We got our own private box, paid ¥ 3,300 per person (that’s Japanese Yen and about 40 CHF) and the Karaoke box was our own for the whole night, literally! We were there from 9 p.m. until 5 a.m. with unlimited supply of all kind of drinks, two kind of soups and yummy soft ice with various toppings! Pretty freakin’ amazing!

Our all inclusive Karaoke Box

Next day for more or less obvious reasons my physical condition did not allow me to do that much, as most of the daylight had to be sacrificed for sleep. And that it’s getting dark around 5 p.m. doesn’t really help. Still I went to stroll around Asakusa in the afternoon, the city district around the hostel, home of the famous Senso-ji, a Buddhist temple.

Laterns at the Senso-ji temple

On Thursday I headed for Akihabara, also dubbed Akihabara Electric Town. That’s because in the area you can find tons of small shops and large multi-level stores filled with all kind of electronic equipment. You can spend hours in there, if you can somehow fade out the continuous sensory overload with dazzling signs everywhere and permanent acoustic irradiation from the equipment on display, the sales people, the announcements, the latter of course accompanied by catchy music. Wonderful! Luckily Switzerland is pretty competitive with electronics prices, so that apart from the sheer amount of stuff on display the temptation to buy is not really there, at least price wise.
The district is also the origin and home of numerous so called Maid cafés, however the visit of such an establishment is still pending. I’m told that it’s very funny and takes getting used to, but it is as many other things in the Japanese Culture something that really intrigues me. For what these cafés exactly are and how they’re embedded in the culture I refer to the all-knowing wiki-site. Of course I’ll share my impressions as soon as I’ll have gathered some.

On Chuo Dori in Akihabara

Instead I put my feet into another interesting place: Adult Amusement Park. Well, it’s not a park at all, it’s just a store over 5 floors in one of these typical narrow buildings here in Tokyo. This provided be an insight with a twist as you can buy there what the name suggests, and more. Claims are that what can be found there has nothing to do with what’s going on in those Maid cafés. Somehow I have trouble believing this, maybe I’ll be able to make a better judgement when I’ll have been there.

As mentioned before, it gets dark quite early. One of the advantages is that you don’t have to wait so long to take night shots, so that’s what I did. And it was a rainy day anyway, making the daylight pictures rather dull. That’s another good thing about night shots, there’s no sun to begin with, so it’s irrelevant if it’s cloudy 🙂

Financial District Manurouchi at Night
Harumi Dori next to Tokyo Station

So these are some of my impressions of my first 48 hours in Tokyo! More to come soon!

Yoroshiku onegai shimasu!

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