Sunday, March 28

Korea-Japan, Day Six: Checking Out The Locals

We headed out relatively early, looking to get a lot of Tokyo city done today. We started with Harajuku and its surroundings, just north of Shibuya.

We first headed to the Meiji Shrine. To be honest I've no idea what the significance of this particular shrine was but it was as nice a shrine as any I suppose. Perhaps it was because it was a Sunday, but we witnessed a couple of weddings happening too which was nice. After we were done looking around, we headed south of the Shine to the adjoining Yoyogi Park.

Yoyogi Park is a typical inner city park, and that Sunday morning it was filled with joggers, picnic makers and others looking to soak up what little sun they could find. We had come to Japan during the cherry blossom season, and although there was no way for us to tell what a normal level of activity was, it seemed especially busy this morning.

To the south east of Yoyogi is Jingubashi, or bridge, famed for hosting a variaty of cosplaying girls and boys each Sunday. We didn't really see many that morning though; we figured that it was still early and so moved on to Takeshita Dori (or street). This was the "trendy" part of town (think Camden) although it was way too busy for me to detect any specific vibe. We then walked down Ometosando, where the shops were less trendy and more western, and spent a while in the toy shop Kiddieland. I didn't grab much; a horrendous rate (135 compared to last year's 220 or so) means that I won't be spending much this holiday.

Toward the afternoon we headed to the business district of Shinjuku, purely to take the not-so-short walk to the Tokyo metropolitan government building one, two 243 metre tall towers, each with their own (free) observatory. It was still day, and visibility was low but we got a good enough sense of Tokyo regardless.

The night was spent in Roppongi for dinner. We had a reservation at Gonpachi, the place which allegedly inspired the final scene in the first Kill Bill but as a restaurant it wasn't that special (although a special nod does go to the fatty tuna we had there. At six quid a piece we were expecting something good).

As we spend more time with the locals we're noticing more of their cute idiosyncrasies. They're extremely clean and hygienic for one thing. As you probably know most toilets have bidets built in, and the streets are wonderfully clean with no gum, litter or dog poo to be seen (despite there not being many litter bins around). But you'll often find sanitising gel at entrances to shops and things, and a good number of people on the street wear face masks to protect themselves from foreign germs. But best of all was the way we saw a train attendant wipe down ticket machines after they were being used - whether this was just at that time or if it was a continuous process I don't know, but I certainly wasn't offended when he wiped down the machine after I had used it myself.

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