Kyou wa, Peter-san wa Doko?

Where's Peter Today?

6th--7th Oct 2004: Day 1--Tokyo

We made it to Heathrow in plenty of time, thanks to the help of my father who ran us down there.

There was a delay of about 45 minutes on our flight where we had to wait on the tarmac for a take-off slot but the pilot compensated during the flight and with a favourable tail wind, we landed in the clear and sunny skies of a Thursday morning in Tokyo.

We got through customs and immigration without a hitch and the airport was eerie in it's deserted nature. Where was everyone? We collected our Japan Rail Passes that allow unlimited travel on the hyper efficient trains and sat in a completely empty first class carriage for the first leg of the trip to Tokyo. At the other airport terminal a handful of people joined us but that was it, except for the woman who boarded the train with a trolley of snacks and drinks - a common sight on Japanese trains.

Arriving even at Tokyo main station we were surprised to see so few people milling about. On the upper levels of the station there were more people but it still looked like a paradise of calm when compared to the crammed to bursting point London Underground. Still, it was about mid-day and the rush hour was over.

Tokyo's metro system is very confusing as there are several stations that are so big that you can walk underground from one to the other, in some kind of bizarre alternative city. The multiple entrances pop up on the surface like rabbit holes and all have the same name of the station so that if you are trying to navigate the surface roads by metro stations you keep seeing the same station names as you walk and so aren't quite sure where you are!

After a couple of detours, we found the hotel and prepared to go out for the rest of the day to check out Ginza, the shopping and eating playground of central Tokyo. Among the high class Cartier shops and so on we found a massive toy shop and the undoubted star of the shop was the "Near Me" robotic pet cat.  Outside in the windows, a simulated cattery displayed the robotic pets with messages written to encourage potential "owners" to adopt the computerised felines…

The place really comes alive after dark and we finally washed up at a set of cheap eateries in a railway arch in a back road near Shinbashi railway station at the southern end of Ginza. The place was heaving and very popular with local businessmen and women. The place could fill up with the smoke from the grills at times though. We began to wonder who was really being smoked - the fish or the customers!

The Japanese love to eat and drink after work and some don't quite make it home but the streets are always quiet and there is no trouble. A drunk businessman stopped to help us while we were looking at our maps but as he didn't know were he was let alone how we should get back to our hotel, he didn't help much. But he was such an amiable fellow, that we couldn't help but like him and let him ramble on about some random directions to a completely different part of town.

Luckily, the GPS locator I'd programmed with the way-point for our hotel guided us faithfully home. Tomorrow, it's a train down towards Nagoya but hopefully via a stop near Mount Fuji to perhaps hire a car for the day and go for a drive in the mountains…

Jump To:


Prepare For Take-Off

Day 1 -- Tokyo

Day 2 -- Mikawa-Anjo

Day 3 -- Nagoya

Day 4 -- Suzuka F1

Day 5 -- Kyoto

Day 6 -- Kyoto

Day 7-- Himeji Castle

Day 8 -- Kurashiki

Day 9 -- Hiroshima

Day 10 -- Nagasaki

Day 11 -- Nagasaki

Day 12 -- Kagoshima

Day 13 -- Kagoshima

Day 14 -- Tokyo

Day 15 -- Tokyo

Day 16 -- Tokyo

Homeward Bound

View the day's photos