First impressions were good. Lots of signs translated into English and people seemingly genuinely pleased to help. There are lots of staff at the airports and stations etc. Standing ready to provide information and once you settle into things it is without doubt the easiest country to negotiate my way around that I've been in so far. That said it's really, really expensive! Each country I go to seems to be more than the last which doesn't bode well!
I loved the capsule hotel at the airport. It was really slick, spotlessly clean, ordered and did exactly what it said on the tin. Just gutted it is fully booked for the night before I fly out. I can't believe the toilets! I know I sound like every other tourist but I can't get over how pristine and complicated they are, with all sorts of functions I couldn't have dreamed up - they play music, have heated seats and numerous other functions involving squirting water! Also, all the places I've stayed so far, provide toiletries, toothbrush sets, hairbrushes etc. All in little individual packets - so cute and orderly.
SHINJUKU - Downtown Kinkakukico
I was helpfully told to stay in Shinjuku as it was where everything happened. After some internet research I found a nice hotel which proved to be functional, not too far from the station I arrived in but a bit tricky to find whilst carrying a backpack. what I hadn't realised was it was in the very centre of the red light district! Fine at day, but I would have preferred it if Jaquie was back for venturing out in the evenings.
Anyway, venture out I did because the Robot Restaurant was apparently not something to be missed and that is absolutely the case. I went with an open mind and sat excitedly waiting with my beer and my basket of (salted) popcorn. I prefer sweet but things here aren't designed to be fattening (all the Japanese are thin. I have yet to see one carrying any weight. Plus they all dress so stylishly.). The show was amazing, full of lights, movement, noise and incredible remote control costumes. Only thing missing for me was Cerys - I kept thinking how much she would have loved to see it all from the costume, stage side of things.
Food has been a bit tricky. Ive resisted the usual chains and been trying to eat. Japanese. Again, like China it's very meat based but I have discovered a couple of things I like - tempura and some of the soups. Also some things I really dislike. - tofu and can't say I'm fussed on cold rice or rice for breakfast.
On my second day here, I was wondering around the centre and discovered it had been turned into a huge street festival with lots of traditional Japanese dancing. I lost a good few hours sitting in the streets with the crowds just watching and absorbing all the noise and colour. I dipped into a restaurant, upstairs behind me for a quick orange juice, only to discover it was Loooooooooo the French company that make really nice toiletries. I ended up having a French onion soup which would have revelled any I've had in France and met a really nice couple who live in an island off The North of Japan. They even offered for me to come and stay with them. Probably cause I'd already told them, their island wasn't on my trip! Kate you would have loved the restaurant, we could definitely do with one in Cardiff
MOUNT FUJI & HAKONE
I decided on an excursion for this as doing it myself involved several different forms of transport and realistically an overnight stay. It was a full day, from 7:30 to 20:00 and our Guide kept us to a really strict and tight timetable. If she hadn't we wouldn't have packed so much in and although on times it did feel a bit rushed, I enjoyed it and recognise that sometimes I need chivvying up, or I can easily loose a couple of hours/days.
First stops were for amount Fuji and I think I got some good shots of this amazing volcanic mountain. In Japan they are incredibly proud of Mount Fuji, our guide entertained us with folk law stories about it and had us all sing a song about it being the number one mountain in Japan - quite bizarre!
After a typical Japanese lunch in Harkone which was beautiful and well worth a couple of days, we had a lovely river cruise followed by a cable car ride. All quite charming and a real treat of a day.
I was exhausted by the time we got back so just grabbed some food and went to bed ready for another early start today.
Managed to find my way from hotel to Tokyo to Kyoto (on a bullet train I did manage to get a photo of). Very, very nearly missed my stop writing this so have just logged back. On to upload and will fill you in on Kyoto in next update xxxx