TOKYO - Japan: Part 1
Our journey to Japan was a short one, (one week to be exact) but we covered a lot of ground, did a lot of funky things (like ride the Shinkansen aka Bullet Train!) and ate a few funky things along the way too.
So, what is Japan all about -electronic toilets and Hello Kitty? That sums up modern Japan, to some extent, but we discovered that Japan is a beautiful blend of the old and the new. We paid a visit to Kamakura (famous for the big Buddha statue) and the ancient city of Kyoto known for its temples, gardens, and Geisha’s (read more about our trip to Kyoto, here).
Here are the highlights of our trip to Japan. First stop, Tokyo!
1. Cosplay restaurants (Maid Cafe)
These are themed cafes that you’ll find dotted around all over the town of Akihabara (the famous Electric Town) and you’ll find the Maids dotted around all over Akihabara too, handing out invites to their cafe. All you have to do is pick a maid (we don't like the way that sounds either) and she’ll take you to her secret underground cafe.
Our maid took us to ‘Moe Maid Heaven’ cafe. It’s a cool little place to eat and have a drink or two and you’re served by these really cute Japanese waitresses who are dressed up in maid outfits and speak in a baby voice. As soon as you are seated, the maids light LED candles and make everyone repeat some Japanese words after them but, it has to be said in a baby voice otherwise they won’t serve you. The words are ‘moi moi koo’ and you say it while stroking your face like a cat…or a squirrel.
They don’t allow pictures or videos to be taken in the maid cafe’s unless you take a picture with them, which they charge you for. You can order anything from burgers, fries and crepes. We ordered ice cream; but since we were in Japan, it wasn’t going to just be any ordinary ice cream. Oh no. Check these out…
The best part of this cafe experience is that every hour, all the maids come together and do a little song and dance, and if only we could have recorded the dance! They sing in these really high pitched voices like chipmunks, swinging their arms around and doing the robot dance to rock music.
At the end just before you leave, they give you your own little passport and stamp it to say that you’ve had the Maid Cafe experience. The time in the Maid Cafe is limited to an hour and the seating charge starts at 500 Yen, so it is a little pricey but a novel experience you'll only find in Japan!
This is the famous electric district of Tokyo aka ‘a nerds paradise’. This is where you will find all the comics, video games and latest gadgets; even people dressed up as animated characters. It’s the place where we thought we could buy a hard drive for peanuts. We were wrong.
As soon as you step out of the station you feel like you’ve walked into a futuristic world. Extension cables, plugs, fuses, batteries, cameras, TV’s, phones, memory cards and other electrical goods is all you will see as you walk around this town. It’s like a really big PC world, or Comet.
.3. Tokyo Tower
This basically gives you panoramic views of the whole of Tokyo, and is a must because you get to see how vast (and busy) the city of Tokyo really is. It just stretches for miles and miles with no horizon line. You can see Mount Fuji, Disneyland, Hitachi HQ and other impressive buildings. As with most things in Japan, this isn’t cheap either and for each floor you visit you pay a higher price (!)
4. Disneyland Tokyo
Disneyland never needs an introduction so all I’m gonna say about this is that Disneyland Tokyo kicks Disneyland Paris and Florida’s ass! Not because of the rides because Florida takes that hands down, but having been to all three, Disneyland Tokyo really brings the magic of Disney alive. He would feel so proud.
All the staff dress up in the costume of the characters (I want to work here). Even the people that come to the park dress up as Disney characters. The kids (and adults) were dressed up as Jack Sparrow, Mickie Mouse and Cinderella and there we were in our shorts and t shirt getting stares as if we were the ones that looked ridiculous.
We were there just before Halloween time so the whole theme park was decked out with pumpkins and ghosts. Spooky! We rode on every ride twice because their queue system is just so efficient and everyone actually waits in line in single file.
5. Haraijuku and Shibuya
These are Tokyo’s most fashionable and trendy districts. Haraijuku is a lot like Camden (London) and is where you’ll find young teens experimenting with their fashion in eccentric ways. Lolita is the term used to describe the Japanese street style that you’ll see here and it really is something that’s unique to Japan.
If you’re looking to paint the town red then Shibuya is the place to go. It’s one of the most busiest and trendiest places in Tokyo famous for it’s shops, entertainment and nightlife.
More pics from our trip
Click here to for our experiences in the ancient capital city of Kyoto