Good morning from Tokyo! It’s 5am on Monday morning and I can’t sleep, and I don’t think I have slept.
Luckily though Alex and I have been googling the best ways to recover from jet lag.
- Go to bed at a normal time (we went to bed at 8pm)
- Wake up at a normal time aka set an alarm (we woke up at 2pm)
- Eat the right meals at the right time of day (we asked for breakfast recommendations at 3pm, which the hostel staff obviously found hilarious. Even more so because the day before we had asked them for dinner recommendations at the same time).
So, in summary, our jet lag recovery hasn’t been great. But luckily we have an overnight bus to Kyoto tomorrow (tomorrow? Today? Who knows?) so Alex and I are forcing ourselves to be positive and thinking that the less we sleep tonight, the better we’ll sleep on the bus.
Our hostel is adorable. It’s called Khaosan Tokyo Origami, and to anyone heading to Tokyo in the future I would definitely recommend it.
The beds look like this
On our first day we decided the best way to beat the jet lag was to just stay awake, so we set off on our first adventure, visiting the senso-ji temple right opposite our hostel.
You can spot me in the crowd looking bemused and embarrassed as there were lots of people laughing at me, a common occurrence in Tokyo.
Copying everyone else, Al and I waved the fumes of the smoke towards our faces and inhaled. Ironically, this is supposed to heal you, and whilst my lungs didn’t feel much healthier, the rest of my body definitely did. When in doubt, just do as the Japanese do.
We wandered into the temple and a Japanese lady helped me to get my fortune because we struggled to match the Japanese symbols on fortune stick, to the symbols on about 100 little drawers in the wall (‘ok so that one looks a bit like an 8 with a line through it and a thing on the bottom’ – we were holding it upside down).
And that’s where it all went wrong.
This was my fortune…
This was, undeniably, the worst thing I have ever been told.
I stared at it in utter horror, thinking about how terrible my life is going to be and how I’m doomed and oh my good God, why did I even come to Japan in the first place? After a few minutes of this torment, I looked up and read a little sign on the wall which said something along the lines of ‘remember that even if you get a bad fortune you should still make the most of life’, so thank God for that. Onwards and upwards.
Al and I being the brave and fearless gals that we are, decided the next thing on the agenda was to eat some fried octopus.
It was literally little octopus’ on a stick covered with soy sauce. I really don’t like saying this because i know Japanese food is meant to be the best in the world and I probably would have eaten it if it didn’t look so octopus-like, but it was pretty funky and not in a good way. I actually got a little suction pad stuck in my teeth for a solid hour afterwards.
Then came our next mission, finding a bin! For such a litter-free city bins are surprisingly hard to find. So, what started out as exhilaration from trying a new food, and managing (just about) not to throw up, soon morphed into frustration and regret, as I wandered around the markets in desperate search of a bin to dispose of our very real and gooey-looking octopus.
That night we went to sleep at 9pm, were up from 2am to 6am, and then woke up at 2pm, so that’s good.
Yesterday (?) is where the real fun began. For our 3pm breakfast we decided to get pancakes, yoghurt and bananas from Family Mart which is my new favourite supermarket. I also got a cold green tea, which tasted literally just like cold green tea. I don’t really know what I expected to be honest.
We then, by some miracle, managed to navigate the Tokyo transport system and find our way to Shinjuku which is the busiest train station in the world during the week. We arrived there at 4pm and I had a minor freak out thinking that we would be crushed (YouTube ‘tokyo metro’ and see what happens). After saying, ‘oh God it’s rush hour what are we going to do?’ a fair few times, Alex finally informed me that it was in fact a Sunday.
We then went to the Tokyo metropolitan government building to look at the view. On a clear day you can see Mt Fuji but as we for some reason decided to come to Japan in winter we had to settle for some skyscrapers and some clouds.
I cannot express enough how helpful Japanese people are. Even the ones who don’t speak English still try their hardest to help you. So after a nice man spotted us looking bewildered at Shinjuku train station and helped us, we managed to get to Shibuya, where the famous zebra crossing is.
This was it at 8pm on a Sunday evening…
It was manic. Advertisements played loudly on the walls of the buildings, and everywhere was alive with flashing lights and the hustle and bustle of people doing their Sunday night shopping It was incredible.
We then made it our mission to find a rooftop bar which is in our ’88 things to do in Tokyo’ guide. After roughly an hour and a half of searching (and asking six different people who all told us different things – two of them even googled it), we were at the point of giving up when a man came over and asked if he could help us. He then looked it up on his phone and pretty much walked with us round the whole of Shibuya trying to find it!
Eventually we found it and he even waited for us to get on the elevator! We got to the top and discovered it was closed…
I think in those situations you just have to laugh really.
After realising we had barely eaten all day we decided to go somewhere in Shibuya for dinner. Feeling confident that we had learned from our sushi experience the night before we marched in ready to dazzle with our chopstick skills and excessive green tea drinking.
Looking at the menu we saw ”Fresh Chicken’ and an avocado salad. ‘Yum! Fresh chicken!’ we thought, ignoring the red Japanese writing alongside it.
The ‘fresh’ chicken turned out to be raw.
Are we idiots? I still don’t know.
Obviously I never wear my contact lenses so as it arrived I picked up my chopsticks ready to dig in, then saw Alex looking at me in horror.
‘We can’t eat it!’ She whispered, and I sighed dismally as it dawned on me that we had, once again, had a serious blunder.
Unfortunately we had to send it back, opting for the deep fried chicken instead (if in doubt just get something deep fried). Luckily this wasn’t raw and being the positive gals we are, we left the restaurant feeling like we had learned something from this experience, trying to ignore the fact that whilst the Japanese diet is one of the healthiest in the world, we had still managed to eat something which would most likely clog our arteries.
We headed home after this (we’re now metro experts), stopping off at the Senso-ji temple on our way
Next stop, Kyoto, for Geisha’s, more sushi and preferably no more blunders.