Goodbye hugs, swanky hotels and a tour’s beginnings
We had a little sad, but cute, moment when we left the JGH hostel this morning as our host Ayumi came to see us off. She looked genuinely upset that we were leaving and she even gave us a little hug each before watching us stagger on up the street, loaded under the weight of our bags. Still we did cheer up once we arrived at our destination, the Prince Hotel Shinagawa. This was to be the tour start and our hotel for the night. We’d decided, whilst in Australia, to do an STA group tour in Japan as we’d calculated it would reduce our costs dramatically as a rail pass alone was worth nearly the value of the whole tour. The hotel was practically bursting with luxury compared to what we are normally used to and we couldn’t wait to check into our rooms. The contrast between our last hostel and the hotel is shown below. Sadly however we couldn’t check in until two so we made our plans, left our luggage and headed off after a quick pow-wow to plan our day.
Our first destination was the Tokyo Sky Tree, the second tallest structure/building in the world. Sadly we already knew that we wouldn’t see the inside of it as there was a cost to get in. After leaving the train station we could see it in the distance. The only problem was that it didn’t look that tall. Still we persevered and so we got up close to the tower and realised just how gigantic it really is. We do however think that the Burj Khalifa in Dubai (Still dabbling in the delights of Dubai) spoiled this a little for us, as the Sky Tree does not have the Burj’s presence or the beauty. Still it was impressive enough and after a couple of snaps we were off again on the trail.
We stopped off at a shrine that Rach had really wanted to see, the Yasukuni Shrine. This was apparently a controversial part of the journey as it is a shrine dedicated to those who die in war and enshrines some war criminals. However when we got there all we could see was the beautiful shrine. There was no hint of any wrong doing on the part of the Japanese and it was a great experience. Even better was the small museum attached, it was here we sampled some of its delights in the foyer. It was really interesting seeing the war from a different point of view and we both really enjoyed ourselves.
After a quick debate about walking to the Tokyo Stock Exchange we decided against it and caught the train. This was a good choice as it gave us some time to study the brochure and we discovered that it is shut on a Saturday. So after a quick readjustment we decided to head to the Sony building. It is a building packed with all the latest offerings that Sony has for the market. It sounds a bit sad but we both had a really good time wandering the floors looking at all the tech. Perhaps the highlight was the small show of their latest TV that we got treated to. When we say the picture was so clear it felt like we could reach out and touch what was being shown, it is no exaggeration.
Sadly we had to pry ourselves away from the tech as it was time to head back to the hotel to check in and meet up with our group. We let ourselves into our room and after fifteen minutes of childish joy made our way back down and spotted our group. We had a couple of things to go through but before long we found ourselves heading out for some delicious Ramen Noodles together. We had a great time getting to know our fellow tourees, laughing at each other having to wear the paper bibs to eat and it should definitely be a good two weeks. We even ended up going for a midnight stroll with three others to explore a nearby shrine. It was a truly beautiful place although sadly we forgot our camera.
By now thoroughly tired we made our way back to the hotel and after a quick blog write-up collapsed into bed.
Rex’s Rules of the Road
- Check the opening and closing times. We almost messed up on the Stock Exchange.
- From what we’ve seen so far, tours are great for luxury at a slightly more affordable price.