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Stars of Japanese TV

Imperial gardens, free tea and national TV


We hold up our hands and admit that we messed up a little on Tokyo. Having so many other countries to think about and with a tour already booked, we neglected to buy a travel guide or even do any research on Japan. With a touch of naivety, we'd thought we’d be able to get our hands on some English leaflets to assist us but unfortunately this was not to be.

Our arrival in Japan had started off with some excitement as this was the first country that either of us had been in which required fingerprints to enter the country. Feeling a little like criminals we managed to suss out the Tokyo train network pretty easily as they have the stations written in English so on our first day of sightseeing we headed into Tokyo station. We immediately spotted some signs for the Imperial Palace so we started there.

We headed in through Ote-mon gate where all the other tourists seemed to be flocking and came across an art gallery of pieces donated by the Emperor. They were beautiful to see. We then headed on through the gardens, which were stunning with a lake filled with koi carp and some gorgeous trees. No matter how much we wandered though we still couldn’t find the palace. At long last we did find it, tucked behind a large wall, and sadly it was shut. We found out on our tour later on during the day that it only opened two days of the year and the next one wasn’t until December!


After having had our fill of the gardens and not too sure what to do next due to our lack of information or even a map we decided to make our way back to the station and see what we could work out from there. It was as we were struggling to find our way back that we consulted one of the maps dotting the area and we noticed, in English, those most sacred of words; tourist information centre. We had to stop ourselves from sprinting there to nestle in the familiar and comforting embrace of another info centre and once we had arrived we set about making the most of it. As the Japanese are one of the friendliest peoples on earth it wasn’t long before one of the staff came over and asked if we needed a hand and so we found ourselves being whisked off on a walking tour of the area.

The tour was somewhat unusual as we each had a headpiece so as to hear the three tour guides from a distance. They tried their hardest to give a great tour although at times did get stuck on the English (not a criticism by the way as we don’t speak any Japanese) and so at times it was a little hard to follow. They did however pick some interesting spots and we were staggered to learn that the Marunouchi area that we were in accounted for one quarter of Japanese revenue.


As we made our way back to the Information centre a news crew suddenly appeared and began filming us. A little puzzled we attempted to act natural as we listened intently to the tour guide. They were still hovering round as we went into the activity room above the centre and we were supplied with Japanese tea (yum for Alex, yuck for Rach). They then came up to us and with one of our guides acting as translator, they asked whether they could interview us with questions about Tokyo. We agreed and spent a good ten minutes answering questions about our opinion of Tokyo, what we think of Japan, which parts were we particularly interested in and a few more. Apparently it will be on the news on Saturday morning so we’ll have to see if we can get hold of a TV!


After our touch of fame we hung around the place a bit longer as there was a craft section. Tempted by the glitter and the flowers we ventured over and a member of staff sat with us and taught us how to write our names in Japanese, which we copied onto bookmarks and went art-attack crazy. After having created our masterpieces we then decided to do one last thing for the day and head off to Shibuya crossing, a famous crossing in Japan, that has featured in several movies. It was incredible, simply the number of people that were there was awe inspiring and the lights and sounds overwhelming. This last effort did however completely finish us off and so there our sightseeing ended for the day and one which had started off pretty badly, ended up being a very fun day.


Rex’s Rules of the Road

  • You can buy a metro day ticket which is hop on- hop off.
  • Until we got to the airport we didn’t know that in order to fly to Japan, you had to have proof of how you’re going to leave the country. Make sure you do this in advance.
  • Japan require you to provide fingerprints on entering the country.
  • Toyko can be quite daunting unless you are armed with a guidebook or a map. The Information Centre, which is armed with many English booklets and English speaking staff, is a fantastic place to start.

Posted by rexontheroad 22:06 Archived in Japan

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