Rena and Wade Around the World

Our first Round the World trip from Jan 2006 - July 2006.

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Location: Regina/Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada

The adventures of living and working abroad. From Cayman to Europe, a break year and side adventure travels, this is our story.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Tokyo (Japan)

After a whirl wind tour of Kyoto, Hiroshima and the Japanese Alps, we had 5 days to explore Tokyo itself. Tokyo is the world's largest city with greater Tokyo's population estimated at 35 million people. That's more than all of the people in Canada! Even so, we didn't find that it had the big city mentality. People were always very courteous and extremely helpful and patient with us silly tourists.

Unfortunately, we had a few major disappointments. The Sony interactive showroom, which displays all of the latest gizmos and gadgets, as well as new technology in the works, was closed for renovations for the exact 5 days we were in Tokyo; the Sumo wrestlers were in hiatus after the end of their season; and we were unable to locate any Geishas (although there are apparently only 1,000 left in all of Japan). Lucky for us, we did find this Samurai Warrior!

We also managed to make a few other strange and unusual spottings. Although these may look like one of George Lucas's latest creations, it is actually the latest Toyota concept car. It's also the same vehicle and can change its shape back and forth depending on its driver's preference. Don't think it would survive well in Saskatchewan. I don't even think it would survive in Cayman! Still, pretty cool to look at.

We think this may be Bo Peep...although she seems to be missing her staff and sheep. Weird, yes, but not unusual. All sorts of dressed up ladies and men can be seen wondering the streets...even in the business district where this picture was taken. Although, the best exhibitions can be spotted on Friday and Saturday evenings. Wade got a slightly dirty look after taking this gal's picture! He has however, grown fond of the knee high stockings that all the ladies wear (even with their business suits) and purchased me four pairs. I hope that this fashion statement doesn’t make me look like a call girl at home!!

After leaving the Land of Oz, we went to the district of Shibuya. It is considered the young district of Tokyo given that all the trendy fashion designers, bars and restaurants can be found here. Oh, and you don't see anyone over the age of 35!

Japan is the largest consumer of fish in the world, so we felt it only fitting to visit a fish market one morning. It was a massive open air, bustling and smelly place and one had to be careful not to get run over by the many motorized carts whizzing around delivering fish from the stalls to the awaiting commercial purchasers parked outside. We meandered through the many narrow aisles looking at everything from tuna to octopus, urchin eggs to red caviar. And, some things we still have no idea as to what it was. Once our shoes were sufficiently covered in fish juices, we decided it was time to leave. Here is a picture of a tuna who’s seen happier days.

Naturally once you've left the fish market, it's time to hit the nearby local sushi bar, even if it is only 8:15 in the morning. Yes, we ate sushi for breakfast and surprisingly enough it was wonderful. Freshness seems to make all the difference in the world and I think we are now forever spoilt. I have never tasted raw tuna that melts in your mouth like this stuff did. Yummy, yummy. We managed to eat sushi 4 straight days in a row after this and discovered it is even better with sake!

Another strange phenomenon in Tokyo and Japan itself for that matter, is the vending machines. It must be the vending machine capital of the world and we were told some crazy statistic such as one vending machine for every 12 people. Wade of course was delighted to find out that you can purchase beer from the vending machines. Especially since there were multiple vending machines around our hotel. What he was not so impressed about was that when the shops close, so do the vending machines. Seriously, what is the point of having a vending machine if it’s not available after hours? Still haven’t figured that one out. It also took us a while to figure this one out. We went to this restaurant and tried to order food….only to discover that you do not order from the waitress, but rather the vending machine in the corner. It was really quite good for tourists as there were pictures beside each selection. We made our selection, paid the machine and it issued a coupon. We handed the coupons to our waitress and then she emerged from the kitchen with our steaming plates of food! Strange, yes, but I guess it does prevent dining and dashing!! Later, we found many more of these restaurants all over the city.

We were warned by many people that Tokyo is extremely expensive. Although we did find it very expensive, now being independent travelers and not having received a paycheque for nearly 6 months, we did manage to stay within budget. Well, until we went for coffee one day that is! Who would think that coffee in the subway could result in US $6 a cup, and a small cup I may add! I guess we should have guessed when we walked in and a sign featured in the coffee house said that all coffees were served in Astor cast bone china by Spode! I have to admit, it was a nice tea cup, but I think this finer moment was a little lost on Wade. Here is a picture of Wade trying to drink out of his teacup, complaining that he can’t even fit all of his fingers properly on the handle!

Lastly, here is a picture of a typical street in the suburbs of Tokyo.


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