Oh. My. God. I’m in Tokyo!


Originally uploaded by Toniwoni

To view the rest of my photos, just click on the photo to the right…

Ok, so LOTS to tell you so if you think you’re going to ‘squeeze’ this into 5 minutes here and there you can think again. Got your cup of tea? Right then, let’s start from the beginning.

Mum and I were sat in the airport Monday morning and although we talked a lot of the time, when we went quiet, all I could do was wonder how much money I would lose if I can canceled the entire trip there and then. People were telling me all last week that ‘you’ll be excited when you’re at the airport’ but I wasn’t. I was filled with dread at the thought of 16 hours travelling and the fact that I didn’t think I was strong enough to cope with something so big after Sweetpea and Mr Officer. You have to understand that whilst I know this trip is a very positive thing, I have three personality traits that stand against me: I’m a worrier/stress pot, I’m a thinker and I’m pessimistic. Add that to my vulnerability of Sweetpea and you’re talking major meltdown at the thought that this trip my do the exact opposite of what I was hoping and overwhelm me. I’m physically and mentally exhausted and it began to dawn on me just what lay head.

HOWEVER, the 16 hours of travel was an absolute doddle! The flight felt like it was only 4 hours long but that might have something to do with the 3 movies, 2 episodes of Family Guy and 90 minutes of sleep. And in case you’re wondering, the movies I watched were as follows:
Up In The Air (very appropriate) – that latest offering from George Clooney about a frequent flyer that finally falls in love with another frequent flyer. Worth a DVD rental but not a cinema visit.
The Blind Side – based on a true, touching story of a Southern woman taking in a homeless black child and turning him into a huge NFL star. WELL WORTH the cinema ticket and Sandra Bullock won her Oscar for it (but think the award was for the real life lady rather than Sandra’s acting).
And…Twilight New Moon…I wasn’t that keen on the first one but LOVED this one. (note for Michaela…the twist will have you gagging for the third film!).

Anyhow, apart from speaking to the Philippino woman to my left, I didn’t talk much. There was a twat to my right, who’s breath you could smell even when his mouth was closed, who proceeded to tell me that there would be no English signs in Tokyo, I would be classed a 2nd rate citizen because I’m a woman and it’s extremely expensive. Needles to say we didn’t talk much after his ‘thoughts’ on Japan.

The layover of 2 hours in Hong Kong was okay but I hit my first culture shock. I sat for the flight to Tokyo and all I could see was Asian’s. It wasn’t until the last 20 minutes I saw anyone that look remotely European and it felt so weird. Talk about feeling like the ethnic minority! Flight was short and sweet and I squeezed in another movie…Law Abiding Citizen with Gerard Butler and Jamie Fox. Gerard plays a guy out for revenge and ladies and gentleman, he’s one hell of a headcase. A cold, calculated, clever but extremely sadistic headcase – I loved it!

Anyhoo…Japan airport, the bit I was really dreading? So easy! All the things I had read about ‘things you have to do’ turned out to be a build pile of poop. Immigration control and customs were easy though I struggled a bit with the language. The bit that almost gave me a heart attack was waiting for my bag; it was almost the last one off probably because I’d come all the way from London so ‘first one last off’ I guess but yes, mum, I was panicking. What an idiot. Then, thanks to Yuki (a lady I’ve been talking to from Couch Surfing), using her instructions, getting a travel card and myself on to the train into Tokyo was so easy I could have done it with my eyes closed. I couldn’t thank her enough for her easy instructions!

Well, then I arrived at the suburb I’m staying in – Ikebukuro station. Dear god! It was a cross between Oxford Circus and Grand Central Station – HUGE! Don’t ask me how but I managed to find my way out though what greeted me was a wall of neon lights and traffic; none of which appeared to be on my map to the hostel. Anyway, 10 minutes later and I knew I was heading in the right direction and before I knew it, I was at my hostel. Almost 7000 miles, 16 hours travelling and 32 hours awake, I had made it! I dumped my bag in my room and….DIDN”T CRY! That may sound like a silly statement to make but I thought being that I’m so far away from home, I’m tired etc and with culture shock I would be a mess but I just changed my clothes, went out and got some dinner.
Today was much different – very relaxed. Namely because I went to sleep at 8.30 last night and slept for 16 hours! No, I’m not joking. And it certainly wasn’t intentional. My phone died during the night so didn’t wake me up! I don’t feel bad about it though; I have a week left! But anyway, I headed over to Shibuya where the famous 6-lane pedestrian crossing but we don’t have photos because the SD-card I bought from Ebay from China didn’t work – oh the irony. However, I’ve got plenty of time to get back so photos will follow.

After that I literally ran back to my hostel, changed and went to meet Yuki but it took me 15 minutes to find the North Gate in the station (despite me coming in at the West) because it was so big! Ridiculous. Anyhoo…Yuki and I went to the Metropolitan Government Building for the views (photos on FlickR…just click the photo in this post and it’ll take you there) but I’ll be going back as the the South Tower was closed and apparently that has the best views. Her English was fantastic and she taught me how to pronounce a few words in Japanese. We quickly went to Shinjuku just so I could see the lights (but I’ll be going back for a proper look) before meeting some other Couch Surfers at the station.

And to prove to you how small this world is listen up…one of the men we met was a 6ft 2 Hawaiian who knew where Torquay was because he played rugby in Redruth! Have that! I had to laugh because I asked Yuki if there would be many people who spoke English at the CS meet and as it turned out about 50+ people turned out and EVERYONE spoke English so I didn’t need to worry. And what a night! WHAT. A. NIGHT. people! It was soooo good to see other ‘foreigners’. What I mean by that is that there are soooooo many Asians everywhere that as soon as I see another ‘white person’ I feel like I turn into a dog wagging it’s tail to realise there’s another one just like me! haha. But anyway, back to the meet-up. Lots of people and lots of stories though I was the only ‘tourist’…everyone else was living there but it was great for insight into the city etc. It’s now just gone midnight here and I’m just beginning to get tired. I have a headache more than anything.

Tomorrow I have the dreaded task of hitting the metro system at rush hour as I’m meeting up with a company for a day’s tour around the City so prepare for lots of photos tomorrow.
And how do I feel in general? Ok I think. I was shocked I didn’t cry yesterday and that I seem to be coping so well but that might have something to do with the fact that I’m listening to Radio One whilst typing and there are Mcdonalds, KFC and Starbucks EVERYWHERE! Not to mention that the hostel I’m staying at is lovely; clean, comfortable and despite being in Ikebukuro; quiet! I wouldn’t say I’m excited about being here. To me, it’s just like London only I feel like I’m in an episode of Futurama with all the language being so alien and futuristic to me. If I’d come here 20 years ago I would have been royally stuffed! But I’m quite happy zoning out with my iPod and just taking in the City in the way I want to.

Anyway, this post is ridiculously long and I really should try and get some sleep so…

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  1. Jamie T

    So glad you are happy Toni 🙂

    You are making me massively jealous, only yesterday I had another attack of travel reading, but I think it’s back under control..

    Looking forward to hearing more!

    J. x

  2. Wow! I bet you needed the extra long sleep, too, after all that travelling 🙂 Sounds like you’re settling in… I’m off to look at your photos now x

  3. HIGH FIVE!!!!!!! Glad things are going so well.

    Reading between the lines you sound totally energized, excited and ready to roll!



  4. oh wow you’re in japan!!! check out harajuku St in Tokyo, you’ll find it quite interesting. would love to hear more of your stories… keep ’em coming…

    enjoy your trip toni 🙂

  5. I’m so glad you didn’t let that jerk cloud your expecatations! Your right on every count about thos movies. Sandra got it for the woman she was playing but now that she’s left her cheating husband, I’m glad Sandy has something to cling to. It reminds you of London? That never would have ocurred to me.