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An Alien in Spain Visits - Japan (Tokyo)

The flight with Aeroflot from Fiumicino Airport Rome to Narita Tokyo took a little over 16 hours including the short stop in Moscow however because of the difference in time zones having taken off at 11.10 am on 22nd of January I arrived 24 hours and 10 minutes later at 11.20 am on 23rd with absolutely no complaints regarding the carriers or the plane.

The choice of accommodation, booked via, was Hotel Ann Asakusa which is in the Taito district and a short walk from Asakusa Station that can be reached easily by the excellent train system in Tokyo for a couple of euros.

The Hotel set in a quiet side street cost €153 for a double room for 2 nights and was perfectly adequate although small in size which I found to be the case throughout most of Japan that I visited.

This trip being part of a RTW tour was limited to only a couple of days at each location and unfortunately I was feeling under the weather therefore we were unable to fit in everything we wanted.

After booking in to the Hotel and taking a nap a short walk took us to Nakamise Shopping Street (Orange Street) the area that abounded with restaurants and having previously made a note of The Ippudo chain of restaurants that were renowned for their Ramen (a sort of soup with things in it) we had our first meal on Japanese soil there and it was delicious. After which we took a slow walk back through the rain and had an early night,

The next day after a McDonalds breakfast of sausage McMuffin we were on our way to see probably the main attraction in Tokyo, The Imperial Palace, however, it turned out to be closed to visitors on Fridays.

Next stop The Tokyo Tower 332.9 meters tall the second tallest structure in Japan. An Eiffel Tower like structure with viewing platforms for uninterrupted views across Tokyo when the weather is good costs 1,200 yen (10 euro) however the weather was cloudy and overcast and so we decided to give it a miss.Not a good start to our Tokyo sightseeing day

Below the Tower can be found Zojoji Temple which dates back to 14th Century and is one of the Buddhist main shrines. The 600 year old temple houses the mausoleum of the then ruling Tokugawa family including remains of 6 shoguns. Free entry and you can wander the grounds where you will find a unique area for the unborn children. Filled with stone statues representing unborn children some decorated with clothes and toys to help grieving families. This might seem morbid but I would recommend a visit as it is very moving.

Our next stop required another train ride to one of the more salubrious areas of Tokyo, Kabukicho, 2 Chrome and The Samurai Museum located at 160-0021, Tokyo, Shinjuku City is where we enjoyed a couple of hours of a tour with a very knowledgeable Japanese guide who showed us numerous costumes and armour worn by warriors and gave us a history of feudal Japan which culminated in a demonstration by two modern day swordsmen and as a willing volunteer, a chance to take part in a scripted sword fight and get dressed up in your own samurai costume. All this for 1,800 yen (15.25 euro.) quite a bargain.

Shinjuku is known as a pleasure district and there is always some thing to do at night. It is also a very safe place (as is all of Japan for visitors) to stay with many affordable hotels and hostels.

Close by the Samurai Museum is the infamous larger than life "Robot Restaurant" where there are four 4 shows a day one in the afternoon and three in the evening lasting two hours a time at a cost of 8,500 yen (72.18 euro). Booking is essential. Check it out on line and on You Tube and make your mind up if its worth it.

Back to the train station at Shinjuku and a trip back to Asakusa where a few yards from the station Tokyos oldest Temple can be found. Not only is Senso-ji the oldest but it is also one of the most significant with over 30 million visitors annually. Adjacent to the temple is a five storey Pagoda, The Asakusa Shinto Shrine.

Entry from the south takes you through The Kaminarimon (Thunder Gate) which is popular with tourists with a statue of Fujin on the right and Raijin on the left . Early evening is a good time to spot Geisha Girls offering a prayer on their way to appointments.

This location is also a good place to see the famous Tokyo Skytree dominate the night sky. At 634 meters tall it is not only the tallest tower in Japan but the second tallest in the the world where only the Burj Khalifa at 829.8 is taller. At night you can see it lit up and if you feel daring enough there are two viewing platforms one at 350 meters (Tembo Deck) 2,100 yen (17.94 euro) and one at 450 meters (Tembo Galleria) additional 1,000 yen (8.54 euro). Open from 8 am to 10 pm last entry is at 9 pm.

After a late meal we headed for bed after a very exhausting day knowing tomorrow promised a ride on the bullet train to the old capital Kyoto

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