The toilets at Haneda Airport, quite conveniently play waterfall sounds so no-one knows what you’re doing…though everyone is doing the same. Humans are very peculiar sometimes.
After an uneventful flight we touched down at Haneda International Airport dead on time. The weather wasn’t too good: rain and 15 degrees. Mind you, the hotel we’re booked in is ridiculously close. So close, in fact, that it’s tacked on to the end of the airport terminal. From the airport there’s all sorts of connections to Tokyo central, which is extremely handy and, of course, when we leave tomorrow night, the airport is…well it just is.
Sadly it means we don’t get much of a view from our room but who cares. I mean the floor is made of purple* and the aircon works.
Having settled in and established base camp, and rested for a few hours to get over the flight, we headed off to savour the delights of the Tokyo public transport system.
Once you get over the strangeness, it’s all very simple and there appears to be trains that go everywhere you could possibly imagine.
We headed off for Tokyo central, thinking this was where all the big lights and action takes place. Quite frankly, it was a tad disappointing. In fact, it was quite dark and dead.
We wandered around a bit, working out where to go for a visit to the imperial palace tomorrow and found the most amazing restaurant.
It was called Grill Ukai and serves mostly steak. In fact, the first they do is introduce you to the meat. There were three choices. Naturally we choose the most expensive but, by the gods, it was amazing. The best piece of steak I’ve ever tasted.
Actually all the courses (for there were many) were delicious and attractive, though the six desserts were a bit excessive.
The ultimate part of the meal (leaving aside the shock of the bill) was the head waiter carving the still sizzling meat at the table. This was after we’d been shown it fresh from the grill. In fact there was a lot of meat interaction to the extent that I started feeling a bit odd eating it given I felt like it was almost a member of my family who I’d known for years. Fortunately I didn’t give it a name because then it would have just been impossible to eat.
Actually the head waiter was a lovely chap who taught us a bit of Japanese; like how to say thank you and good evening. We instantly forgot the ‘good evening’ which Mirinda thought was similar to Kumbaya but we started saying ‘arigato’ all over the place. I think we had more fun than the couple at the table close by who spent most of the evening looking at their smartphones except when the waiter took their photo with them sitting together as if they’d spent the night together enjoying each other’s company.
We did use the phone a couple of times, obviously for film and photos in this post but, more importantly to find the bit of Tokyo with all the lights and the big crossroads called Shibuya giving rise to the Shibuya Scramble. Given it was only a train ride ride away, we paid the bill and headed across town.
The massive pedestrian crossing which features in the opening credits of Tokyo Stories: Midnight Diner is world renowned and is such a tourist magnet that people stop in the middle, mid scramble, to take photos and videos. Given you don’t have very long too cross and there’s an enormous amount of people coming towards you, this is a hazardous activity. Being essentially a coward, I took some film before crossing.
We had a jolly good wander around…
…then, starting to tire (jet lag starting to apply its brakes), we headed back to the hotel.
Our first taste of Japan was a great success.
* I have no idea what this means. It’s in the guest book and says: “The premium floor is made of sophisticated light purple to create a luxury atmosphere.” The thing is, the floor isn’t purple and it doesn’t look either sophisticated or luxurious.