25.03.2013 - 07.04.2013 10 °C
Two weeks in Japan and it's been interesting; Rob loves it but I'm missing the sun, and its just a bit too like England! I thought it would be crazy and very futuristic, but its just a bit too normal and a bit too cold. However, we have had good two weeks here but just with tubes, umbrellas and queues as opposed to bikinis and beaches.
We spent the first five days in Tokyo, and the first two of those trying to see the cherry blossom as we were told if we didn't then the bad weather would blow them all away. Turns out it didn't, but by the time the sun did come out we had seen enough for a life time! The same thing happened with temples, as by the time we got to Kyoto earlier this week we were done with them (even though all the best ones are supposed to be there).
However, in between me complaining about the cold and being dragged around to places, we did manage to have a bit of fun. It turns out Tokyo doesn't really have a centre, but Shinjuku is one of the coolest areas with lots of restaurants and bars. We spent two nights frequenting the Golden Gai area (about 1000 five seater bars all crammed into a few roads) and in particular a friendly karaoke place where they seemed to specialise in songs half in Japanese and and half in English (which you then can't get out of your head no matter how hard you try). Lee Griffin even turned up one night to join in!
We also went up to the New York bar at the Park Hyatt (of Lost in Translation fame) and had a few cheeky cocktails. The view was awesome. Another favourite Shinjuku spot was 'piss alley' which is an entirely inappropriate name for a narrow street that sells yakatori (meat skewers).
When it came to food in general then once again Rob and I were split. My favourite was the wagu beef which we had in burger form in Tokyo (definitely my favourite meal there even if Rob does say it's cheating) and in its pure steak form in Kobe itself. Amazing.
The sushi has its moments and the best was probably at the Tsukiji fish market. We had to queue for about an hour to get it, but it was pretty good. The market itself was also really good. We have also eaten a lot of Raman (fatty pork noodle soup) which again can be good, but I don't get quite as excited about it as Rob seems too. We are off to Ramen World on the way to the airport tomorrow and he is practically giddy with excitement!
Other Tokyo highlights included seeing the Honda Assimo robot, shopping in Harajuku and the science museum. We then left Tokyo last Saturday and took the bullet train (pretty cool) to Hiroshima. The sun was out and we had a really good couple of days there. The blossoms were out all along the river and the banks were filled with people having picnics so we thought we'd better join in. The peace museum is pretty harrowing as expected, but it was really interesting to find out more about how the city recovered and rebuilt.
We then headed to the Osaka region and spent a day each in Osaka (shopping) Kyoto (Giesha spotting) and Kobe (eating steak), and are now on a peninsula south of Tokyo for a few days relaxing by the sea before all the driving starts! There are amazing views of mount Fuji but literally nothing to do but watch movies on the owner's massive projector screen, so that is exactly what we are doing.
So that's it for Asia. Three months, seven countries and we are now officially half way through the trip! We have started to book up the first few days of the States and can't wait. Nights two and three are up in Monument Valley and we are staying in a steak house in a town called Mexican Hat - you couldn't make it up. Bring on USA!
Weather: it's currently blowing a gale
Food: average apart from the steak
Craziness: below expectations
Cherry blossoms: seen them all
Best bit: Shinjuku in Tokyo
Rob's best bit: the electric toilets!
No pics as dropbox is being slow, but will post some on fb soon.