Tokyo Drift

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Asia » Japan
May 13th 2008
Published: May 19th 2008
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Tokyo is a vast urban metropolis and home to nearly 13million people (most of whom were on the subway at the same time as us on our first day in the city). The wider city houses 30 million people (almost 25% of the entire population of Japan) but notwithstanding the density, everywhere is immaculately clean.

Our Ryokan was wonderful and we loved the hot communal steam baths as an invigorating start (and calming finish) to the day. Sleeping in unheated rooms on Tatami with a hard rice pillow in traditional Japanese dress under bedcovers weighing about 20kg was an interesting experience, as was the constant shoe-changing. This must be done at the front door, at the entrance lobby to your room, the entrance to the wc and of course removed in the comunal bathroom.

Navigating the signage and the intricacy of the ticket machines for the various unconnected parts of the subway network was a challenge on day one, but we soon got into it aided greatly by the friendly and curteous subway staff and any member of the general public with a smattering of English.

The weather was our second major shock - all of us having arrived from somewhat sunnier climes. At 12 deg.C in the rain, it felt much like an English Autumn and I had to remind myself how to wear a jacket for the first time in over 3 months!

The intrepid travellers ventured forth to Senso-Ji Temple in the morning surrounded by hundreds of school children and pilgrims wafting smoke over themselves from the incense burner. In the afternoon we headed out to West Shinjuku for the first neon-fest and a rooftop view of the city. The day was topped-off with a 2 hour training session at the Kodokan with about 80-90 other dan grades in attendance.

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