Touch down in the big metropolis...
Day 1: 3rd April 2023
After a longer than expected BA flight from London Heathrow to Tokyo, caused by aircraft being prohibited from flying over Russia, we finally landed at Haneda Airport. Immigration was a slow process due to all the required documentation and QR codes etc. Finally making it through however, bearing in mind Japan only re-opened their borders in October 2023 after Covid, we were met by our private driver to whisk us off to our hotel in the Asakusa district of Tokyo.
What was immediately noticeable was the fact that there was no noise pollution as we left the airport compound & made our way onto the highway for our short journey along the river to Akasura.
All the cars here in Japan are completely electric. This of course means no carbon pollution & you immediately notice the cleaner air too.
Following quick check-in, dropping our cases and freshening up, we headed off to reception to meet our private guide named Meiko, a lovely soft gentle lady who asked us which sights we would like to see first. We decided to let her choose and we set off in the sunshine on our scheduled 4-hour walking/metro tour of the City.
First stop was to taste some fresh Tempura Prawns & Miso soup to give us some energy for the next few hours of walking. From here we went straight to the tower which provided us with wonderful views over the city & beyond.
Next, Meiko led us down onto the metro subway explaining to us how the system worked; actually very easy just like our London underground, but by numbered stations instead.
Next stop taking into account that my husband Richard, is a Chef, we browsed the many catering & knife shops in the dedicated catering district; it was fascinating.
Onwards from here we visited Ueno Park where the locals were celebrating what was left of the Cherry Blossom season. Lots of people enjoying picnics under the trees. This is known as "Hanami", a special time of year whereby families & friends gather together to celebrate the new spring season.
The cherry blossom came out two weeks earlier than normal this year due to the mild weather in March; this has never been known before. Then the rains came before our arrival & unfortunately blew away a lot of the blossom, so we were not viewing it at its peak time, but nonetheless it was still a great experience walking through the vast park.
Next up, we jumped the metro to take us to Shibashi where the famous crossing was located which you often see on TV. This was certainly a spectacle to behold, we stood in awe of the organised functionality if it all. We even walked back and forth across the zebra lines just to experience it! Very funny on our part doing so.
All the time Meiko was providing us with information about Tokyo, making sure we were remaining familiar with our surroundings as Day 2 would mean us going it alone!
After walking through the many streets in different districts and hopping on and off the metro, dusk was upon us and we finished our tour in the designer district called Ginza. The streets were beautifully lit up and were lined with designer shop after shop. Designer prices too might we add! There were many fancy restaurants in between, including an Alice In Wonderland themed one which we thought we may visit another time. A glorious whisky shop too offering a vast array of whiskies for the discerning palette.
Towards the end of our tour Meiko handed us a special gift for our celebrating 35 years together. Such a wonderful gesture. A little note tucked inside and some hand printed Japanese fabric. How special!
The Japanese people are so polite and each bow there head when interacting with another: they have wonderful customs which as a tourist you must observe.
After saying our goodbyes we made our way back to our Akasura district in which sits the large Sensoji Temple.
We finished up our day by popping into a local restaurant and sampled some tasty food, all washed down with Japanese Sake of course, before heading back to our hotel for a good night’s rest.
After all we have so much to explore in our days ahead and we certainly need the rest after 22 hours on the go, walking just over 10,000 steps on our arrival in Tokyo.
Bring on Day 2, we are so excited as to what Tokyo has to offer.