Despite us adoring the socks off the country, there were 2
1) The freezing cold – well, we went over Winter so what can you expect? The weather hovered between a shivery -2 to 10 degrees, and considering we were outdoors all the time, it got veeeerrryyyy cold. I was wearing 4 (!) layers and still pretty shivery, especially at night. Also, for around 3 days, it drizzled quite a bit. Depressing as I like my holidays super sunny and warm. The weather did get a lot better later though, which was fantastic. Still, I think I prefer Japan more in the heat 😛
2) The sheer exhaustion – Tokyo’s a real walking city. It’s best to walk around, since taxis are really expensive especially if you’re travelling long distances. Even when taking the train, the stations are massive and walking to the station plus walking around inside the station = a lot of walking. We were walking for basically 12 hours a day or more, every day. My feet and legs were SO tired that every night, I’d lay in bed and take a LONG time to fall asleep (I normally have a knack for falling asleep within 10 mins), because my body would just be too exhausted and I couldn’t sleep – weird but true. And I’d waver between wanting to cry from being so tired, and being so so so happy ‘cos I was in JAPAN!
Fortunately, apart from that, Japan was perfection. I LOVED pottering around the place and poking our noses about. There’s so much to do, every street holds hidden treasures of little shops and cafes. It’s similiar to Shanghai in a way – where the city is bustling with people (though the Japanese don’t shove or spit) and there’s a myriad of things to do once you step aside.
Walking around the streets of Shinjuku, where our hotel was
Gorgeous Japanese women!
Lots of little side-street stalls
I HAS AN UMBRELLA
Statue of some dog that waited every day for years for its master (or something)
Whilst in Asakusa one afternoon, Dad saw “a long queue outside a restaurant” so naturally, we had to go check out the food, despite being NOT hungry at all (had just eaten breakfast)! It was a little restaurant tucked into a side alley, but had loads of locals queueing for their food. We huddled at a small table, on little wooden chairs, and selected from the (very small) menu. Basically, they served tempura.
The tempura came out black-ish. Not like the light-coloured tempura that you see everywhere else. Turns out they use some sort of sauce/gravy that they pour over the whole dish, which makes it that colour. Unfortunately, it also makes the tempura quite soggy – instead of crisp. But obviously the locals like it that way, because the place was packed. The flavour was excellent – robust and very tasty, but if you don’t like your tempura really soggy, then this isn’t for you 😉
It was also insanely EXPENSIVE!!!! Almost US$20 for a bowl. Ouch. Especially considering it’s a very casual, hole-in-the-wall type of place. I would’ve expected it to be half the price, which is what most other places would’ve charged. So whilst it tasted okay, it was really bad value. I don’t think we’d go back…
In the (long) queue for a tiny little restaurant selling tempura
Small and cramped inside, but it was sooo crowded!
The famous dish. None of us thought it was that amazing, though 😛