St Edmund's

Japan 2023 – Day 1

Day One of our trip to Japan

Today we joined the ‘travelation-nation’, speeding into the city on two trains and countless (forgive the exaggeration, but this is the land of extremes) travelators. The St Eds crew were immediately impressed by the cleanliness of Tokyo. “Not a spot of graffiti or a speck of litter,” commented Piers. Just then, an old woman bent to pick up an object from the floor of the underground station. The commuters swirled past her as she lifted the offending item and hailed the person immediately ahead, who happened to be Molly-Ann. Quick as a flash Molly recalled our Japanese word for the day “arigato gonsaimasu”, which means thank you. It was Charlotte’s badge, which had fallen from her rucksack. The woman smiled and placed it in Molly’s hand, very impressed.

The first stop on our itinerary was the viewing gallery on the 45th floor of the government building. A high-point became even more-so when Chris settled himself at the grand piano in the centre of the floor and began to play. The music was lyrical and beautiful – it caught the sublime quality of the views that stretched all the way to the snowy peak if Mount Fuji. Well done Chris, it was a truly wonderful moment that had us (and several hundred other visitors) wrapt. (Please take a moment to watch the video.) How-the-Godzilla they managed to get a grand piano up there, we have yet to work out.

From the sublime to the delicious, we descended to our lunch, which was a sushi making class. A lengthy and methodical gorgiong on a range of different fish and vegetable delicacies expertly and inexpertly crafted by our own hands followed. With paper hats and plastic gloves there was something of the operating theatre about the process, but the food was delicious. Rauraidh rounded things off the perfect after-lunch treat  – his attempt to balance all the hats on his own head at once. 

A bright and increasingly hot afternoon greeted us as we emerged from the restaurant. We plunged, however, into the cool shades of the forest that surrounds the Shinto temple of Meiji Jingu. More than 100,000 trees were planted here during the 1920s, including species brought from across Japan. They have been allowed to grow into something close to a true wilderness, which now shrouds the sacred temple and from the bustling city. The St Eds tour spent a very peaceful hour wandering the broad paths through the trees and gazing at the elaborate wooden buildings, some constructed with gigantic timbers that seemed to speak of a different, perhaps more confident past.

Tokyo is nothing if it is not about contrasts. The next such head-swerving moment came in the form of the high-energy, high-colour shopping district, and the famous ‘Takeshita Street”! This is the fridge magnet, candyfloss, t-shirt market of the world. It is also a place to haggle, apparently; although none of us knew that until Jamie Burgess announced he had just knocked 20,000 yen of his purchase of hoodie priced at 29,000 yen. 

After supper, we took a train to the famous Shibuya Crossing for photographs, visited Pokemon World, and made it back to the hotel by 10pm. 

Stay tuned for more from Japan!