KONNICHIWA TOKYO!

JAPAN BLOG 1

Wednesday March 28, 2018

Yeehaa, it’s actually happening! We touched down at Tokyo’s Narita Airport two afternoons ago and have been charging madly around this amazing city of 40 million people ever since. Phew! We’ve done so much already it seems like a blur, and I haven’t had a spare moment until now to catch my breath, throw a few photos together, and drop you a quick update.

Anyway, enough small-talk: here goes …

We’re staying, for the record, in the Grand Nikko Tokyo Daiba Hotel (overlooking Tokyo Tower, Rainbow Bridge and Tokyo Bay) – but don’t bother sending postcards, because, come early tomorrow morning, we’ll be gone-burger.

Japan’s dazzling capital seems to have everything you could ask for in a city: award-winning architecture, fantastic infrastructure, more cafes and restaurants than you can shake a stick at, and wave after wave of courteous, friendly, smiling, mostly young Japanese. Okay, we’ve only been here a couple of days, but so far (I kid you now) we’re seriously impressed with the place.

Take yesterday, for example. Before we had time to mumble “jetlag” we were off to Ueno Park, a popular spot for cherry blossom parties, with thousands of the gorgeous flowering trees lining the streets – and wall-to-wall gorgeous people. (Or did I already mention that?)

After meandering around aimlessly and taking photo-pot-shots at everything that moved, we headed for broad, tree-lined Omotesando Street … the ancient Asakusa Sensogi Temple, founded in 628AD by local fishermen … Akihabara Electronic Town (crammed with truckloads of electronic gadgetry) … and the famous Meiji Shrine, dedicated to a late 19th-century emperor who opened Japan to the West.

Today started (as every day should) with a yummy multi-choice breakfast. Then we dragged ourselves away to the fascinating Tsukiji Seafood Market – and, from there, to a sushi school where the resident sushi-master dressed us in white smocks and taught us how to make (and eat) sushi. We then drove across this vast city (40 million people, remember?) to the world’s most expensive shopping area, where we shopped (or pretended to) in Ginza Mitsukoshi, Japan’s oldest surviving department store – and two of our number (who shall remain nameless) got lost, briefly, on the 10th floor.

Finally, we zoomed halfway up Tokyo Tower (orange in colour and 13 metres taller than Eiffel) for some birds’-eye views of this stunning city.

COMING UP: We bid goodbye to Tokyo’s hi-tech modernity and plunge into Japanese history and culture – motoring a couple of hours north-east-ish to the town of Nikko: a center of Shinto and Buddhist mountain worship for many centuries, famous for its World Heritage shrines and temples …

PEOPLE-NEWS: Three of our internationally renowned Quacky Yellow Ducks have quickly found new homes, as Mad Midlifers got caught doing silly things … …

  • DON took away our ‘Luke Warm’ Award – for his failed attempts (thus far) to get a hot coffee from one of the gazillion vending machines that litter the city’s streets. Don put the right money in and hit the right button for piping-hot coffee, but the coffee that popped out was stone-cold, darn it!
  • PATTY & ROBYN are first-equal winners of our ‘Side-Tracked Whilst Shopping’ Award – for failing to rendezvous on time after shop-shop-shopping in that Very Posh department store, and then claiming (dubiously) that they got lost! Come on, girls – you could’ve made up a better story than that!

Yours bloggedly – JOHN

 

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THE LAND OF THE RISING SUN

JAPAN BLOG 0

Friday March 16, 2018

TEN MORE SLEEPS! That’s all we’ve got left until we meet our merry band of Mad Midlifers and fly up-up-and-away to the Land of the Rising Sun!

Frankly, we can’t wait!

Japan promises us an extraordinary mix of ancient cultures and feudal histories … austere traditions and sober memorials … lush landscapes and manicured gardens … rush-hour cities and hushed retreats … hi-tech wonders and hi-speed rail … samurai-warriors and sumo-wrestlers … tuna-auctions and mouth-watering sashimi … Buddhist monks and ornate temples … geisha girls and karaoke wannabes … rightly-proud citizens and a welcome that’s so generous we’ll be blown away.

Japan has it all, we’re told. It’s unlike any other place on earth. And travellers who come expecting the unexpected invariably find themselves entranced.

We’ll be ‘doing Japan’ in springtime, of course, when the nation’s iconic cherry blossoms (sakura) erupt in a magical blaze of pink-and-white, blanketing town and countryside in soft, colourful splendour. Factor in lots of yummy Japanese cuisine … friendly, English-speaking guides … plus superb accommodation … and you’ve got a unique hassle-free 17-day experience that we’ll be raving about for decades!

We promise to keep you posted with riveting reports and eye-popping pix. But right now, we’ve gotta go and pack. As usual, we haven’t started yet. Well, Robyn has. But I … well … you know how it is, eh.

Anyway, enough for now! You’ll hear next from us in Tokyo –  YEEHAA!

Yours bloggedly – JOHN

P.S. If you want to receive future Mad Midlife Travel Blogs in your INBOX, just sign-up (top-right) for your free Email Subscription! And if you’d like to leave a message for someone in our group, just click on the little speech bubble at the top of this entry, and add your comments! (Make sure you say who it’s for and who it’s from – and keep it brief.)