To Hannah Methven, our Product Manager for Asia, one week in Tokyo sounded fantastic. 'I had a picture of what I expected from the city and I wasnâ€™t disappointed. It was everything I had imagined and then some. Here are a few of the highlights from my trip'.
I was expecting great sushi. But that was pretty much all I had in mind, and I thought by the end of the trip I would be pretty bored. No chance! Whilst I was lucky enough to try my hand at making and eating sushi I also got to try an incredible array of food, with far more variety than I was expecting. My favourite was Okonomyiaki, an omelette cooked on a hot skillet in front of you with all manner of fillings from super fresh seafood and meats to veg and noodles, really tasty and great fun to watch it being prepared. If you are brave there are tables with your own skillet so you can become head chef for a few hours. I canâ€™t forget the delicious miso soup that came with every meal, the Japanese style tapas we found in a small pub or the unidentified but tasty options at the breakfast buffet each morning.
The Bullet Train! I had to have a trip on one, it wouldnâ€™t be right not to. I travelled from Odawara back to Tokyo on the quietest train imaginable. You can only tell how fast the train is travelling by constantly looking out of the window, the ride is so quiet and smooth you would otherwise think the train was stationary. With a railpass the trains are exceptional value, with frequent departures and incredible punctuality they really are the best way to travel in Japan.
On several occasions I had people come up to me to see if I needed help, even people who spoke as much English as I did Japanese. Iâ€™ve heard the same tales from others too, people asking if you need help finding somewhere, on occasion walking you to the nearest train station to help make sure you reach your destination. Despite the language barrier you need never worry about being lost as there is always someone there to give you a helping hand. That coupled with an extremely low crime rate makes you feel very safe and happy to explore on your own at all times of the day and night.
I was expecting super modern from Tokyo and I got that by the bucket load, there are neon lights everywhere, gadgets to do almost anything you can imagine and an incredible number of vending machines on every corner. But then turn off a busy street and you can find yourself in the peaceful Senso Ji Temple, strolling through Ueno Park or in the hidden away gardens of Meiji Shrine â€“ which is only a short walk away from the bright colours of Harajuku Street (think Gwen Stefani and punky Japanese teens!) The mix makes it interesting and possible to spend a week here without the chance of getting bored.
Now I just need to find time to go back and explore the rest of Japan.
If you want to explore Tokyo for yourself, take a look at our Japan Adventure. A 13 day action-packed journey by high-speed railway that covers all of Japanâ€™s iconic sights. We explore Tokyoâ€™s neon-lit streets, take a cable car to view Mount Fuji and discover Kyotoâ€™s tranquil temples. Travelling off the normal tourist trail, we visit the site of the worldâ€™s first atomic attack at Hiroshima and uncover the countryâ€™s rural charm with a boat trip to Hirado Island.