We've been fortunate enough to have (what the boys call) a "handler". Through a friend of a friend (well technically, a friend of a friend's sister) has been gracious enough to show us around and help us navigate the craziness of Tokyo. It has been amazing to have her. Even though Huge's Japanese has been helping us get by, having a native speaker has been advantageous. Yesterday's festivities kicked off after our trip to the Tsukiji fish market. Sayuri met us at our hotel and we were off. First stop, Rippongi Hills. Ripongi is the ex-pat area of Tokyo, so most people will tell you to skip it, but Rippongi Hills is a collection of large muli-floor, multi-purpose buildings (But HUGE). We first went to the top to see a 360 degree panorama view of the city. Although probably a very "touristy" thing to do, it was definitely a great way to see how the city was laid out. Then it was lunch time... in the basement of one of these buildings, the four of us went for some delicious ramen. I could eat this every day!
After walking around we decided that we needed a bit of a nap as we had a big night ahead of us. Sayuri came back to meet us and we took the train to Shibuya. This is the typical picture people have of Tokyo -the enormous intersection with hundreds/thousands of people crossing at once with the neon lights ablaze. Coming out of the train station was pretty overwhelming. And crossing the street was an experience like no other. It was like crossing during rush hour at Times Square, but times a thousand. Literally a sea of people.
*click on image to enlarge and get the full effect!
*photo courtesy of huge-photos.com
Dinner (well, first dinner) was at a tasty, but trendy isakaya. Kind of tapas style, but they had the most delicious fresh tofu. After we tried to find this little restaurant we had read about in Lonely Planet. Believe what people say, it is IMPOSSIBLE to find places in Tokyo. There are street signs (sparingly), but there are no numbers... so even if you have an address, it's really hard to find places. After asking a few people Sayuri finally found the place, Sakanatei. It was on the 4th floor of this unassuming building, but they had really traditional Shizouka food. It was a very relaxed place and definitely off the beaten path.
Sayuri had a friend playing at a club, but we had a lot of time to kill, so we did the most stereotypical Japanese thing to do -KARAOKE! I'm not sure it was any different than karaoke bars in North America (with the private rooms), but being in Japan made it that much more special.
Finally around 1 am we went to a club to hear Sayuri's friend play. I can't remember the last time I was out at a "club" at 1 am, but when in Tokyo, do as they do. It was definitely an insiders kind of place, as it looked like you were walking into someone's basement, but it was definitely fun -and we were definitely the only non-Japanese. Unfortunately we're old, so we didn't make it to hear Sayuri's friend (Mista Donut) spin -he wasn't on until 3:30 AM! So we headed back in a cab around 3. I'm still pretty proud of us for making it that late!
Tokyo nightlife definitely is crazy -the only thing I could do without is the indoor smoking. It's hard to believe it was like that in North America only a few years ago!
*photos courtesy of huge-photos.com