I’ve decided to start travel blogging again and what better place to begin than Japan! We are currently on the Shinkansen – more commonly known as the bullet train, which travels at speeds of up to 200MPH – heading north from Tokyo to Nagano prefecture to see the famous snow monkeys, which is something I’ve been wanting to do for years. You’ve probably seen photos of them sitting in the hot springs with snow on their heads. So you’ll have to wait until my next post to get a report on that!
We arrived to Tokyo a couple of days ago after a long and exhausting journey crossing 15 time zones in a week which involved me sleeping in a different place every night for 8 nights including 2 overnight flights, a hotel in London and a hotel – more like a tiny room – in the Moscow airport. Needless to say we are still completely dazed from that and have been sleeping 3 to 5 hours at a time at completely random times. Last night we woke up and went out at 3am for sushi and arcade games because we couldn’t sleep. Good thing Tokyo has lots of things open at all hours! We even tried to go bowling at 330am but all 16 lanes were full.
The city of Tokyo is pretty amazing and we are really loving it. You could never get bored here because there is just so much to see and do. It’s so big and shiny and bright and even the people are interesting looking and have a type of fashion not really seen anywhere else. The only downside of Tokyo is that it is extremely expensive (for example this train we are on right now which is only a 1 hour and a half journey, cost 8,200 Yen, or $71 USD). It is also extremely crowded, being a city of 13 million. You can see just how crowded it is here from this photo I took yesterday after walking down this street in the neighborhood of Harajuku.
Another interesting thing about Tokyo is that smoking is NOT allowed OUTSIDE. Which is great right? This means no one throwing cigarette butts on the street – in fact, it is SO incredibly clean here that I’ve never seen as much as a single piece of trash on the street in Tokyo, which is pretty amazing for such a huge and crowded city. What happens though when you can’t smoke outside? That’s right – everyone smokes INSIDE. Even in restaurants. Which is of course really, really gross. This is the one thing that I seriously dislike about this city, but, what can you do. Everywhere has its positives and negatives.
The Japanese also love animals! Since most people can not have pets of their own due to tiny living spaces, there are a LOT of cat cafes! I think we have seen about 5 in just the two days we have been here so far. We have not yet been into one yet – but we are planning on it! Aside from cat cafes there are also dog cafes, and believe it or not – even hedgehog cafes, OWL cafes, snake cafes, bunny cafes, and more. You pay a fixed amount for a fixed amount of time and there are usually drinks available as well. I’m not sure how I feel about these exotic animal cafes though, I kinda feel bad for the animals being handled constantly and I don’t think owls of all things should be kept in a damn cafe so I don’t really want to go there. We did go to the hedgehog cafe though, which was 1630 Yen per person (about $14) for 30 minutes including a little container of live worms to feed to the hedgehogs. They sit you down at stools with a big sawed in half barrel with 4 hedgehogs in it. You get a pair of gloves to wear so you can pick them up without being poked – you are allowed to pick them up without the gloves if you want, but you risk being poked or bitten. They really loved the live worms and it was funny to watch them eat them. I felt bad picking them up because I am sure they are tired of so we didn’t pick them up too much. Other than that stuff there are many other animal experiences in Japan such as the snow monkeys that I mentioned that we will be seeing tomorrow, there is a place called Fox Village up north near Fukushima that looks really cute that I’d love to visit, as well as bunny island, and a few capybara petting zoos. I will eventually get around to all of those places!
I am really looking forward to the next month here and all the wacky things we are going to do like sit in a bowl of ramen – yes, really! Haha