It occurred to me after the fact that while I list some of the areas in Tokyo that I might not go into great detail in part to my vague familiarity with the places.
For some of you who have not been to Tokyo or Japan that might be an oversight on my part and so I shall try to say a little bit more about the places that I went to.
Tokyo is home to one of the most efficient rail systems both overground and underground. The map above is the Tokyo Metro Subway map and although resembling a bowl of multi coloured spaghetti that has been tossed in the air, it begins to make sense although I have always felt better having a copy in my back pocket or somewhere on my person most of the time. In such a major city the signage and announcements on trains are in both English and Japanese. Increasingly Chinese, Korean and French have also found themselves being written on doors, in toilets and restaurant menus. Please click on the photos to enlarge them.
The morning was dominated by heavy rain and a trip to the bank which suffice to say was not interesting at all since a bank is a bank wherever you are with their own peculiarities that are not worth going into detail.
Next was Tokyo Station, of which you can see a picture of the interior above, it’s not a picture of a cake. The exterior of the building which is rumoured to be modeled after Amsterdam Station is a red brick building which opened in 1914, it is the busiest station in Tokyo in terms of numbers of trains per day and the main port of call for Shinkansen (Bullet trains) as well as regional commuter lines and the Metro Subway.
It was also here that I took my Exchange Order to be validated and exchanged for an actual Rail Pass specifying the dates from which the pass would be activated. As I say I had a fairly loose itinerary lined up with destinations and date roughly decided. I sat with the staff member in the JR EAST Travel Service Center (Marunouchi North) at Tokyo Station for more than an hour in the end and she was very, very patient in helping sort out and check timetables and schedules especially for certain points in my journey where multiple changes would occur. Only one sequence caused alarm bells to ring where I noticed that I would have a 4 minute changeover between trains, to which another member of the staff there chimed in with: “Many Foreigners do it, you can do it.” I never forgot those words over the next 27 days riding around…
Exhausted from trying to find trains and make sense of my itinerary but somewhat more confident now that I actually had dates for my 21 day Rail Pass and a clearer understanding of my travel window, it was time for lunch. Now aside from actually running trains, many of the larger stations in Tokyo and in Japan now have become attached or home to mall like shopping and dining, this means better shops and restaurants. So lunch was had in the station, the choice was made to have Tonkatsu which is breaded pork loin or fillet coated in panko breadcrumbs which is then deep fried and served with shredded cabbage, rice and miso soup. You can also have Ebi Fry which I had with my Tonkatsu as one of the menu options. Growing up in England, I did have homemade tonkatsu and still do from time to time. In the UK due in main to the Wagamama chain, Chicken Katsu which is not so common in Japan has gained popularity and introduced panko breadcrumbs to the British.
Now this is where I hope that my limited readership will take time to comment and give me some feedback as I am aware that I am in danger of writing or recounting this trip in the style of a child who tells a story by saying, “And then….and then.”
Do you really want to see what I ate and read about the dishes? Or should I skip the food?