Words by Jasper
Despite geeking out and reading nearly every article on the internet about Tokyo, there were still a few things that took us by surprise upon our arrival. Here are a few of our favourites.
Tokyo may be the biggest and most densely populated urban sprawl in the world, but it’s citizens still get the pleasure of hearing cuckoos and sparrows while sat waiting for their train. How you ask? PA systems! Rather than the cliched beep we associate with pedestrian crossings, this is replaced by a noticeably more avian tone. Similarly, birdsong is periodically blasted onto a train platform from a tinny speaker in an effort to make the morning commute slightly more quaint. And it works.
The Food Paradox
In Japan, walking while eating is a big faux pas. However Tokyo is a city filled with street food and vending machines at every corner. So, there must be plenty of areas designated for eating right? No, no there isn’t. So much food, so little opportunity to eat it. People were actually perching on the edges of flower beds or kerbs. Seriously, Joseph Heller couldn’t write this stuff.
Most people who know Jo, know that she can’t go more than 20 mins without needing to pee. They say in London you’re never more than 20ft away from a rat. We reckon the same is true for toilets in Tokyo, so our fears of navigating our way to the nearest toilet in Japanese were unnecessary. Let’s hope this is the case throughout Japan!
One look at a Tokyo map can give you double vision. At first glance it looks like somebody grabbed a load of London Tube maps and tried to make a public transport découpage. With this in mind we wrote off our entire first day to navigating across Tokyo to our first hostel. It took us 90 minutes. Turns out the Tokyo metro is pretty much the same as taking the tube (if the tube was air conditioned and had TV screens for adverts).
Tokyo is a place full of surprises- we will probably need to add to this list before we leave!