Trip Summary

Well, another trip has come to an end and we are now back home. We were overdue for a trip somewhere and this was fantastic. Not having a packed itinerary was nice this time. I found it much more relaxing to not have the pressure of staying on a preset schedule. However, it may have been good to at least have a general plan. Some days felt a bit wasted as we perhaps took things a bit too easy. It’s a tough balance. It’s so far and takes a bit of saving up to go that we want to make the best of every minute. But also need to factor in that we are on vacation so also don’t want to exhaust ourselves and should not feel guilty of taking things easy some days. It’s a balance.

Once again we found the fast pace of Japanese life, the crowds, the trains and amount of walking to be exhausting. When we first arrive we are excited and full of interest to go see things. But after a week, it all wears on us. Then, as much as we want to continue seeing things and going places, the dreadful thought of getting on the crowded train and walking discourages us.

But the first week, I’m happy we got out, did things and saw new things. We had not stayed in the Gotanda area before so setting out on foot our first day to explore was nice. Exploring our old favourite places like Shibuya, Loft, Tokyu Hands and Mark City Shibuya was great too. I’m most happy about seeing Mount Fuji through the Sunrise Tours. We got some great pictures and was such a nice experience to walk around at stage 5 level. The views were incredible and too difficult to know about and get to on our own.

We also discovered on this trip that simply using Google Maps for directions to places worked really well. Google accesses the train schedules and specified all the details that we used to get through the HYPERDIA app. Nice to know there’s no need for that going forward. The information presentation was actually more detailed with Google. Just need to remember to pay attention to platform numbers. There’s great signage in Tokyo. First time, take the time to absorb it all and understand where to look going forward.

If staying in Tokyo again we would like to stay at Tokyu Stay hotel. Much better place than Mystays. Was just unfortunate that we were not able to book at one of the locations on the short planning we did. Mystays rooms were extremely small. Our booking also did not include breakfast whereas Tokyu Stay typically did. But considering we made these plans a week and a half before going, I guess cannot complain. We still had a great time.

I’m already looking forward to going back whenever we can. But would like to see Kyoto and Arashiyama bamboo forest.

There’s something really nice about Japanese culture. Omotenashi (customer first) and the cleanliness in general are very nice. Everything is so clean wherever you go. The trains look like they’re new even though hundreds of thousands of people use it every day. We sat for a drink at Starbucks and a server brought Deniz a storage basket so that she would not have to put her bags on the floor or seat. You would never see that here. The general safety is nice too. On our arrival taking the monorail from the airport, Deniz put her camera bag on one of the luggage shelves. As it got busy we got shifted away from that shelf. It would have been too easy for someone to walk off with it. But it was still there upon our exit. At Starbucks these two elderly ladies wanted to save a couple of seats beside us and left their bags to save it, then proceeded to get in line to make their order. Most other places you would not do that as your bags would be gone. It is generally a very safe place. The busy tourist areas however were different. This was the first time we heard security announcements advising people that police were aware of pick pockets in the area.

Tokyo is a very busy and crowded place. But there’s order in the madness. There’s no pushing and shoving. People will be in a hurry and will walk passed you when open to do so. But they will not shove you out of the way and as long as you keep up you will get your turn. If in a crowd heading towards an escalator where the crowd funnels down to single file, just go with the flow, let people in and people will give you your chance. Everyone works together. Entering and exiting the trains works the same way. You line up to get on. First let the people off and then fine onto the train. If you end up far from the doors just make some indication you need to get off the train and people will make way for you. There’s a common courtesy there.

Upon returning to Canada there was lack of order at customs, grumpy people and agents who ignore you leaving you wondering if it’s ok to proceed or not. No courtesy whatsoever. Yup, we are back home <sigh>

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