On our next day in Tokyo, we decided to hit the high spots and go to the Ginza. This is the most prestigious shopping area of all with some of the highest property prices in the world.
As usual, we caught the subway to the station marked as the beginning of our walking tour and once we surfaced up on the street, we spent a few minutes getting ourselves oriented. It’s always a bit of a mystery as to just where we might surface from the subway, but once we work out where we are on the map, our guide sheet is very easy to follow.
We started by the Central Market but because of a late start and some difficulty finding the location of the correct subway line at Shinjuku Station, we arrived just a little after the market closed after its morning session. However, it looked just like a market and the area near the station appeared to be full of freezers for keeping seafood. Just around the corner was a large street market where local women were buying everything from dried squid to slices of raw tuna (Australian) to sheets of seaweed in bulk packs.
From the market, it was only a short walk to the main intersection at the Ginza. Here, Christmas was in full swing. Most shops had some form of Christmas display – the best being a beautiful tree over 5 metres tall outside the Mikimoto store. Music stores were playing Christmas songs and the Salvo’s were playing carols and collecting money for the poor on a number of corners.
We had read an interesting article in the Herald Tribune (an International English newspaper) in which the author was saying how nice it was to be in Tokyo to get something of a Christmas atmosphere compare to multicultural cites like Melbourne (specifically mentioned), London and places in the USA where Christmas has been sterilised into some nondescript event in the name of political correctness. What a load of bullshit we go on with! I’d much rather have more of the atmosphere that is apparent in Tokyo; after all Australia is predominantly a Christian country.
We spent virtually all afternoon walking through some of the large department stores that would put David Jones to shame! We also took the opportunity to visit a number of famous brand stores that we don’t normally get the chance to visit – Burberry, Tiffany, Louis Vitton, Brooks Brothers, Gucci & Chanel. In stores such as these, it’s obvious that image is everything.
One of the stand out buildings is the Sony building – six floors showcasing their latest products ranging from High Definition Televisions to computers and walkmans. Around the corner is a very striking Apple store selling their latest products such as the Itouch.
By 4.30 in the afternoon it was getting dark, so we were able to take a few photos of the lights before heading back to our hotel. We were tired so rather than walking back to then shopping area near the hotel, we decided to eat in at the buffet because the prices looked reasonable but a buffet with Australian tenderloin and a bottle of Chilean white wine set us back over $140 after taxes and service charges.
We began today with a quick visit to the tourist information centre to get some additional walking guides, having exhausted our initial supply. After some consideration, we decided to catch the train down to a station near Tokyo Bay and see some of the new development there as well as the area around Tokyo Tower.
We came across a monorail that wound around some of the new developments near the harbour and had an interesting ride from the station at Shiadome to the end of the line and back. We then navigated our way through some back streets to the World Trade Centre Building where we went to the observatory on the 40th floor. It was a bit hazy today, but we could look out to many Tokyo landmarks.
Lunch was in a little cafe where no one had any English whatsoever, but we got by through pointing at the pictures on the menu. I thought that I might have ordered beef, but it turned out to be chicken and Jill’s slice of pizza turned out to be a slice of frittata!
We finished with a return rise on the subway to Shinjuku and then spent some time in the ‘Limone’ department store at the southern end of the station. (Fancy working for a company that has a name that no one in Japan can pronounce = it would come out something like The ‘Rimone’ Departamentu Store). By the way, another observation on Tokyo – try to spot a piece of litter anywhere – you won’t! (look at the picture of the station, for example).
Tonight we returned to our favourite noodle restaurant for a meal of Sukyaku Nabe Udon. Delicious and very inexpensive.
Tomorrow, we have time for a short sight seeing trip ater checking out and then its back to the hotel for the bus to the airport and an evening flight home via Sydney.