Small in Japan

Adventures in Far East Asia


Day 1 Part 1
Day 3 Part 1
Day 5 Part 1
Day 7 Part 1
Day 1 Part 2
Day 3 Part 2
Day 5 Part 2
Day 7 Part 2
Day 2 Part 1
Day 4 Part 1
Day 6 Part 1
Day 8 Part 1
Day 2 Part 2
Day 4 Part 2
Day 6 Part 2

Day 1 Part 1


It went kind of smoothly from that point on. We had no trouble at the customs or with our luggage, and we boarded the next train into the city (see photo). For about an hour and 20 minutes, we gathered our first impressions of the country. The thing that struck me most was the tininess of the roads (outside of Tokyo). There were very few roads that allowed going in both directions. I could even imagine the car owners having a hard time getting their vehicle into the garages. Luckily, most Japanese people stick to the more compact cars and are cautious drivers.

Apart from that, at least in Tokyo the majority of people use the Tokyo Metro System which is about as perfect as can be. It`s not that I've been around the world, but I've seen a lot of subway train carts. And I never encountered trains like those in Tokyo. In Germany, you see, some of the trains are all thrashed up. On the outside, there's graffitti all over the metal parts, and sometimes even on the windows. Inside, the windows are scratched, there's permanent marker writing everywhere and the seats are either dirty or broken. And don't even think there's no litter in the carts.

In Japan, however, the trains are as neat as can be. They are not only on time, but they are always in perfect shape. Neither are they dirty nor broken. It's as good as it gets. Another thing is the users of the trains: Germans tend not to wait for people to get off the train, but to go in and stand in the doorway. They don't care if anyone else can't make it inside. Japanese people follow a certain pattern of letting anyone out, then going in as far as possible in order to allow everyone to ride that train. Perfect!


Machines and traffic

Okay, but my first day in Tokyo was not at all train-riding. After we got off the train, we helped us to some money and some drinks. To get money, we got into this ATM cell by the Japanese post. While I was lucky and understood the process, Sven didn't have any trouble either, this was the first moment Oliver was helpless. After 5 minutes, he gave up. At the end of the journey, his card did not work anywhere in the whole town, it seemed to be damaged. The second pic is from the first day, too. Even today, I don't know why it didn't work.



Then we got out of the (Ueno) station to get a drink, and this was my first impression (see photo). It was almost quiet. There was no one honking, no loud cars speeding around, no noisy trucks. The place was slightly crowded and the roads were full, but everything felt peaceful. Only a few steps away, we could see the entrance to Ueno Park. Later in our journey, we would go there.


Our first encounter with Japanese drink vending machines was surprising and refreshing. At this point, we didn't know that they actually sell cold and even hot drinks in cans in these. We helped ourselves to a Fanta Lemon or Grape or whatever, and then we returned to the station. We looked for the subway train of the Hibiya line that would take us close to our hotel. we got of the train one stop early, and so our 10 minute walk turned into an hour or so. We finally got rid of our suitcases, and then we went off exploring the city. For our first day, we settled on visiting the Asakusa Shrine, mostly because we could make it there on foot.

vending machines


Marching on

On our way through rather silent roads, we stumbled into a small shrine with a little park (see these 3 photos). I don't really know anything about the Shinto religion, and in addition to that I don't care much about these sights. This little park was devoid of people. There were 3 German tourists, one old woman and a mother with her 3 year-old daughter. Again, another quiet place to relax in the middle of this mega-city.



From there on, the surroundings improved: the area we got into seemed wealthier, the buildings grew taller and the architecture became more impressive. One of my favourite photos I took will close this part of my report. It shows an elevated highway in front of really nice buildings. The black one with the golden ...eerh... thing on top of it is the headquarters of the Asahi Brewery. The Japanese really are fond of architecture. It's a little bit like Bob the Builder: "Can we fix it? Yes, we can," but the Japanese motto is "What's the point in doing this? - Showing that we CAN do it! - Okay, let's do it!" They don't just built a skyscraper, they build an especially good-looking one. I like that attitude. Ganbatte!