We flew from Aberdeen Airport to Amsterdam by KLM, then on to Tokyo for a 10 and a half hour flight. It seemed very long, but it was actually manageable.
Akiko’s parents met us and took our suitcases to our accommodation. Akiko had arranged this before our arrival, because we had to take a train from Narita Airport to our place, and we would not have managed to bring all the suitcases and a walker at the same time. We had our lunch and waited for Hochang and Akiko’s dad to drop off our cases. Hochang then made up the beds and put our cases into the rooms where we would be sleeping.
The house had two floors, connected by very steep and narrow stairs, so we had to be careful when coming down. It was a nice house, and we enjoyed staying there.
After a long lie-in on Tuesday, we saw the neighbouring town. We visited a “100 yen” shop. 100 yen is roughly the same amount as 90p, so it is a Japanese version of Poundland. They had all sorts of things like toiletries, clothing, stationery, etc. The city of Tokyo seemed very enjoyable. The weather was very warm. The people in Tokyo were very kind to us. Not many of them spoke English, and we did not speak Japanese, but when one of us said the word ‘toilet,’ they made an ‘ah’ sound, and pointed to give us directions.
On Wednesday, we took the local train to Tokyo and caught the bullet train to Odawara Castle. We had looked forward to the bullet train even before the holiday began, and our first impression on the train was that it was very clean. The reason why was that there were ladies in pink uniforms who got on the train, turned all the seats around, replaced seat covers, and cleaned the carriage to make sure the train was ready for the next people. It was very punctual, and air-conditioned. This was very helpful on hot days in Tokyo; people would have passed out otherwise.
We went by bullet train to another house for Ascension day. The house was a bit bigger than the house we were staying in Tokyo. Matthew and Archie slept on the floor, because their room was in the traditional Japanese style. The mattress was nice and soft, but the floor was a bit hard. It was a different experience for them. We wanted to spend Ascension day in nature, as we do in Newton Dee, but in Tokyo there was not much nature to walk around in. So we went to a small town near Tokyo called Odawara. We slept overnight there and saw the nature.
On Thursday we had brunch at a place called The Bakery and Table. Akiko and Paul had a foot bath there. You can enjoy a foot bath as you eat. It was so warm and relaxing that we thought we would stay all day there! Then we visited an art gallery and museum. We saw the view over the lake towards Mount Fuji, expecting to see the mountain, but it was too cloudy. After the museum and art gallery, we caught the bullet train back to Tokyo. Whilst we were waiting for the train to come, there was music in the various stations, which was inspiring. It was nice to look out of the window of the train and watch the scenery going by.
We went on our local train to visit many places. We saw the great Buddha. We hadn’t realised how big it is. When we stood next to it, we felt like little ants. Later we relaxed while watching a baseball game. Akiko’s mother prepared supper for us. It was delicious.
All the food in Japan was great. It was very tasty. It was completely different from what we normally get. Of course, we have very good food in Newton Dee, but here it was very different. For example, we went to Izakaya, a traditional Japanese pub, which sells food and drink. We could order a little portion of many types of food. Normally, we would expect a waiter or a waitress to come to our table and to ask us what we wanted. However, in Izakaya, we could do it by a tablet PC; one can tab the button showing up on the screen to make an order, and the order will be passed on to the kitchen. Then the food will be brought to the table in no time!
Get yourself a book on Tokyo, and then go. There are many places to enjoy. Of course, there were some moments we had cultural shocks. For example, there were people wearing white masks, bus drivers wearing white gloves, station staff wearing white gloves. But, thanks to these shocks, we have learnt how people live and work in Japan.