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Day 3: The Perfect Tokyo Day

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First full day in Tokyo, sun out to greet us. All started very well with some nice coffee and toast at the local Dutour Cafe which was to become a common pattern over the weeks before heading to Shinjuku. Sarah was very keen to get up a major building to get a feel for the city so we headed straight for the metropolitan building for some pretty outstanding (not to mention free!) views from the 42nd floor. Quite difficult to conceive of a city that is so highrise and so sprawled at the same time, we had a small bet about how many people live in the area but at 6, 12 and 15 million I have the feeling that we are all undercalling it by quite a significant margin.

From the towers we headed across to Shinjuku Gyoen, a large park famed for its cherry blossom. We weren't to be disappointed as clearly this is one of the last weekend days of the blossom and the locals were determined to make the most of it. Literally thousands of Tokyo-ites of all ages sitting under the trees with some fairly sophisticated picnic hampers enjoying the sunshine and the last of the blooms. We wandered all the way through the park admiring the serenity of so many people taking in the air replete with girls dressed in cherry blossom matching outfits and legions of old ladies with tripods (Sanj now has something to aspire to). Even the cherry blossom ice cream tasted amazing.

From this park we crossed into Yoyogi park and walked down some beautifully dark tree lined avenues. We passed a park employee who gets my vote for the most zen job imaginable as he meticulously and tediously swept clean all the fallen leaves from the gravel path. Judging by the number of trees and the size of the path, this may be all he does every single day! In the middle of the park we came across a large shrine which appears to be THE place to have your wedding ceremony. Seemingly endless processions of extremely well turned out wedding parties taking it in turns to cross the temple courtyard with about as many tourists snapping them in their kimono's as there was relatives following behind.

From here we took the main avenue down to the bottom of the park which ends at Harijuku station. This lived up to expectations with all sorts of weird and wonderful teenagers dressed up as goths, fairies, punks etc. although it almost had the feel of a tourist attraction. The streets around the station were incredibly busy and we struggled to make our way to what I guess would the equivalent of Camden market with suppliers of all the crazy kinds of pink punk and Little Bo Peep outfits you could want.

After some great terayaki we fought our way back to Harijuku station where the ladies had seen some shoes they wanted to check out. I went back to the south of the park to find that the rockabilly crowd had arrived and managed to grab a few more pictures of the Japanese Elvis's. Finally we checked out the impossibly trendy Omote Sando. Much more trendy than Ginza but no less high-end its own way, lots of little alleys with trendy local brands or US boutiques. Had a quick browse but didn't find anything that I felt brave enough to check the price tag on. Slowly made our way to the end of the shopping area and decided that was quite enough for one perfect day.

After dinner with Sanj's colleague Yorika we decided to try and check out a bit of the social scene but were a bit disappointed to find that most things in the area were locking up rather than gearing up. Ended up traveling back across to Shibuya to find a very cool chill out bar called Insomnia. All red carpets and cool lighting but our lets go with the flow approach with cocktail ordering left us with three drinks with far more cream, bean juice and other randomness than one would have desired. Stayed late discussing the trials of relationships and braved our first taxi ride home at about three am - 3,000 yen isn't absolutely exorbitant but you wouldn't want to be doing it all the time.


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