Japan, December 21st 2014

Whilst incapacitated yesterday, the thought of a day walking around town was a distant dream as I drifted in and out of opiate induced unconsciousness. However, despite the pain this morning, I soldiered on like a little hero as we headed off to the station. Our destination was Ginza, a handful of stops on our metro line and within a reasonable taxi ride if I should be rendered disabled again.

Ginza is the Knightsbridge of Tokyo. Upmarket shops, up-their-own-ass shoppers and uptown girls for Billy Joel… probably. I’ve always felt uncomfortable in shops and areas such as these, so using my painful back as an excuse, I spent most of the morning lurking in and around the Gunma Prefecture store; a shop dedicated to Gunma products and services – a little piece of home in an otherwise alien environment. So whilst I spent my time snapping expensive cars and laughing with the Gunma staff, Emma¬†was enjoying breakfast at Tiffany’s and the experience of being in a Japanese episode of ‘Are You Being Served?’

At the weekend, from midday until around 5pm, the main roads in Ginza are closed to traffic and the town becomes one big pedestrian precinct. Tables and chairs appear from nowhere and people flood the streets. It’s a prime location for filming and photography. Emma had spotted a film crew and sent me a message saying she recognised them. As I hobbled down to meet her, I saw the same crew and asked them if they were NHK (the BBC of Japan) and if they were filming Cool Japan (one of our fave shows). They were and asked if we would like to be on it. Unfortunately, I had exhausted all my Japanese vocabulary by this point, so politely declined the opportunity. Maybe next time?!

We looked around a few more shops before heading towards Tokyo Station (we didn’t realise it was so close). We walked around the block and saw a couple of open-top tour buses. As it was barely above freezing and we were dressed for running in and out of warm shops – what better way would there be to spend the evening other than to sit on an exposed bus, on a guided tour we couldn’t understand, whilst still in pain from whatever is wrong with my back?

With tickets in hand and an insatiable appetite for the ridiculous, we jumped aboard the non-stop tour of Tokyo Bay. Despite our reservations, the tour started gently and it was great to see the city from a different perspective – that was until we hit the C1 ring road. Slowly negotiating the rush hour in Tokyo was great, but 50mph on the freeway was something else. With the wind in our hair, eyes streaming and frostbite rapidly setting in, we didn’t see much of Odaiba or the Bay as tears blurred our vision and laugher drowned out the incomprehensible Japanese guide. For the 20 minutes or so spent racing around the elevated dual carriageway; we, like most of the other passengers on board, tried to shelter ourselves from the elements until we hit traffic again. It was a hilarious trip and once we had thawed out, we agreed that we’d definitely do it again.

We walked back to Ginza and jumped on a train back to the hotel to relax and take more painkillers. We plan to visit the places we missed on our tour tomorrow – hopefully it’ll be a little warmer at walking pace.