Japan, December 25th 2014

After the cancellation of our original flight, I tweeted Virgin Atlantic and jokingly asked if they would change our return flight for free – waving the £100 admin fee. To my surprise, they phoned me immediately and did everything they could to help. We were due to return on Christmas Eve, but with their help, we rearranged our departure date to Boxing Day. This meant that we could spend Christmas Day in Tokyo – a dream come true. Whilst still waiting to collect our luggage at Heathrow from the broken airplane, I tried to find somewhere cool to have Christmas lunch. I guessed that as we were almost guaranteed to be living off rice and beef combos for the duration of the vacation, I settled on finding somewhere for a traditional Christmas dinner; turkey, sprouts, the whole deal. Before our bags could be unloaded, I had booked us into The Hobgoblin Pub in Roppongi for Christmas buffet. Sorted.

“It looked like the shittest episode of CSI, ever. Maybe because crime is so low, they have nothing better to do?”

Christmas morning arrived and after exchanging gifts in our hotel room, we set out across town to find the Pub I’d booked into. Roppongi is very much an area for Westerners and ex-pats; which is why it’s one of the few places you can find someone serving a traditional Christmas dinner. The Hobgoblin’s Christmas buffet came highly recommended from reviews online and as we’d arrived a little early, we had a time to check out the neighbourhood. Exiting the station and off to find somewhere to grab a coffee, we stumbled across the aftermath of a road traffic accident. A motorcyclist had been knocked off his bike and both the paramedics and police were on the scene. The rider was strapped into a stretcher and awaiting to be put into the ambulance. Now, we don’t know the facts of the accident; but he was conscious, not showing any hint of pain and the only sign of him falling off a bike was a small rip in his already tatty jacket. His bike was standing by the side of the road next to the car that bumped into him and the police had closed one lane of traffic. You could have been forgiven for thinking someone had been killed. Anyway, we popped into Tully’s for a coffee, amazed at the sheer amount of police required to clear up a relatively innocuous, slow speed accident. After coffee, the scene of the accident took a more bizarre twist as another vehicle arrived to join the (now three) police cars. Between 5-8 men in blue overalls began to inspect the road, take measurements and photograph the area. It looked like the shittest episode of CSI, ever. Maybe because crime is so low, they have nothing better to do? We carried on about our business and went looking for the pub.

Not far from The Hobgoblin, we found ourselves cooing over puppies and kittens in a pet store. You may or may not agree with this kind of pet store (we don’t), but as this is a wealthy area of town and it was a large, well staffed shop; the animals were obviously well cared for. Before Emma could buy a £2,500 kitten, we left the pet shop and went into the pub. It was like walking into the Queen Vic. If the landlord wasn’t Irish, he probably would have been dressed as a Pearly King. We were shown to our table and swiftly served our starter of smoked salmon and Champagne. Once the starter was cleared, we were free to head up to the buffet to get our main course, but not wanting to appear too keen, we waited for someone else to go first. After about 15 minutes we were starting to get a bit twitchy. Emma was sussing out the order of people who had been served their starters around the same time as us, trying to gauge when someone was going to make a break for the turkey. However, another 5-10 minutes seemed to pass and nobody had made a move. With a glass of Cider in me, I gained enough courage to stand up, be a man and march with purpose towards my Christmas dinner. As soon as Emma and I had lifted the lid on the cranberry sauce a queue consisting of EVERYONE in the restaurant formed behind us. The inherent British politeness combined with the inherent Japanese politeness had created a room full of people too polite to feed themselves. We could have been there all day unless I hadn’t had a couple of drinks! Dinner was awesome, only £26 each (nearly £50 a head cheaper than our local pub in Somerset) and we were well and truly stuffed.

“The inherent British politeness combined with the inherent Japanese politeness had created a room full of people too polite to feed themselves”

We walked back in the direction of the station and to our amazement they were still marking out the accident scene. Two police cars and a load of CSI agents were still beavering away trying to look busy, closing one lane and one slip road to traffic in central Tokyo. We headed for Roppongi Hills, one of the tallest buildings in Tokyo and one of the best places to see the city from above. If we were in the UK, we would have had to go home, but because everything is open on December 25th, we visited a German market that was being held at Roppongi Hills, drunk some mulled wine and generally wandered around in a daze until dinner had settled. Like most of the tall buildings in Tokyo, Roppongi Hills has an Observation Floor; a great place to walk around on one of the higher floors and get a good view of the city. However, Roppongi Hills holds an ace card over many others and as long as the weather conditions are ok, you can do something pretty unique. For a small fee, Roppongi Hills allow you to access the helipad on the roof of the skyscraper. 55-56 floors above the city and exposed to the elements, it was the best post-Christmas Dinner walk I’ve ever had.

As this was our last day in Tokyo, we wanted to make sure we didn’t waste it, so after another drink at the top of Roppongi Hills, we make our way back across the city to Asakusa. We wanted to visit the old amusement park before we left – and do a bit more shopping, obviously. Unfortunately, we left it too late. We were sidetracked and the amusement park had closed before we got there. Slightly disheartened, we took out our rage on the shops, hitting them hard, buying a couple of nice antique kimonos and a couple of souvenirs for ourselves. Dinner was had in Tiger Gyoza Hall (highly recommended) and it was amazing. We’ve eaten so much, we’re so tired and we really need another vacation as soon as possible.