Since we were all wiped from yesterday’s excursion, were were happy to hear that the boat would not arrive in Yokohama till around 2pm. This meant we could sleep in, get in a good strength workout at the gym, and eat a big lunch before exploring the port. We did not book an excursion that day and planned on maybe traveling into Tokyo. Maybe not.
In the afternoon a big group of us disembarked from the ship and walked into quite a dreary and rainy day. After mingling with some protesters walking through the streets of Yokohama, we found the metro stop. Some of us decided to take the train into Tokyo while others wanted to go back to the ship.
You can guess which group Peter and I were in. Onward to Tokyo!
The Tokyo public transportation system is kind of a nightmare for non-Japanese speaking people. The stations are big, confusing, and crowded and we struggled finding our way into the city. But we had one landmark as our destination.
Probably two hours of traveling, getting lost, and asking for directions later, we made it. Walking from the metro stop to the tower was easy. You can see it from mile away! It’s like the Eiffel Tower of the East. Big, orange, and brilliant.
After walking in the rain and in the dark for almost half an hour, we were relieved to pay the fee and ride to the top of the tower. It was so worth it. Tokyo is beautiful at night. On the streets of Tokyo, the city seems almost too quiet and deserted. But from above, Tokyo comes alive with sheer size and magnitude.
We explored the observatory for a while, eventually making our way to another level with conveniently placed panes of glass on the floor. Although I was once a 3 meter diver, I am scared of heights. However, I managed to step onto the glass floor, fear gripping my chest, and survive. Whew!
Who needs the Eiffel Tower?
Our next mission was dinner. It was almost 8pm and we were all starving. On the way we passed a temple and more baby Jizo statues all in a row with their red knit caps, bibs, and pinwheels. They are really kind of creepy.
It took us forever to find a restaurant that was not either full or closed to foreigners. It was frustrating to find small restaurants packed with only men or bigger restaurants with open tables but no room for white people. I felt like Mary and Joseph at the inn.
Eventually we found a restaurant that was completely empty and welcoming in an alleyway. And guess what… it was a CHINESE restaurant!! Peter started chatting away with the cook and waitress and we all started to laugh. Of course we would end up eating Chinese food in Japan. We realized the place was empty because of the China/Japan conflict. Just like Japanese owned places were closed or empty in China, Chinese owned places in Japan were closed or empty.
At this point we were just happy to be eating food, no matter what the cuisine. I also appreciated my country of residence so much more. While in Japan, China felt like home.
Bellies full, we made our way back to Yokohama. First we had to use a public restroom before we left. Why? The amazing Japanese toilets! I had my first experience with a heated seat, pleasing sounds of waterfalls, and yes, a bidet. What have I been missing all my life? They need to introduce these toilets to China STAT. Well maybe they should just introduce toilets period. Although I have to say, squatting above a hole in the ground does strengthen your legs.
How did that tangent happen?? Anyways…
This time the trip took only an hour or so since we had a slightly better idea of how to navigate the public transportation system. We still asked for directions maybe 5 times. We were also packed in the train like sardines for a good amount of time. It was quite the cultural experience. At one point I was butt to butt with some old Japanese man and I literally could not shift an inch in the opposite direction. At least I could see over everybody and make faces at Peter.
Back in Yokohama it was pouring rain and we got soaked walking back to the boat. Peter and I stayed in that night, watching movies and passing out early.
Good thing, we had a 5:30am wake up call! There was more of Tokyo to come…