Written on the 12.05.15 at 21:16 (+9 GMT) at 3 Chome-23-3 Minamidai
After the initial tour around the house, I headed back down to their main living space where was introduced to Yoko’s husband, Aki.
At the grand old age of 44, Aki is a few years older than Yoko, yet they both look as if they’ve been drinking from the fountain of youth. I introduce myself, but it’s apparent that Aki’s English is more rudimentary than that of his wife; nevertheless, the man is a comic and like Yoko, exceptionally kind.
After 15 minutes or so, I headed back downstairs to my room to unpack. The room itself, as you saw in my previous post, easily holds a double bed, wardrobe, a television (of whom’s content it utterly captivating), a fridge and a window on the ceiling letting in more natural light to this offshoot of the house.
Stored at the bottom of my battered, 70l rucksack were a couple of gifts for my hosts.
I toyed over, for probably longer than any man should, over what makes a quintessentially British gift for two people that may never have visited Britain. My second thought was that I define myself as being more Yorkshire than British, so naturally, a box of humble Yorkshire Tea was my first choice. The second gift was a tiny bit more offbeat.
When I visited India way back in the summer of 2013, I took a few packs of black licorice which went down an absolute storm. It was this idea that led me to taking across a box of Bassett’s Licorice Allsorts.
I’m starting to wonder if I may have accidentally become the global face of licorice.
I’m pleased to say, dear readers, that my gifts were warmly accepted.
After exchanging further pleasantries with my hosts, and joking with Aki about the state of English football (very easily done with hand gestures) they encouraged me to head down to Shinjuku (Tokyo’s main transport Hub which houses the busiest railways station in the world and is a key commercial centre), a 25 minute walk East, to go up to the top of the Tokyo Metropolitan Building- the centre of the Japanese government. When I queried where Yoko said ‘Oh don’t worry, you cannot miss it’
At first, I wondered if I’d taken a wrong turn.
Then the universe ended.
Then it ended some more.
Not only is this monstrous building immediately striking, it’s also rather large. Standing at around a quarter of a mile high, it also has a free observatory for tourists. As the sun blazed down across the concrete Tokyoian expanse, Monday was the ideal day to get a birds eye view of the mega-city.The lobby has a small tourist centre and is a great place to pick up guides to the different districts of Tokyo with maps and recommendations!
It was about a 20 minute queue for the elevator going up and then this happened…
Yet it wasn’t the view that astounded me the most, it was, and I’m afraid to say this, that it turns out the Japanese are better at queuing than us Brits. Perhaps our only positive trait (drunk and disorderly doesn’t count apparently). Whilst waiting for the elevator, I noted that not only did the Japanese appear more patient when waiting, but there was a staff member that had been hired specifically to keep politely reminding me (and other Western buffoons) to stand two by two…hurrah…hurrah!
Eat your heart out Noah.
Even though it was damn humid, wanting to make the most of my time in Tokyo, I headed out to Shibuya briefly. It felt more like a fairground ride than a zebra crossing. I had way too much fun crossing the road. Being there during dust, I began to get a sense of why the word ‘neon’ has become synonymous with this Japanese metropolis.
That evening, I headed back to Yoko’s.
Or at least tried.
Heading East from Honancho station, I realised I couldn’t quite remember where I was supposed to be going.
Luckily, I struck up conversation with two female students from Rikkyo University, whose names I never got, but were both studying English and took a real interest into where in Britain I was from. I was touched by how complimentary they were of my basic command of the Japanese language.
Even though this was my first full day in Tokyo, I’m taken back by the overwhelming kindness of the Japanese people I’ve met so far.