Blog: Destination – Japan (Tokyo Part 1) by Leon Matigian
“Just do it” comes to mind when I think of our 4 week tour of Japan. For years we hesitated going there, but now that we have seen much of the world we decided it was time to see and appreciate Japan.
As it turned out it was the best travel decision we’ve ever made in years. The people are wonderful and very polite; most of the young speak some English and willing to assist with directions; the train and bus system is the best we’ve experienced around the world and very, very punctual; English signs almost everywhere so you won’t/can’t get lost; people are very respectful and well mannered; we never ever felt uncomfortable and it would be one of the safest places we’ve ever visited; hardly ever saw any beggars or homeless people in the streets; cleanliness of streets, parks and public places is just wonderful; toilets and conveniences are everywhere (Europe could learn from them) and they are clean and free……….just do it.
In Tokyo, we went to Sumo wrestling match, which we immensely enjoyed. Watching these big huge “whales of humanity” contesting each other’s strength was truly amazing. They are national heroes, each weighing well over 130kg, with hair in samurai-style topknot and a loin-cloth wrapped around their huge girths. There isn’t a bad seat in the vast stadium and just listening to the crowd chanting, screaming and yelling was an experience we will never forget.
Visiting the Tsukiji fish markets is a whole new experience for anyone. It is one of the largest fish markets around the world. Fishing boats start arriving very early in the morning and unload around 2000 tons daily to satisfy the Japanese people appetite. We wandered the market isles and saw things that we never thought/dreamt we could ever eat – tuna eyes! Yes!!!!!. There are several restaurants around the barrack-like buildings serving fresh fish. We decided to have sushi breakfast and it was just delicious as shown in the photo, something I will never forget.
Ueno park is one of the largest parks in Tokyo and one of the most popular with Japanese families on a days outing. It’s a cultural mecca with a number of attractions within and around the park, including the famous Toshogu shrine erected in 1651. To better appreciate the park, we headed straight to the free volunteers guide team and had Mr Juun take us around and give us a historical perspective. A wonderful experience.
Although we missed the blossoming cherry trees at the Imperial palace, we were lucky enough to be there when the azalea bushes and the beautiful Irises were in full bloom. The Japanese garden with the waterfall and manicured lawns and beautiful lakes are a must see.
All images by Leon Matigian. All rights reserved.
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