Tokyo Blue (Najee)

Promises kept on the exact date of the anniversary of her surgery. To see real-life Disney characters and play in the snow. And the nearest place that could offer both was Japan. With only slightly more than a week to spare, we spent most of the days within Tokyo, absorbing the stylish and clean environment of the city with visits to Disney attractions. Originally planned for just a day each at Disneyland and Disneysea, we upgraded to the 3-day passport, since Fadelinah and I were totally smitten by the Disney magic, reliving what we could only capture on television back when we were little kids. Ooyah definitely has gotten a headstart.

I decided to just book a room at Hotel Sunroute Plaza Shinjuku throughout the whole duration, since lugging our bags to change hotel would be too troublesome. The Japan rail and metro stations were already complicated mazes themselves, let alone child-friendly. The trains were always full but thankfully we managed to escape the notorious packed-like-sardines situations. The hotel room booked was spacious enough for the 3 of us, having properly checked beforehand that it wasn’t tagged with the word ‘economy’; reference to less than standard bed dimensions. Luxurious hotel rooms in other countries would equate to Tokyo’s compact ones in terms of rates. We also decided to forego purchasing the Japan Rail Pass in Singapore as it didn’t prove economical given the side trip planned. The Suica Card was a better choice.

Our itinerary of visits to the various districts in Tokyo were cut short, partly due to the extended Disney visits and also the fact that Shinjuku, Shibuya, Harajuku and Ginza started to look the same after a while. Although Fadelinah got herself a Burberry Blue Label, shopping is not exactly the top draw in Tokyo. Ooyah got basically all the Disney stuff she wanted and for myself, a few T-shirts as always. No wonder the Japanese go crazy when they find themselves inside our shopping centres. A cashless society these Japanese are not, judging by the frequent cash rather than credit cards exchanged over the counters. I made the mistake of changing only $2000 worth of Yen before departure to cover our daily expenditures but found us running out of cash two thirds through our trip. The ATMs inside the 7-Elevens are lifesavers in this instance.

Food-wise, a tricky affair too as they really love their swines, I don’t know what made me think they only like fish. Equipped only with the words ‘arigato’ and ‘sumimasen’ in my Japanese vocabulary, conversing was difficult but technology came to the rescue yet again in the form of written translations through an iPhone app. All I had to do was typed in English and flash the interpreted version to the locals. There are Turkish and Indian cafes around and essentials like a portable cooker and utensils that we brought along also proved handy, not forgetting the ‘halal’ food packed into our luggage prior to arrival.

We went to the typical tourist spots, at least as far as our legs could carry us, to places like the observatories at  Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building to have a panoramic view of the city, the Meiji Jingu shrine buildings at Yoyogi Park, the loyal Hachiko statue and had our lattes in Starbucks overlooking the famous crossing to watch the scene from the ‘Lost in Translation’ movie unfold.

Disneyland and Disneysea were unforgettable, especially the rides and parades; the latter worth waiting for compared to the queues for rides that could last more than an hour for the popular ones. While Ooyah was more than thrilled hugging and posing with the many Disney characters on site, Fadelinah was almost brought to tears by the ‘It’s A Small World’ boat ride, so engaging that it was. Whereas for me, never did I imagine the Big Band Beat led by Mickey Mouse to bring the house down with big band and swing tunes. They even did my favorite ‘Sing Sing Sing’. Between both resorts, Disneysea wins hands down, as agreed by many who went to both. Disneyland gave us enchanting parades and the fireworks behind the Disney castle scene, which those born in the 70’s would identify as the intro prior to any Disney programmes on television back then. Disneysea, on the other hand, is the only one in the world and lends an entirely different feel to the whole Disney experience. Needless to say, we never did manage to cover all the rides, even if we had spent a week there. We hope to return perhaps during one of the spring seasons.

The final day before departure was reserved for visiting the snowy peaks of Gala Yuzawa, but due to a thunderstorm during that particular morning, the resort was closed and we had to change to the Prince Snow Resort at Karuizawa instead. We took the Nagano-Joetsu route on the Shinkansen. A ride so smooth and fast that I wish we had one in Singapore to destinations in Malaysia and Thailand.

Tokyo was an eye-opener for us. It was amazing to watch the Tokyoites go about their daily routines, so chaotic yet organised at the same time. Stylish people they are that even the few homeless people we saw looked decent compared to their Southern counterparts. Everybody cleaned up after their meals and return the trays back to the counters, something we had to keep reminding ourselves to do every time. I found the quirky sides of Tokyo more amusing; ranging from the trivial to the adult kinds.

This Tokyo trip was the furthest the 3 of us had ventured and God willing, we’ll be on a longer one come next long school holidays. Fadelinah wants a Turkey-Greece combo, whereas I am more than happy with a seat inside the Emirates Stadium.

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~ by blackcadillac73 on December 30, 2010.

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