Usually, Japanese national holidays are on a Monday, which is useless to me because Sunday and Monday are my regular days off. But this Wednesday is Japan’s National Foundation day (February 11, 660 BC the first Japanese emperor was crowned), which is an official national holiday! So I took Tuesday off effectively creating a four-day-weekend! Which shouldn’t be wasted on doing nothing special, so this morning Yasu and I hopped on the bullet train to Tokyo. And not just any bullet train, no the new 500 series Shinkansen, which actually looks like a very long bullet or huge snake.
First thing we did in Tokyo was drop our suitcases off at the hotel in Maihama, where Disney Sea and Disneyland are located, which we’ll be visiting this week. We enjoyed exploring Ikspiari, Japan’s version of ‘Downtown Disney’, a shopping, dining and entertainment complex, before going back to Tokyo.
Having been to Tokyo twice before, I’ve only a few things left on my things-to-see list, one of them was Odaiba. One of the world’s largest Ferris wheels is located there and I wanted to ride it.
You know, I’m actually really afraid of heights and even though Japan’s numerous glass elevators have numbed the fear a little, a shaking Ferris wheel gondola, 115 meters above the ground can still scare me shitless. Maybe, riding the Sky Wheel on an extremely windy day wasn’t such a smart idea…
After my panic attack on the big wheel, we set out to find the Statue of Liberty, that’s right Tokyo has its own. It’s smaller than the original in New York, but besides that it looks pretty damn similar. I’m not sure why Odaiba has a replica of the statue, but apparently it’s just one of many replicas around the world.
Facebook, a social networking site, is good to keep in touch with people from your present but even better to get back in touch with people from your past. A couple of weeks ago, I started talking to one of my old classmates from the international secondary school I went to in the Netherlands. Takeshi moved back to Japan many years ago and now lives in Yokohama, so we decided to catch up over dinner in Tokyo. He brought another old classmate along, Norikatsu, who now lives in Tokyo.
Takeshi and Nori treated us to a delicious dinner at a Mexican restaurant, and we spent some four hours going down memory lane. It was a little strange to see them after 14 years, but it was also really fun.