Pike's Tokyo Weekend Tour
Just thinking the word, "Tokyo," probably invokes some pretty strong images. I can think of a couple. Ever flowing masses of faceless people commuting to work and home. Skyscrapers dominating the sky, sucking away the warmth of the sky and returning only neon light.
But, as I left Tokyo after my trip, I found myself thinking of new words (almost unthinkable words 3 days before) to describe my experience. Those words were friendly, cozy and green.
I went to Tokyo on the weekend from June 17th to June 19th (2005) as a birthday trip with my girlfriend. We stayed two nights in Shinagawa and those two nights completely changed my view of Tokyo. Shinagawa Ward is in the south of central Tokyo. It is connected to the rest of central Tokyo by the Yamanote train line and the Keikyu train line.
Going to Tokyo: Hiroshima -> Hiroshima Airport -> Haneda Airport -> Shinagawa
I live in Japan but Kawajiri is a long way from Tokyo. Alas, it's even a long way from Hiroshima and Hiroshima's airport, in turn, is over an hour from any major city in Hiroshima Prefecture. I could probably get to China faster than Tokyo. It's easily a five hour trip one way! I really do pity the poor English teachers who come to Japan for an exciting time and get placed out on some island in the Pacific. This probably explains why we choose to leave on friday after work.
We left Hiroshima's bus center around 6:30 via the airport limousine (1,300 yen - one way) and headed to the airport for our 8:10 flight to Tokyo. The bus center is in the Sogo department store in downtown Hiroshima so we bought our dinner in the basement grocery store after I arrived from Kure City on the bus. Actually, most inner-city department stores in Japan tend to have grocery store in the basement. We missed getting the late night discount by probably 30 minutes or so.
Hiroshima Airport was recently renovated and is quite a decent airport but the lack of international flights, the premium price over train tickets and its location out in the woods have conspired to keep me from flying out of it. We were a good hour early for our flight and that's the way to do it in Japan. Security checks in Japan for domestic flights are through and there's no chance they'll just wink and check you in late even if you're the only person on the flight. Only after every last bag is x-ray'ed, pockets probed and bottles of tea checked are you cleared from security. I really wonder if they would let me drink from the bottle in lieu of scanning it. I doubt it. Our flight to Tokyo was late arriving so we were a few minutes late boarding and taking off.
Arriving in Tokyo
After a beautiful night time flight, we touched down at Haneda in Tokyo at around 9:40. The moon was visible out the window and the city lights coming into Haneda were amazing. (Note to self: It's far more classy to just take the window seat than trying to lean over someone to look) From Haneda its a 25 minute trip on the Tokyo Monorail to Hamamatsucho Station on the Yamanote train line which encircles central Tokyo. Shinagawa is 2 stops west on the Yamanote from there. It is mainly a hotel and residential area and really has very few (worthwhile) sightseeing spots. But, its quieter district of Tokyo and on the Yamanote train line which makes it easy to get to most parts of Tokyo.
We bought breakfast at Shinagawa Station's convenience store and, in the dark, bumbled around through a shopping mall, past the IMAX theatre and on to our hotel. I turned 25 at midnight on this night and the only thing I'm saying is I got lots of good presents in bed.
Posted: April 17, 2011 Updated: February 8, 2015