Eleven hours through the night in a plane are enough to land from little Austria in another world. The destination of my journey this time leads me into the contemplative loneliness of New Zealand. On the way south a stopover in Tokyo was necessary, so it was a good opportunity for a short stay of 3 days. Sounds sufficient and actually a good idea, one should think.
The city of Tokyo is about 5 times as big as Graz, but has about 9.2 million inhabitants – the Tokyo area is about 20% smaller than Styria and about 37.6 million people live there – this makes the Tokyo area the largest metropolitan region on earth.
Looking at the facts, one should actually realize that a reasonable sightseeing in a city of this size can never go out in such a short time. The hotel was located outside the city centre close to the airport, a thing that resulted in that I could spend approximately 3 – 4 hours per day in public transport, depending on the intensity. Buses and subway are clean and fast, but nevertheless, with these distances it took a long time to get to the respective destination.
Secondly, with this mass of people, absolutely nothing can happen fast and smoothly. There are always thousands of people who want to visit the same place at the same time. This then inevitably leads to bottlenecks at entrances, cash desks or lifts and of course this leads to long queues and additional waiting time. Thus, there was not a single place, no matter how unspectacular, no restaurant, no shop, in the whole Tokyo where I did not have to queue and wait for a long time. What is most fascinating is the calmness of the people, for whom this “queuing up” is obviously a natural part of their daily life.
In the ticket office area of the Tokyo Zoo about 1500 people were queuing for tickets, a good reason for me to let the panda bears go. At the Skytree – the highest tower of the city the predicted waiting time was about 6 hours. But there I was lucky that there was a premium ticket for “international guests”, which cost twice as much, but reduced the waiting time for the lift to the 1st platform at 350 m height to a sensational 20 min.
The third reason why such a blue-eyed tourist program gets quite confused are the huge underground shopping malls within the big traffic junctions, partly distributed on several floors. Hundreds, maybe even thousands of shops in a confusing tangle of endless corridors (whereby each corridor looks the same) – right when one comes out of the subway. Below Tokyo Station I got lost. It took more than an hour to find a suitable exit. The infrastructure is perfect for exit-seekers, the catering is just right – German beer included.
Altogether, 5 – 6 hours were lost daily as a result. So there is only little time left to deal with the interesting things yourself. Thus, one has to change to high-speed sightseeing in order to visit at least some interesting places. Without exception, all sightseeings were impressive, the people were polite, friendly and nice, a special experience are of course the colourful and busy shopping and entertainment streets at night.
But also the view from the 45th floor of Tokyo City Hall at night is an impressive experience shared with hundreds of others…
The two most famous temples of Tokyo were also on the visit program. First of all, the Meiji Temple, which is used for traditional Japanese wedding ceremonies in chord. The ceremonies are very interesting for non-Japanese people. In any case, it is an extremely stylish way to give up personal freedom.
Senso-ji Temple – this is Tokyo’s oldest and most famous Buddhist temple complex and at the same time the highlight of gathering people in a small space. If someone should suffer from ennochlophobia, this attraction should be avoided at all costs or only visited in the company of an emergency team.
Japan as a whole is definitely worth a trip – unfortunately the timing I chose was bad. On occasion I will visit Japan properly, but at least 10 days are estimated for Tokyo. Now I’m going to fly for the next 11 hours to Auckland – the land of Kiwi’s and Hobbits. I expect to be able to report from there with more content.
See you soon, Henry