In recent months Tokyo has seen a huge surge in visitors from overseas and among them were my eldest sister and family. For siblings living in different country’s we haven’t done too badly with three meetings in three different countries in the last seven months! First there was my trip to Batam in Indonesia to see them last October and that was followed soon after back home in England for Christmas.
Having been on a whirlwind tour of Osaka, Nara, Kyoto and Hiroshima (including some great hospitality from my in-laws) the five of them arrived at Shinagawa station via Shinkansen. It was then onto a packed train to ride a few stops on up to Harajuku station where they had booked an apartment (via airbnb) on the backstreet running parallel to the overly crowded Takeshita Dori shopping street.
Having thrown the bags in we went more or less straight out for a quick look around Harajuku followed by a visit to Takadanobaba to eat out at Hamazushi; a kaiten-zushi place selling all manner of bastardised sushi and touch screen ordering which everyone, particularly the kids, really enjoyed. It was in there that they finally got to meet my wife too which was all the more remarkable given that they had stayed with her parents for a couple of nights before coming to Tokyo.
We met up again the following night too. After work I stopped off in Shibuya and took them for a wander down Center Gai where we looked around, had some dinner and then headed on to Harajuku by foot and my wife got to see their living quarters.
Sunday brought about the only full day we’d get to hang out together. We started with a visit to the Shinjuku metropolitan government building in the skyscraper district which allows you to ascend to its 45th floor observation deck for views of the concrete jungle as far as the eye can see.
Akihabara electric town was up next beginning with a visit to a maid cafe. One of the very first entries on Tokyo Fox in February 2006 was about these themed cafe’s which were fairly new back then. Due to other visitors over the years I’ve been an occasional visitor to these places (that’s my excuse anyway!) but the clientele has changed quite a bit over that time. That can actually be said about the whole of Akihabara itself which during my time has gone from a town full of independent electric stores to a more family-orientated place with the addition of restaurant chains, convenience stores, other ubiquitous shops and souvenir shops seemingly geared up to the vast number of Chinese tourists in the area.
For my nephew Eifion, the main thing he wanted to see in Tokyo was the Star Wars shop in Koenji which he didn’t stop going on about from the moment I saw him at Shinagawa (and probably before that too) that first day they arrived. We finally put him out of his misery early afternoon and went there which I was more than happy to do.
We then took the short journey from there to the Tokyo Fox Global Operations Centre in Shinjuku-ku to chill out for a bit, see the place and let my nieces play on my wife’s piano. Eifion was also keen to visit our place to see and play with some of my Star Wars toys and figures and he finally got to play with a proper lightsaber although he kind of did use it back in September 2008 when everyone was back home for my sister Lorna’s wedding.
Whilst I was at work on the Monday they were at Tokyo Disneyland for yet another rain-soaked day (they suffered thundery showers on their day in Kyoto a week earlier) but once I finished at 9pm I popped in to see them on the way home on their final night and that was it. Short and sweet but so nice to have some visitors!