We managed to get up just after 3 am, and got dressed and had breakfast before heading off to Kitakyushu airport. Sakiko and Taeko came with us to the airport and Seio drove this time.
We checked in our baggage – Seio’s suitcase was a little over the allowed limit for this flight, but the charge wasn’t too bad! We said our goodbyes to Sakiko and Taeko and went through to the boarding lounge.
The flight was a little bit bumpy out of Kitakyushu, but was fairly smooth for the rest of the flight and we arrived on time at Haneda airport, Tokyo, just before 7:00am. We made our way downtown to Akasaka via taxi, and arranged to leave our luggage at the hotel reception until the 2pm check-in time.
The hotel was right next to the Metro station and so it was very easy to get around. We bought a one-day pass for about £7 and went off to do some sightseeing.
First of all, I wanted to see the old-style Japanese shitamachi or downtown, and so we headed out to Asakusa and Kaminari-Mon. On the way, we caught the Tokyo rush-hour and ended up like sardines in a tin for the first part of the journey!! After we passed through the financial district, a lot of people got off the train and we could breathe again!! Asakusa was a fun place to visit and walk through, although we did get harassed a number of times by the Rickshaw runners!! From Asakusa, we went on to Akihabara (the electronics mecca) and had a good look around the Yodobashi Camera shop and its 6 or 7 floors of discount electronic goods! We got a bit hungry after all the window shopping and decided to grab some lunch on the 7F at an interesting bar/restaurant that had every kind of Sho-chu (alcohol) you could imagine. Seio and I had some Kurobuta Pork dishes with rice and pickles. Next we got back on the Metro and made our way to Roppongi Hills and Azabu-Juban-Gai. After a little walk around the shops and surrounding area, we headed back to Akasaka to check in at the hotel. We had been upgraded to a nicer room, which was very nice, although most rooms in Tokyo hotels are very small to begin and the upgrade was more about luxury anther than space!! Anyway, we took a little nap before getting togged up to go and meet some of Seio’s friends from the IIEL in London. Teruko came all the way from Osaka to see us, and Suzuki-san, and Nemoto-san had both made special journeys to meet up with us. We had a nice Chinese meal near Shimbashi Station before heading off for some cocktails at the Imperial Hotel near Hibiya. (Thank you Suzuki-san!!) We chatted about all sorts of things, and it was nice to find out what everyone had been up to since they qualified as Japanese teachers. Teruko had to catch a bus back to Osaka, and so we all parted ways just after 11pm.
We got back to our hotel and crashed!!! It had been a long, but very fun day!!