Saturday, September 08, 2012

Tokyo - where dreams come true!

Joined by my wife, I was in steamy Yokohama. Not as steamy as last August where the heat was unbearable. Not much different this time around, but those two or three degrees were noticeable. Suddenly I was catching trains and waiting for people at Yokohama station as I had less than twelve months ago. It was a very strange déjà vu.
Tokyo from the tower.
 Saturday the 11th and it was into Tokyo for lunch and shenanigans with some of my wife’s friends. Tokyo, how crazy does it get in August? Anser: Pretty bloody crazy. So many people wherever I went, the familiar-ish area if Shibuya where the Haichi dog lives is where we met. Haichi is a dog who used to come to the Shibuya station every day to meet his owner. When his owner died for years the dogs used to come and wait on him regardless. They made a statue to the dog  which is now a very popular meeting place in the area.
Lunch went well. The next day I returned to Tokyo and visited Akihabara again where the street was cordoned off to traffic and people could walk where they liked. I also went to the Tokyo tower. It’s the tallest tower in Japan, a telecommunications type deal with a great observation deck. Hot though it was, the day was pretty clear for Tokyo standards and I could see well across most of the giant, sprawling city.
 On the last day my wife and I went to a place so many Japanese people believe is heaven on Earth – Tokyo Disneyland. We bought a ticket for around half the normal price which only allowed entry frim five pm to close (ten) and I thought that sounded extremely reasonable.
Yokohama at night. Not bad at all!

Welcome to Tokyo Disneyland!
 Not wanting to be overly critical I have to say that Tokyo Disneyland is just one big grab for your money. Don’t mind how much entry was, the car park alone was $25. Then you have to pay to take the train from the car park to the entrance. The queues were already banked up a long way. Japan sometimes is nothing more than a big wait! They open the gates at 5pm, not before, and everyone piles in. Slowly, because every ticket must be checked. Once we were in we headed to the famous splash mountain. Wait time for the ride? 160 minutes! What the?
In fairness I was warned the wait times would be very long. I just presumed that meant 45-60 minutes. I hadn’t envisaged 160 minutes! But we were lucky, there was a fast lane for those who didn’t have to go together, that was 30 minutes or so. We decided to take that lane, and the ride was the best one I took. The wait was indeed only about 30 minutes. The queue went up into the mountain and around inside it, but the end was outside. I couldn’t believe it was so long. Really, who would wait 3 hours for a ride? That’s what the wait was at Space Mountain, so I had to pass on hat one,
Tokyo Disneyland is pretty much what you’d expect a Japanese Disneyland to be. They have the castle and so forth. The food wasn’t too expensive which is a bonus. Must have been 200,000 people there or so, but I’m only guessing. I tried Thunder Mountain, Peter Pan, a steam train ride and finally the Haunted House, which managed ti break down when we were on it.
We left at around 10.15pm. Train back to the car, then, as if the waiting hadn’t been long enough, we had to get out of the car park. This took nearly an hour. No-one around to direct traffic, just a non-moving free for all,. Ended up (following a woman’s lead) picking up a witches hat to allow cars to cross from the non-moving left lane to the right which was at least slowly moving.  We had gone 20 metres in 45 minutes. Well, they recaptured what it was like to be in Tokyo Disneyland in the carpark.
At lest they could have had a man directing traffic. The I had a three hour drive to Utsunomiya  Once we were clear of heavy traffic it was actually good going, and we were glad to be able to rest for the night....
Splash Mountain

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