Thanks to Moko, my host, I had a chance to experience the national horse racing tournament held in Tokyo’s stadium. I was told the admission is free, so without hesitation I joined her and her friends. The location was quite far away from central Tokyo and took at least an hour by train to arrive at the destination.
If one day wasn’t enough. Today I have realised how many things I have to transport back to UK and I have become worried that my rucksack won’t be enough. I called up the airline and they said I am allowed to check-in a second piece of luggage, which basically was the turning point to do more shopping.
Where to shop in Tokyo if not in shinjuku & shibuya. Let me put it that way. If you haven’t found what you are looking for right there, it doesn’t exist. Simple as that. Since these are my last 2 weeks in Tokyo, I wanted to make sure to stuff my luggage with all souvenirs and gifts I could get my hands on.
My first and main stop was Loft, shop which can easily entertain you for a long few hours. It’s like Yodobashi but with rather non electronic products: stationery, furniture, clothing, eyewear, plants, home decor etc. I left with a bag full of awesomeness. Unfortunately I can’t go into specifics as those are gifts and some of you reading this are recipients, so….
Then a Disney Store which was adjacent to the Loft. Then Big Camera full of cameras and lenses on the opposite side of the road, next onto Harajuku to visit Nike Store, ABC Mart and some other local shops. You get the idea =)
At the end, I couldn’t feel me legs as I walked this whole time and manoeuvring in the crowd. Fun!
I have really missed this huge, always loud city after travelling across Japan. If you are following my adventure from the beginning you would know I lived in Tokyo for a month. It may sound weird but for some reason I used to it and I am glad to be back.
This time I am staying in the busiest district of Tokyo called Shibuya. I will have access to all main attractions, shopping malls and public transport right at my doorstep. I have already planned a lot for last 2 weeks of my trip in Japan, so stay tuned for surprises.
The very last day on Okinawa Islands and there was only one point of interest that I eagerly wanted to see, that is Ocean Expo Park. It’s known for Dolphin Theatre and Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium housing over 700 fish species in three sections: tropical, ocean, deep sea. There are also other adjacent attractions and beaches since it’s located right at the coast.
The place was recommended to me by our German friends, but their description just couldn’t match the actual size and beauty of the park. It’s so big that it’s been divided into northern and southern parts hitting total of 7 multi-storey car parks for the convenience. There is also a bus driving around the park. I believe the total distance from one side to the other is over 4 km!
I started with the aquarium. The main attractions are two unbelievably enormous water tanks full of sharks, whales, mantises and other bit smaller, but still of significant size, fish. To resist the water pressure they used 60 cm thick acrylic walls to build those tanks. Take a look at pictures and compare people standing and looking at them.
Before I realised I spent there at least 3 hours just admiring all exhibitions. They were fantastic. But I still had the Dolphin Theatre planned, so I rushed there to not miss the last show. This part didn’t disappoint as well. It’s incredible how clever, agile and well-trained dolphins can be. They swam across the pool standing with only their back fin dipped in the water, jumped at least 10 meters high, danced in the water following their instructors and finally slided on a narrow shelf facing audience and thanked everyone for watching! What?!
If I only knew this park delivers so much entertainment I would arrived earlier to make the most out of it. Unfortunately they were soon closing, so I had to leave without visiting other interesting section. I am still very happy that I experienced all of this. When you get a chance, definitely pencil a whole day for this park, a few hours aren’t enough.
A text has woken me up “Are you in Naha today by any chance? We have to kill time until our flight at 19:20” from my german friends. Hell yeah I am in Naha! I quickly prepped myself and left the flat to meet them. We didn’t really have time for a full day trip anywhere, so I decided to revisit the American Village again.
We parked next to the beach, but surprisingly the tide was so low you could walk 100 m into the water and still have just toes wet. We skipped the swimming idea for now and hoped for some higher tide to let us enjoy some water in this humidity.
What a group of 4 young people do when they can’t swim? They go to a shisha bar. That’s right, there was one, so we didn’t hesitate to pop-in. The service was quite terrible, but the hookah was excellent.
Then I walked them around the village to experience the american feeling as much as possible. Laugh all you want, but they also have been living in Japan for quite some time and have missed what we call “normal”. I was really glad I brought them there.
We finally ended up swimming in the illegal place as it was the only area that had a reasonable amount of water. We had lots of fun, though! But seriously, we only found out it was illegal after we left the spot. I promise.
Rather than travelling far north of the Island I explored other local attractions within Naha city. I planned Okinawa Prefecture Museum and the biggest shopping village for today.
Okinawa Prefecture Museum basically tells the story from back to back how this region has become what it is today. It wasn’t always part of Japan. A few hundreds years ago an independent Ryukyu Kingdom was created, which lived off trade between East China and Japanese main land. At the end of 19th century it has been transformed into a Japanese prefecture and named Okinawa. I really enjoyed reading about their lives, local culture, traditions and cuisine.
The shopping mall wasn’t as exciting as the museum, but it was a nice change from all the historical sites I was recently visiting. Here an idea of buying a rice cooker was born. Japanese rice is just perfect and since I eat a lot of it back at home it sounds like a great idea.
Of course an evening wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t have an excellent orange chicken hamburger with a pint of root beer in A&W.