3 July 2008
We purchased the Tokyo Morning tour from Sunrise Tours. After ten minutes walk from our Villa Fontaine Hotel we met the bus in Hamamatsucho bus terminal.
Our tour guide Mina-san (san is good for both, men and women) was very polite, she told us many interesting things about Japanese daily life. For example, in order to purchase a car you need to have a parking place rented or purchased before, otherwise car dealer is not allowed to sell. Or another fact – average commuting time for Japanese people from home to office is 70 minutes one way. Or another fact - the average life expectancy for women is 85 years and it is expected to rise up to 90 in 10 years. Her stories included many interesting and amazing facts of Japanese life.
First stop of our tour was at Tokyo Tower, the younger sister of Eiffel Tower in Paris. Tokyo Tower is built 70 years later and it is 10 meters higher than Eiffel. This tour took us to 150 meters high observatory. The tower also had a special observatory which was 60 meters higher but was not included in our tour. However, this was okay for us, as we have been already in two observatory towers.
Our next stop was near Imperial Palace Gardens. The main garden is closed for the general public - only east garden is opened. We had a chance to walk at the gates and our tour guide Mina told us about the role of emperor in Japan.
Our third stop was at Asakusa Senso-Ji temple. We were told about the rituals in the temple with water and smoke. Also the main religions were introduced. The main religion for Japanese people is Shintoism, second largest is Buddhism and third Christianity. Those religions are mixed, so it is very common that Shintoism is for happier occasions, Buddhism for sad and Christianity for one day in a year.
Senso-Ji temple is huge and famous for as Tokyo's oldest Buddhist Temple. The grounds of temple were very crowded with tourists. Here was also Nakamise-dori, the temple precinct’s shopping street. Only volunteers working for temple can only get the right to sell on main street.
Our bus tour took us through different part of Tokyo what we have already visited by ourselves. Now we heard some stories for background. The last stop of Tokyo morning tour was in Tasaki Pearl factory. This was bit a waste of time. The guide there explained the process of pearl cultivation and one participant was presented with a pearl. But still, it was kind of selling activity, as on the way out there was a opportunity to buy pearl items.
The tour finished at 1PM, so we had still plenty of time for Tokyo. First we went to Tourist Info to book the hotel in Kyoto were we had plan to go next. Tourist info was very helpful. They helped us to book a Japanese style room in Ryokan for two nights and western style room in hotel for three nights. We also asked for suggestion how to get most out of the afternoon of this day. After asking what we have seen so far, the lady suggested to go to Odaiba, the bay area. We took a monorail train called Yurikamome. This train had no driver, so when departing from Shimbashi station and being quick, you can sit at the driver’s seat and enjoy the best views. The train passes the Rainbow bridge.
In Odaiba there are many things to do and see. For example we went out at Daiba station (single fare from Shimbashi to Daiba 310 Yen) and first thing what we saw, was … Statue of Liberty. Exact copy (okay, it is smaller) of what stands in New York. The views to Tokyo city, to Rainbow bridge and Tokyo tower were great. And the views were even better at sunset.
Odaiba is also a “must” for car lovers. There is interesting Toyota showcase at Megaweb, you can see future models and try driving all current Toyota models, also driving the electric car. Unfortunately we did not have time for National Museum of emerging science and innovation, as it is open until 5pm.
Tokyo Morning tour and visit to Odaiba made a perfect day for us.