I woke up absolutely exhausted for my first day in Tokyo, which was really annoying. I think it may have had something to do with the wine I’d had in the hotel bar the night before.
I didn’t really have a plan for the next couple of days in Tokyo, so headed to Starbucks for a spot of breakfast to make one. One area I’d heard loads about but which had never visited was Roppongi Hills – it’s an enormous shopping centre / development of buildings, so that was where I started my day off.
It’s quite an amazing place architecturally – though for me, there weren’t any shops that grabbed my interest. I wandered around for a while before heading to Tsutaya, a Japanese book shop chain. The one at Roppongi was really cool.
I found a brilliant Japanese cookbook, which was also in English, so picked that up. It has all the basic Japanese foods such as hotpots, sushi, tonkatsu (breaded pork), and a good guide to Japanese cuisine in general, including knife techniques and tableware. So I can recreate some Japanese foods properly when I get home. I also bought yet another Japanese textbook – I’m determined this time when I get home to properly brush up on my Japanese.
After Tsutaya, I bought a combined ticket for Roppongi Hill’s main attractions – Tokyo City View and the Mori Art Museum.
I felt I needed to do something cultural rather than just wander round the shops. The City View was OK really – I’d done the Tokyo Sky Tree last year, but it was still pretty cool to get a bird’s eye view of just how massive Tokyo is.
Weirdly, (as is often the case in Japan) they had some kind of doll exhibition going on at the City View – which people seemed to be going a bit mad for. I didn’t really get what it was all about (apart from dolls). I didn’t really bother with it either, but my favourites were these hippy dolls.
I decided to grab some lunch while I was up on the 38th (I think) floor. And got a “popover” from a cafe. It tasted like a Yorkshire Pudding. I’ve never heard of a popover before – maybe it’s some English thing or something?
After lunch I headed to the Mori Art Museum – which was one floor down from City View and hosts changing exhibitions. The one showing the day I went was by Lee Mingwei. It basically included some of his work, and some by people who shared his kind of viewpoint on the world.
Basically (I think), his art is all about moving art from outside the actual work. I’m going to stop there in case I start sounding pretentious. But as an example, you could enter a lottery type thing to have him a cook a meal for you and dine with you in the gallery.
So I wandered around, taking it all in, and some of it was pretty cool, although some of it seemed really random. Then I came across this:
The idea was that you could take a flower from the display, as long as you promised to give it to someone you didn’t know, and take a different exit from Roppongi Hills than you’d used to come in. Then you were spreading the art beyond the museum. So I picked a flower up.
After leaving the museum, I wandered around a bit more and then decided I needed to get rid of the flower before I left Roppongi. I think it was quite a cool idea really, and gave mine to a random (yet good looking obviously) Japanese girl, whose reaction was one of confusion. If my Japanese had been better I could have explained the whole idea behind it, but I wasn’t able to, so I guess I looked like a random guy giving her a flower. It felt quite good though anyway.
By now, for some reason, I was really exhausted, so decided to head back to the hotel. I stopped off at The National Art Centre (below) to visit their shop, but although it has brilliant souvenirs, everything was a bit pricy.
By this point, I was really knackered, so went to bed for a good hour and a half snooze. I woke up with the sun beginning to set – and a great view from my bedroom window.
It was about 7.30, but I decided I didn’t want to waste any time just lying in my room, so went to visit Akihabara – the electronics district of Tokyo. It’s full of gadget shops, and manga type stuff, but because I got there a bit late, a lot of the shops were closed. As soon as I got there, I was just knackered, so quickly wandered around a big store and picked up a graphics tablet I’d had my eye on (and it was £30 cheaper than at home).
I also saw a man (kind of) dressed as a pint of beer.
I picked up a bento box from a convenience store, headed back to the hotel, and exhausted was in bed for about 10pm.