So I woke up to a shaking bed. I nudged Dave thinking he must be having a bad dream and shaking to find he was perfectly still. It was the bed moving. And the room was swaying back and forth. It took me a moment to realise, we must be in the middle of an Earthquake. I woke Dave, terrified, having never experienced anything like this. We left our room heading downstairs whilst the hotel was swaying back and forth, joined by a couple of equally terrified girls that we met in the hallway. The reception staff were cool as a cucumber when we eventually got downstairs, obviously used to this, since a staggering 1,500 earthquakes strike Japan every year. It stopped and we headed back to our room and got ready early for the day as I felt I wanted to be on solid ground!
We headed to Tsujki Fish Market which was already bustling and then onto the beautiful Hamarikyu Gardens. This was the perfect post-traumatic tranquil experience. There was a beautiful traditional tea house overlooking the water, and we had our first Japanese Tea ceremony. It was a gorgeous oasis in the busy city of Tokyo and we met another English couple who were camper-vanning around Japan, and in true English fashion talked about the earthquake and weather!
We passed the Imperial Palace though didn’t go inside, but the area was interesting to see – surrounded by a mix of nature and yellow trees, and skyscrapers.
We headed to Nezu next which is home to one of Japan’s oldest shrines, Nezu Shrine, set in lush greenery and tunnels of small shrine arches.
The next shrine we visited was Yasukuni Shrine which had an impressive gate that made us feel tiny!
Another for you Ghibli fans, is the Studio Ghibli clock in Shiodome. It is similar to the aesthetic of Howl’s Moving Castle and was designed by Hayao Miyazaki himself. It moves in a cuckoo clock type fashion and springs to life at different times throughout the day and was a treat to see (although we had to run to see it).
On our way back to the hotel we came across the Hanazono shrine in Shinjuku which was celebrating Tori Non Ichi which is celebrated in order to pray for wealth and good fortune for the year ahead. It is held every November on the days of the rooster. There were various groups and families having rituals which was a special thing to see, chanting and holding up lucky bamboo rakes. Some were huge and some small, we bought a small one and were shown how to hold it.
That night we had booked in at the famous Robot Restaurant and my goodness, I’m not quite sure how to describe the show! From robotic monsters, to dancers to lasers, this show had everything to throw at you and it was one of the most entertaining nights! We didn’t eat here as I had read the food wasn’t too great and pricey – but the actual show was brilliant and like stepping into an alternate reality.