Traffic, Toilets, and all things Tokyo!
Tokyo is such a bustling, fascinating city, I honestly don’t even know where to begin!! We arrived in Tokyo in the afternoon on Wednesday, and were ready to immerse ourselves in the city! In Tokyo there are several different districts, and it felt like we were in all of them! We stayed in a chain hotel called the “Prince Hotel” in Ikebukuro, which is in north east Tokyo. Ikebukuro is a shopping and business area, there isn’t a lot of tourist sites to see, but it was a great location as a home base. Ikebukuro station is a giant subway station that is home to many of the major subway stations, which is highly important once you understand the layout of the subway. Our hotel was also attached to a giant shopping mall, Sunshine City, that also housed an aquarium and arcade!
The subway system in Tokyo is very complicated and highly efficient at the same time. There are millions of citizens crammed into Tokyo, making mass transit a must for most people. I can’t even begin to describe how complicated it is. What makes it different from New York is that different lines are owned by different companies, so you need a different ticket for different lines. For example, there is a JR line that runs in a circle all around the city. It stops at many major subway lines, but it is owned by a specific company, so if you want to transfer to a different line at any of these stations, you need to buy a separate ticket. Once you get the hang of the maps, it’s very efficient to use the subway, and you can get pretty much anywhere in all of Tokyo using subways. We only took a cab once or twice, and we went EVERYWHERE!
Traffic in Tokyo is madness, but also highly efficient. While major cities all resemble New York in many ways, another major difference is that nobody jay-walks in Tokyo. No one! It’s extremely frowned upon! Every single person waits for that cross walk signal, and there are HUNDREDS of people. They seem to accumulate out of nowhere, suddenly you are at a cross walk of what seems like thousands, but once that signal is gone, they all disappear! Seriously, just crossing the street in Japan is a sight to see!
Speaking of traffic and everything related, most everyone that I encountered in Japan was absolutely delightful! On our first two days everyone we asked for directions, whether they knew where we were going or not, would take it upon themselves to find our destination and WALK US THERE! I am talking blocks and blocks away from where we asked them. One man we asked for directions spoke very little English, and didn’t know where we were going. He still insisted on looking it up on his phone, asking two other people for directions for us, and walked us across the city to get there! If someone in New York offered to walk us to our destination when we asked for directions, I would be pretty convinced they were leading us to a back alley to murder us. In Japan, though, most everyone was SO nice!! What a lovely culture.
Lastly, Japanese toilets are insane. This is kind of random, but it needs to be added somewhere, so I will insert it into my odds and ends posts. Toilets in Asia, specifically in Japan, are insane. They are very fancy, high tech, and are pretty much everywhere. While most people are aware that the Japanese toilets have several bidet options, they have other high tech options, as well!
Most toilets feature a heated seat, where you can adjust the temperature, you can adjust the power of the bidet stream, and there is an odor deodorizer. There is also a flushing sound which you can adjust the volume of. Some of them even have the seat attached to a sensor, which will allow the seat to automatically come down when you walk in the bathroom. Crazy!