After that interesting experiment we decided to walk the neighbourhood and check out Golden Gai, a small area of Shinjuku that is packed with tiny bars, each of which can only just fit about 5 people at a time. After wandering around the tight alleyways for a while, we stopped in at a little bar (with shag carpet covering the walls) for a quick drink before calling it a night.
Filled with some new knowledge of the place, we set off back into Ueno Park to look for some food (settling on delicious Yakitori - fried meat on a stick) and hitting up the boat pond for a sick ride in a Swan shaped pedal boat. Fun times.
From Asakusa, we headed on to check out Akihabara. Originally famous for its discount electrical gear, Akihabara has become the geek (or Otaku) centre of Tokyo, and features alleyways full of multistory stores devoted to selling video games, collectible cards, Anime, Manga, robot models and character figurines. There were also lots of young Japanese women out on the street advertising cosplay restaurants, where the wait staff dress up as characters from popular Manga and Anime and treat patrons as their masters or mistresses - definitely something unique to Japan that we didn’t dare to experience first hand. Instead we headed to Sushi-go-round, to have sushi delivered to us on a conveyor belt.
Having seen the park from up high, we decided we could make our way towards it on foot. It wasn’t quite as straightforward as expected as we entered a warren of narrow, maze like streets along the way. Luckily, we had rented a pocket wifi router at the airport that gave us invaluable access to Google Maps. Once we reached the park we found a nice open field and sat down to enjoy a picnic comprising 7-Eleven’s finest Japanese cuisine (cold noodle salad and Tonkatsu sandwiches).
On our way back to our hotel we passed through the Harajuku neighbourhood to check out the “Harajuku Style”. It’s a difficult thing to explain, but seems to basically be a local fashion movement centred on being as unique as possible. The area was body on body with tourists and shoppers alike, all checking out the wildly varied apparel on offer. It was quite a relief to get out of there and head back to the hotel for a break, after another quick stop at Tokyu Hands department store.
We also stopped off at the Samurai Museum in Shibuya, which, while small, turned out to be totally worthwhile. As we arrived we were lucky enough to catch a Samurai demonstration, which involved a martial arts demonstration by a Samurai actor. Being so close to a quickly moving sword was a little unnerving. After the demo, we were treated to a guided tour of the museum which taught us a lot about the history of Japan, as well as the Samurai warrior elite that played such an important role throughout the years. Oh, and we also got to dress up.
The Joypolis itself was a lot of fun. Among the rides were some crazy arcade games which had us strapped into capsules that would rotate 360 degrees on every axis, and full size cars that moved around as Luke drove us around a virtual course. We particularly enjoyed a set of rides that simulated jeep and airplane rides through mysterious ruins and South American jungles, though we did have to take a break afterwards to let our stomachs settle a bit. It’s kind of hard to describe everything that was going on inside the Joypolis, but needless to say it was very entertaining, especially for Luke the gamer.
To end our final day, we decided to get some fresh air and natural sunlight and made our way down to the beach on Odaiba. The place was bustling with the aftermath of some Dragon Boat racing, and people out enjoying the weather. We took a seat and watched the sunset behind the Tokyo skyline.