05 May 2012

Tokyo Trippin'

At Cork airport at 5 o clock in the morning is where my adventure began. My mother kindly dropped me off and I boarded a plane to Heathrow for the first part of my journey. A fairly uneventful first part. I arrived at Heathrow and began wandering the lounge looking for a place to spend the next 5 hours and keeping my eyes peeled for someone I knew when lo and behold there was Eimear Murphy, a girl who I went to primary school with. It is a truth universally acknowledged that no matter what corner of the globe you gallivant to you will probably run into someone from Dingle there.
After she had departed and I sat down to read my book I looked down on my knee to see I had somehow come into possession of a tiny caterpillar.

Here's him hanging out on my bookmark
I have no idea where he came from but after walking around like a deranged individual with my bookmark held carefully in front of me (and at one point scooping him up off the floor) I asked a stewardess how to get out to free him. She replied, with a bemused expression, that it would take an hour to get out and that all the plants were plastic. I eventually found a plant that wasn't plastic. She lied.
After 5 wonderfully boring hours in Heathrow I then boarded the plane where time stood still. It felt like I was stuck in a time loop consisting of irregular meal times and poor films. Glenn Close deserved that Oscar nomination for Albert Nobbs, it was slow though. As for Keira Knightly in A Dangerous Method: decent Russian accent, still wanted to slap her in the face. The highlight was the lovely steward who made me a cranberry and orange juice down the back of the plane when they had run out on the cart. What a nice man.
Upon landing 12 hours later I realised that I would have to wait over 4 hours for the bus that would arrive near the hotel. No dice. I got the next bus into town (the big shmoke), all the while feeling sorry for the woman who had to sit beside me as I can only describe the smell coming off me as sour. I didn't even want to sit near me, and I like me. I got off in Tokyo Station and hopped into a taxi with white doiley-like covers on the seats and a driver in a full suit, hat and white gloves to match the seat covers. He even opened the door for me, what a gent! (Irish taxi drivers take note.) 10 minutes and €17(!) later I reached my destination (maybe Irish taxi drivers aren't soooo bad...) only to find I couldn't check in for another 2 hours. I dropped my luggage and retreated to the bathroom to sit for a while and feel sorry for myself in private and that is where I had my first run in with a magic toilet!

You can see the buttons on the left hand side

I pressed the buttons. I heard water trickle down the back of the toilet and... nothing happened. (I had more luck with the one in my room later although the first time I tried it the water hit my lower back so hard it bounced off and soaked the wall behind me. These things take practice it seems.)
Wandering aimlessly up the street I set out to kill two hours before I could check in, spoting the most adorable stone ever set into a foot path, 

Look how cute he is!!

and came across the beautiful Koishikawa Korakuen Gardens which were letting people in free for Greenery Day. It was all coming up Millhouse Ciara!
Here is where I had my second caterpillar experience of the day. Hanging from branches about 15ft above in the trees were many caterpillars, dangling at about waist and head height. Across a small bridge I spotted five in a row hanging out. After laughing, blowing, and poking at them I did my good tourist-ly duty and photographed them. Here's a video of one that danced.

Heading on my way I turned for one last look to see two ninja pigeons swoop down and grab two while a third was being rescued and placed on the ground by someone who couldn't stand to see them become pigeon food. Stupid caterpillars.
The gardens were like a tranquil oasis in an otherwise bustling city. There were koi in the ponds, turtles swimming and lounging on the grass, beautiful flowers and colourful, dancing butterflies. There were also some birds that sounded like car alarms.

These are some other images I snapped in the gardens

Finally after two hours had gone by I was able to check into my room and fell asleep at 10 o clock Japanese time and got out of bed the next day at 3 o clock.
This is an exceptionally long post and for that I apologise. There's not much else to do in my hotel room seeing as all the channels are in Japanese, although I did find a kids show about octopuses (octopi?) that I really enjoyed.

Peace out yo

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Maira Gall