Dave and I had a 24 hour layover in Tokyo during our flight back from Thailand in July. I always love getting the extra bonus of a layover in another country and take the opportunity to extend the layover if I can! Unfortunately I came down with a terrible cold during our last few days in Bangkok and this flu hit its climax during our time in Tokyo. We were nervous going through customs because there were signs all over the place letting us know that we need to turn ourselves in to be quarantined if we had a fever (which I definitely did). I held back my coughs as I talked to the customs officers and smiled my best healthy-looking smile. This day also happened to be when I ran out of any type of cold medicine that I had packed. I tried to get some kind of medicine at a couple of pharmacies, but Japan did not seem to have the same cold medicines that we have in the States. I was given a packet of black powder and told to swallow it dry. I was desperate, so I did it. I am really not sure that it helped at all…I will never take Dayquil for granted again. It was in the high 90’s and incredibly humid and I had a fever and could not hear out of one ear…not a great start to the day.
We actually rented showers at the airport – which sounds sketchy but it was the.best.decision.ever. I felt a lot better after a shower and we locked our bags (and camera equipment!) in the train station storage unit. We used the train system to get around and our friend Andrew gave us great suggestions on where to go. We started at the Sensoji Temple where we saw hundreds of people praying and walking among the beautiful Japanese architecture.
There was a market adjacent to the temple that seemed pretty ‘touristy’ but we enjoyed walking through it. Thanks to the Treksplorer website we knew the best way to spend out time there.
Then we were back to the underground trains.
Next, we went to watch the Shibuya Scramble – which is one of the busiest pedestrian crossings in the world. It’s pretty incredible and puts any large Washington DC crosswalks to shame. I could try to describe how many people cross the street in mere seconds, but you might just want to watch this video instead. I spy Dave.
We then went on to the Meiji Shrine. It was a beautiful, peaceful place set back in a large park in the city. It almost reminded me of Central Park in NYC, but with more trees, less people, and a large shrine in the middle. We thought it was a nice break from the hustle and bustle of Tokyo and we took shelter from some light rain under the outer roof of the shrine. The rain was also a nice break from the heat. Several wedding parties came through to be blessed. Their wedding attire was stunning and we stopped to watch a few of the processions come through.
We spent a few more hours walking around Tokyo, but I will be honest – my memories of the latter part of the day are pretty fuzzy. (Maybe a side effect of no sleep the night before, walking around all day with a fever, or just the black powder I dry-swallowed earlier) We had dinner at the top floor of our hotel and I drank some wonderful tea and rested up for my 13 hour flight the next morning.
A couple of tourist photos to end the post. Even though I felt terrible all day, I enjoyed our day in Tokyo. I would love to go back to Japan and spend more time there someday. I would particularly love to see the cherry blossoms. Someday!