Blitzed the airport, the Narita Express and the Metro to arrive comfortably just outside of 8.00pm to a warm summer’s eve of 33°. Three double beds for mama, papa and baby bear – and some serious apartment space by Tokyo standards (I booked ‘large’ anticipating Sheryn’s luggage, but was staggered to see only one bag thrown into the boot when we picked her up from home).
Desperate for a beer, we went to grab some from the vending machines that we knew and loved from the last trip – only to find that with the impending 2020 Olympics the Japanese government are cleaning up Tokyo…the bras, knickers, toys, food, booze and the thousands of other crazy items you could previously vend, have all gone! Only green tea, water and soft drinks remain. Our local Lawsons, Family Mart and 7 Eleven have a large amount of our yen instead.
So Tokyo is being cleaned and renovated. This already immaculate city is getting an extreme makeover: train stations are being renovated; sculptures and fountains, scrubbed and cleaned; temples and tori gates wrapped in plastic and scaffolding; copper roofs are being polished. The only unkempt thing in the city is the inside of Sheryn’s suitcase.
So after lots of laughs, a few fails, much scaffolding, much plastic, many trains, a boat trip, surviving the metro at peak hour with luggage and many hours of dehydrating with cold beers watching people – we are now sitting on the bullet train heading south to Kyoto.