Tuesday 13 June – Adventures on the Tokyo Metro

We woke this morning to light rain so decided against our plan to go exploring on the Hop On and Off Bus and instead opted to go adventuring on the Tokyo Metro. Eek!
Armed with our Metro Map, rain jackets and umbrellas, we head off down to the Nagatacho Station, which was across the road and a different line from the one we returned on yesterday afternoon. We found the Purple Z line, bought our tickets from the ticket machine, found the right platform, got on our train, got off at the Oshiage Station, walked through the huge Skytree Town Shopping Centre (which takes up two blocks) and found the entrance to the Skytree Tower. Big tick for us.
The Tokyo Skytree is a broadcasting tower and is 634 metres high, the tallest tower in the world and the second tallest free-standing structure in the world. We bought our tickets and headed to the elevator, which took us at a speed of 600 metres per minute up to the Tembo Deck on Level 350. It was quite misty with rain but we did get some photos. We then headed further up to the next Observation deck area, the Tembo Galleria on Floor 445 and walked up the spiral walkway to Sorakara Point on Floor 450 at a height of 451.2 metres. We took some photos there before heading down to Level 340, which had a section of glass floor. After more photos we headed back down to the ground floor and walked along the street so that we could get a photo of the Skytree Tower from the outside. The misty rain certainly restricted what would have been spectacular views, but the views we did get were much better than the mist that almost totally obscured our view from the Pearl Tower in Shanghai last year.
We found our way back to the Oshiage Metro Station to the A Rose (pink) line, bought out tickets, found the platform, got on the train which was waiting, then we waited in the station for 30 minutes, with the occasional message being relayed in Japanese but as none of the other passengers seemed concerned, we sat there before finally deciding to get off the train and speak to the Metro attendant we saw on the platform. He told us “train stop – accident” and pointed to our Metro Map to show that we needed to get two different trains to get to where we wanted to go.
So, we headed back to the entry gate and got a refund for our tickets, purchased new ones for the first section of our journey on the Z Purple line for 5 stations to Mitsukoshimae, where we changed trains to the G Orange line, which involved buying more tickets from the ticket machine. We found our way to the platform but needed to ask someone using the” pointing to the map” system and them nodding to say that we were on the right platform and were about to get on the correct train. The reason that we were not sure, was because the trains are operated by different companies and are identified by a stripe along the whole train, of the colour corresponding to the line eg the Z Purple line has a purple stipe. However, the train that we were about to get onto did not have an orange stripe, but the whole train was orange!
We then got off the G Orange train at the station we had intended to get off when we originally set out at the Skytree Tower. By now it was raining and the A4 map that we were given by the hotel concierge proved to be useless as it only had two street names on it, neither of which corresponded to the streets that we came out of the station onto. Just to add to the confusion, none of the other streets in the area had names. So, we headed off in the direction it looked like we should go, and eventually stopped at a café and went in to ask if anyone spoke English and asked them what street we were on and how should we get to the shop we were looking for. We were surprised to discover that the three staff members who looked at our map could not work out where they were on the map so that we could get our bearings. At this point we decided to turn on the data on Sandy’s phone and use google maps and headed off, following the instructions, but after walking about a kilometre, and it giving us instructions to make another turn and walk for a further 930 metres, we looked ahead and it was going to be a further 1.5 kilometres to get to the shop. At this point it was raining fairly heavily and we decided to head back to the station and forget about the shop – 0 out of 10 for us! Although we didn’t find our shop that we were looking for in the famous Ginza Shopping area that we were in, we did come across a McDonalds, so on the way back to the station we called in there and had some French fries for a late 2.30pm lunch.
We went back to the station, Shimbashi, found the G Orange line, bought tickets, found the platform, got on the train and travelled for 3 stations and we were back at our Akasaka-mitsuke station and in 5 minutes we were back at the Hotel, pleased with ourselves that we had managed to find our way around the Metro.
When we arrived back into our room, we discovered that Richard did not have his hat with him and remembered putting it on the tiny seat in the corner of a small upstairs dining area at McDonalds and thought it must have fallen on the floor. So, we decided to go back and get it as it is his favourite hat and we would not be able to replace it, so back to the station, tickets, platform, train for 3 stops in the start of the peak hour crush, walked to McDonalds and lo and behold! there was his hat, which had obviously been picked up and put neatly back on the seat he was sitting on. Big smiles! Back to the station, tickets, platform, train for 3 stops in the squeezy peak hour crush, walked back to the hotel and arrived in our room at 4.10pm after some wins and some losses using the Tokyo Metro!!!
We didn’t get very wet and hadn’t needed to use our rain jackets, as our umbrellas were quite sufficient.
We started our packing and then, because it was still raining and we didn’t feel like walking down to Chiyoda in the rain, we went down to the Garden lounge for a lovely last dinner overlooking the hotel’s Japanese Gardens.
We have enjoyed our visit to Tokyo and although it is said to be a frantic, high-tech 24-hour city, we found some tranquil backstreets and old temples to explore away from the crowds.
We enjoyed our three extra days sightseeing after our tour finished – thanks so much to Alison for her suggestions.

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