It's Sunday evening here now, almost a whole week since I arrived. Since my last post I've mostly been working. Days here are long and it doesn't leave much time for anything else, but we've been eating well! Food and drink is possibly more expensive here than anywhere else. It doesn't help that we get back from work too late to eat in most of the restaurants, so we have to resort to the bar at the top of the hotel (where a couple of beers and some fried chicken each is 60 quid - urgh).
Anyway, on Saturday we had a chance to see some sights. We went to the temple at Senso-Ji as we'd heard it was one of the best, and indeed it was. There are many tourist-tat shops that line the street (Nakamise-dori) between Asakusa Metro station and the temple compound and are interesting to poke about in. The temple itself is interesting but we were unlucky that when we visited there was some restoration going on, but there was still plenty to see.
After the temple we decided to take the Sumida-Gawa river cruise to see the city from a different aspect. Unfortunately the boat was completely enclosed with no deck to walk about on, so it was hard to see much! What we did see was mostly bridges and skyscrapers, so it was a lot less interesting than something like a cruise on the Thames. I wouldn't recommend it unless you manage to get an open boat anyway.
The boat took us to a commercial district near the Tokyo Tower. Everything was closed and nobody was around - it was a bit bizarre really. There was a McDonalds in the bottom of one of the office buildings where we reluctantly bought lunch before heading into whatever bit of Tokyo we were in, in an attempt to find a Metro station to get home. We walked under a monorail, which is an excitingly futuristic thing to have, and we saw a bullet train too. Very Japanese! Eventually we randomly found Mita station and got the metro back to the hotel.
On Sunday we had to move hotels. We're now in the Crowne Plaza Metropolitan, and I have another decent view from my room. The hotel is in a much busier area than the Akasaka Prince, so it looks like there will be more to do. We're right by Ikebukuro station which, like many Japanese stations, is absolutely massive. Still, it's a bit closer to the office so we'll shave half an hour off each leg of the commute from tomorrow.
In the afternoon we went to the Meiji-Jingu shrine. To get there you have to walk through an interesting bit of Japanese culture - Cos-play-zoku, or the 'costume play gang'. These are teenagers who dress up in goth and punk dress and then hang around every weekend, while tourists come and pose with them for photos. It's very bizarre. We had to walk though them to get to the shrine so it was an interesting diversion, although I didn't take any photos as it felt a bit 'wrong' to take photos of scantily-clad 14 year olds. Anyway, the shrine itself is in a massive (by Tokyo standards) site full of trees and 'countryside', which is very pleasant. I think I saw more tourists there than anywhere else in Tokyo. Most days you don't see any Westerners, but the shrine was crawling with them. It was an impressive site, and we saw a couple of traditional Japanese weddings taking place. It must have been a bit weird for the people getting married as they had loads of tourists taking photos, but I suppose they wouldn't have done it there if they had minded. Odd though.
After the shrine we went back to the area of the hotel and poked around BIC Camera, which is a bit like Richer Sounds. I don't think things are really that much cheaper in Japan though so I haven't succumbed to any impulse purchases yet. From BIC it was a short stroll back to the hotel where we had a rather nice meal. Hurrah! Bizarrely, an English sixth form college and a ballet company are staying at the hotel at the moment, so there's an interesting mix of people. It's a lively hotel so I'm happier about staying two weeks here than I would have been in the Akasaka Prince...