Pilgrim’s progress

I’ve just spent the most magical, unforgettable evening at the New York bar on the 52nd floor of the Park Hyatt Tokyo (that’s the hotel where they filmed Lost in Translation, fact fans). The dim lighting, live band and superb cocktails contributed to an extraordinary atmosphere, and all the while the blinking red lights of the Nishi-Shinjuku skyscrapers were just about visible through the frosted windows. However, as with every dream, the time comes to wake up; as the band made its way from the stage, I made my way back down to earth and returned to the more modest surroundings of Shiba Park. I suppose the visit to that bar was something of a pilgrimage for me; I only hope that it’s not going to be the only time I set foot in it.

To rewind slightly – the day started with a tour of Tokyo, although it was really more of a flying visit to a few places of interest. This would have been fine, except we had the catastrophic misfortune to be accompanied by a tour guide who was repetitive to the point of excruciating aural distress. The good news was that the tour finished at 1, so I never reached the stage of clawing at the coach windows in order to be set free.

We were dropped off in Ginza, the main shopping district of Tokyo. It’s an interesting place, but doesn’t really house anything exclusive to Japan, so after a stroll up the main street I hopped on the subway and got off at Shibuya. All of a sudden, the Tokyo from my wildest dreams sprang into life. There are no words to do the place justice – the sights, the people, the clothes; imagine what Camden was like before it became a chav-infested flea pit, clean it up, improve the music and merchandise tenfold, and turn the insanity up to 11. Got all that? Ladies and gentleman, you are halfway towards picturing Shibuya. I managed to curtail most of my spending urges, as I have yet to visit Harajuku.

Tomorrow, Nikko – a small town about an hour from Tokyo, and the site of the original ‘Hear no evil, See no evil, Speak no evil’ monkeys.

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