Tokyo May 2016 Day 2: avoiding jet lag, The Yamathon, Shinjuku, Izakayas and a yard of beer!

The departure and arrival time is now our number one deciding factor when booking flights. For two reasons, one to maximize our time off of work and two to avoid the dreaded jet lag. I don’t want to brag too much but we have the latter pretty much down to a tee, well, when we fly to Asia anyway!

This trip was no different and we opted for a flight leaving the UK at 19:15 meaning we could work for most of that day, and arrive in Japan at around 15:00 the following day. In terms of avoiding jet lag this involves sleeping as much as possible on the flight, nailing an energy drink or 2 on arrival, quickly unpacking and showering, avoiding napping at all costs and then heading straight out and keeping busy until at least 10pm! To read about how we kept busy on our first evening see Day 1.

Therefore, despite waking up briefly at around 4:00 we managed to sleep in until 8:00, which was perfect, and we got up feeling rested and fairly well adjusted to the time difference. We had some nibbles for breakfast at the apartment that we'd bought the night before from a konbini (convenience store) and then headed straight out to finally finish the Yamathon. This is a walking/running route that visits every station on the JR Yamanote line, the challenge being to get a photo at each one. The idea is to do this all in one day but we’d been taking our time and in 2015 we had left this at Shinagawa which was therefore the days starting point.

We left early in the morning and walked to Shinjuku Station where we discovered a platform full of people. Rush hour in Tokyo is busy, but not this busy. We had to wait for several trains to arrive and depart before being crammed onto one. When we arrived in Shinagawa the crowding was far worse, we later discovered that this was because the trains had stopped due to a fire at a power converter station near Kawasaki Station at around 8 a.m. The knock on effect of this was that some lines were shut down and these included connections at Shinagawa Station meaning that many people had no trains to transfer and had to seek alternative routes.

Once we got outside of the station things were much calmer, it was an absolutely beautiful day and we made very good progress walking the remaining section of the Yamathon through Tamachi.

Shinagawa Station:

View en route:

A shopping street at Tamachi:

Tamachi Station:

A river between Tamachi and Hamamatsucho:

Hamamatsucho Station:

From Hamamatsucho we walked through the Shiodome area of Tokyo to get to Shimbashi. Shiodome is one of our favourite areas of Tokyo and we stayed here on our first trip together.

Next we arrived at Shimbashi which was our final stop for this leg of the walk:

It was lunchtime and we chose to eat at a sushi restaurant, both of us opting for lunch time specials. I had a sushi set:

Tom had a sushi set with some tempura and udon noodles:

After lunch we wanted to go to a supermarket to pick up some supplies for the apartment. Our favourite branch of supermarkets is Mauretsu and there is a large branch close to the station at Tabata so we took a Yamanote train there. I love Japanese supermarkets, everything is always laid out in such a beautiful, orderly format. Even the fruit looks appetizing and I am really not big on fruit!

Shopping done, we made our way back to the apartment to drop off our groceries before wandering over to Tokyo Hands in Shinjuku for an hour or so. Tokyo Hands is a large department store and this particular branch has 7 floors so you can see how easy it is to spend a good hour browsing!

We sat on the roof for a little while watching the sunset before heading out for the evening.

Our evening began much like the previous one at the Rose and Crown but this time we chose a branch in Shinjuku. The staff spoke English to us each time which was very frustrating, it’s also very hard to formulate Japanese sentences to respond when someone is speaking your mother tongue so feeling a bit depleted we decided to go somewhere tourist free and utilise our language skills. Guide books, tv and the internet have always lead us to believe that Omoide Yokocho (Memory Lane also referred to as the delightful Piss Alley) is where the real Japanese Salary men go to eat and drink so we made our way there.

Whilst it is true that the Japanese do frequent these venues they were also full of tourists with guides looking for an "authentic" Japanese experience too, making it all the more unauthentic! We had a good look around before leaving the area and settling on a branch of Kin no Kura. This is a chain Izakaya offering a tablet ordering system. We had a fried platter, beef skewers, and a few other nibbles and Tom sampled many unusual drinks from the menu including Hoppy, which he really liked! This is a beer flavoured non-alcoholic drink and in this instance was used as a mixer with Shōchū (焼酎?)which is a Japanese distilled beverage and in our opinion similar to vodka in taste.
Hoppy and skewers with an egg yolk for dipping:

Deep fried platter, great value for money!

Next stop was Karaoke where we continued drinking and sang the night away!

Tom ordered a yard of green ale for some strange reason, it may account for the fact that our only other photo from the evening was this: