Chatteris' Akbar Khan tells all about his whirlwind weekend in Tokyo
It was barely a weekend, as I landed Saturday morning and left Sunday evening- so just two days and one night in this incredibly clean and polite city. Following a four-hour flight from Hong Kong with a time difference of one hour, I did what I could with the little time I had.
After meeting my good friend upon landing, I was quickly dragged in the direction of a local 7-a-side football tournament. However, not having had any dinner the night before, or even a quick breakfast that morning, we stopped at a 7/11 on the way and I munched on my favourite Japanese snacks. The chicken was decent with almost no fat and loads of white meat, just like home. I indulged in plenty of fried chicken (chicken katsu) and some yaki tori (chicken skewers drenched in teriyaki sauce), and if it weren’t for my mate giving me the “this is why you’re fat” look, I would have doubled up on the dosage.
However, I was undeterred- some scrumptious burgers were on the lunchtime menu, which were delicious but a little too small for my appetite. After (almost) eating our fill we made our way to a terrace where we could enjoy a smoke and a coffee (in Japan you can only smoke in specific areas). As I ordered my iced caramel machiatto, I couldn’t help but notice how ridiculously overpriced everything was in this city. Having got off a plane from Hong Kong, it was quite a shock as to how expensive everything was, especially the cabs.
Slowly but surely a group of us made our way to my mate’s place to start prepping for that Saturday night, as it was his friend’s birthday and everyone was planning for a big night.
Above: Shibuya Crossing in Tokyo
After getting dressed I finished an amazing Bordeaux with my mate’s older brother and we all left for Shibuya. Before doing any more drinking the crew stopped at a 7/11 to stock up on ‘ukon’, a magical remedy that protects your liver from a heavy night. From there we made our way to an ‘Izakaya’ which is an informal Japanese gastropub where you eat and drink for ‘cheap’ before hitting the club. Once entering this narrow building made of wood, we had to climb five flights of stairs to make it to our table, conveniently (for me) located in the smoking area. Once seated it was, simply put, order after order of fried food, sushi, kimchi and drinks. Being in Japan I had made the executive decision to go with Sake as my poison. Once my mini bottle of Sake arrived, accompanied with a rather large shot glass, I was stopped by about 3 friends when attempting to pour my own drink. They explained that whenever someone orders Sake it falls on whoever surrounds you to make sure that your glass is never empty. It’s apparently bad luck to pour your own Sake and your friends’ responsibility to pour it for you ensuring that you will earn a lot in your career. So there I was, totally unaware of how much Sake was being supplied to me. Entering the small hours of Sunday morning, we left the Izakaya and made our way to Roppongi (nightlife central in Tokyo). I spent the cab ride with my head spinning furiously and, once we arrived, I found myself a comfy corner to pass out in for the next 4-5 hours.
Above: Sake- the chosen poison of Chatteris' own Akbar Khan
Slightly hungover the next afternoon, I manage to make it out of bed at around 1pm and toured the area with a group of friends. We treated ourselves to another burger-shack for lunch, from which we then made our way to the Tokyo Dome (an attraction and tourist hot-spot) to shop for some souvenirs. We all rushed back to my mate’s place so I could get my stuff and catch a train to the airport. I made my flight by the skin of my teeth, and went straight to bed after landing back in Hong Kong.
Above: The Tokyo Dome, a tourist hot spot
All in all, I would definitely recommend Tokyo as a trip but not for just two days. Sure I had bought the tickets a lot earlier and didn’t want them to go to waste, but a good week in Tokyo is definitely still on my to-do list while I’m this side of the world. The airline I flew with was really nice and cheap too (a Japanese company called Vanilla Air).
Just remember- if you’re planning a night out in a Japanese city, ask around for an Izakaya as the atmosphere, menu and prices are exactly what you need when warming up for a good night out!