We arrived in the most popular metropolis on earth, Tokyo. About thirty six million people are living and working here. Just to get a feeling for the dimensions, imagine more than half of the British population living in a city that is 4,5 times larger than London.
Although we were able to get iglidur® through customs easily, obtaining the driving permission proved to be more complex.
The anticipated start date for the tour was set to the 28th. However, before we were allowed to travel through the land of the rising sun, it was required for us to obtain countless numbers of documents. For instance, we needed a “parking certificate” for Tokyo (everyone who wants to register a car must bring prove of an existing parking space. This is one measure of Tokyo´s government to reduce traffic in this mega city). Not only dozens of documents are required but also a modification process of the car (For example, the headlight must be changed to left side driving). Another essential element was to pass the inspection and exhaust gas test. After this we were then able to receive driving permission. In the time between modification and inspection, the car featured as part of our booth in an automotive exhibition.
Thus, the fist thing I had seen of Tokyo, were well organized state offices, including the German embassy whom had to verify my identity for the Japanese driving license.
Tokyo gave off the first impression of being a very clean and organised city, with a dirt free pristine clean city centre. In the metro stations, that to add are also extremely clean, each train stops perfectly on time at the same place (you wait at the point saying door 5 and you can be absolutely sure of door 5 opening at exactly the point you are standing). The extreme organisation is most likely due to the complexity and volume of people in the city, it is essential that areas such as transport run smoothly. A famous example that highlights the extreme population of Tokyo is the street in front of Shibuya station. Thousands of people cross the main road and streets on a daily basis.
Tokyo could be said to be quite diverse: on the one hand Tokyo is very modern, yet on the other hand it has a very old and traditional sight too. An example for the modern site is Akihabara district, the “electronic city” of Tokyo. Here you find dozens of anime and electronic shops.
Only a few districts further, is the old and traditional part of Tokyo where the streets are very narrow and full of traditional houses.
The core of this district features a big temple.
Here you can experience the two sights of Tokyo, as in the background of the old temple you can see modern houses and the futuristic Skytree.
With a height of 634 meters, the Skytree overlooks everything, which comes with the territory of being the tallest tower in the world following Shanghai tower as the second largest building worldwide.
A colleague invited me to participate in the annual Sanja Matsuri, a traditional religious festival (Buddhism).
The Sanja Matsuri features about one hundred mikoshi (portable shrines) in which gods are symbolically placed into and paraded about the streets to bring good fortune to the local businesses and residents.
I had the honour to carry one of these shrines, although they were incredibly heavy.
As the day went on, I started to understand that the ceremony I was participating in was an extremely important ritual for the locals. A Japanese visitor told me that it is a great honour for every Japanese to participate in this event and that he unfortunately has never had the chance.
I will keep you up to date,