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PLANETSKI HITS JAPAN: PART 1 - James Cove, Tokyo, Japan
Thursday September 19, 2019 - Email this article to a friend

The snow is yet to fall so we're seeing what there is to do off the slopes, looking at the winter ahead and, er, planning to see some rugby.

Japan has been top of my must-ski destinations for several years.

Awesome powder, extraordinary terrain and then there is the Japanese culture - a ski experience like no-where else on earth.

At least that's what many of my ski friends tell me.

For them it is one of the world's No 1 ski spots.

And these are friends that have skied exotic destinations across the world.

New Zealand/Australia and South America in the summer months, through to the steeps of USA and Canada in the winter months including Russia, Scandinavia, Iceland and beyond.

I am here before the snow arrives - researching a series of winter features for PlanetSKI on skiing in the Land of the Rising Sun, experiencing the Japanese culture and taking in the Rugby World Cup.

I'm going to be blogging across the next few weeks about anything that takes my fancy.

There is no fixed itinerary, in fact no itinerary at all.

Except England v Tonga on Sunday 22nd September in Sapporo and Wales v Australia on Sunday 29th September in Tokyo.

I have a 21-day rail card, some curiosity and my usual spirit of adventure and going with the flow.

What could possibly go wrong?


Now my friends may have told me that Japan is a ski experience like no-where else on earth.

What they didn't tell me was the Tokyo metro/rail system is also an experience like no-where else on earth.

This is what confronts you as you try to get from A to B.

Tokyo, JapanTokyo, Japan


And if that isn't confusing enough there are actually two systems intertwined - a tube system and a rail system.

Can you spot them?

I couldn't.

Tokyo, JapanTokyo, Japan

The privately owned Tokyo Metro runs nine lines, and the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, or Toei, runs four.

Most tickets on the lines are not interchangeable - which line is the metro and which is the rail is unclear.

Both go above the ground.

And below.

Tokyo, JapanTokyo, Japan


The only re-assuring factor was that I wasn't the only one utterly confused.

Tokyo, JapanTokyo, Japan

An attendent was on hand to advise.

Tokyo, JapanTokyo, Japan


Once you have worked out a route (or so you think), it is into a sub-terranean maze of passageways to try to reach a platform.

Hopefully the right one.

I was heading from the station of Shinjuki to Ueno and Kudansita to visit the Tokyo National Museum and the Imperial Palace

Then the plan was a tourist look around the Tsukiji fish market with a spot of sushi for lunch.

There are more than 10 million rides per day in Tokyo.

I made the first ride on the Fukutoshin line without incident.

But then got on to the wrong metro line.

A crowded one too.

Tokyo, JapanTokyo, Japan















I realised after a few stops I was heading in the wrong direction.

A friendly fellow tube rider advised me not to go back, but to change to the Yamonote line.

I followed his advice but it was on the Toei line and I only had a ticket for the metro.

Or was it the other way round?

Anyway my ticket was invalid and I couldn't get through a barrier.

I could go on, but you get my drift.

Suffice to say I emerged blinking into the daylight around an hour and a half after I had started my journey that I'd been told would take no more than 20 minutes.

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And even then it was more by luck than judgement that I arrived.

The Tokyo National Museum did not disappoint.

Tokyo National MuseumTokyo National Museum














Tokyo National MuseumTokyo National Museum















And this is what greeted me as I sought the Imperial Palace.

Tokyo, JapanTokyo, Japan

Tokyo, JapanTokyo, Japan

Tokyo, JapanTokyo, Japan

This is Tokyo, so old and new are side by side.

Tokyo, JapanTokyo, Japan

Most who come skiing in Japan take a few days to see the city and I could think of no better way to start a ski holiday.

I hope others have better luck underground than me.

Next on my tourist itinerary was the Tsukiji fish market.

Dare I venture underground again?

I decided to walk and sample Tokyo street life.

Tokyo, JapanTokyo, Japan















There was evidence of the upcoming Rugby World Cup with some locals showing interest.

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And this air conditioning outlet seemed to be getting into the spirit of things.

Tokyo, JapanTokyo, Japan


It took me over half an hour or so to walk from the Imperial Palace to the Tsukiji fish market.

Something told me another venture underground would have been longer.

And it was right to soak up Tokyo - it was all I had been led to believe.

And the rest.

Tokyo, JapanTokyo, Japan

And this was one of the first specimins that greeted me at the Tsukiji fish market.

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In the market there was haggling a plenty.

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With an extraordinary variety of seafood on offer.

Tokyo, JapanTokyo, Japan

Tokyo, JapanTokyo, Japan

Tokyo, JapanTokyo, Japan


My underground adventures had delayed lunch and it was after 3 o'clock.

No matter.

I found a local sushi bar in the centre of the market and tucked in.

Yours truly enjoys his SushiYours truly enjoys his Sushi














It was, quite simply, the most delicious sushi I have ever eaten.

Tokyo, JapanTokyo, Japan

Tokyo, JapanTokyo, Japan

And then it was a question of getting back to my hotel in the Shinjuko area.

The taxis looked more than inviting in their brightly coloured regalia.

Tokyo, JapanTokyo, Japan


They certainly looked the cleanest I had ever seen.

Tokyo, JapanTokyo, Japan

Tokyo, JapanTokyo, Japan

But the day had slipped by and the memories of my earlier underground experiences faded.

I have done many of the major city transport systems in Europe and North America.

Last year I succesfuly negotiated myself around Bangkok in Thialand, Ho Chi Min in Vietnam and Singapore without incident as I passed through on my journey skiing in Australia and New Zealand.

Surely I am a seasoned enough traveller not to be defeated by Tokyo.

The scoreline by the following day read Metro/Train 2 - Cove 0.

I will recount my further travelling the experiences in my next blog...

For the Spirit of the Mountains - PlanetSKI: Number One for ski news

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