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Landing in the Rising Sun

After changing planes in Munich's slick airport, I settled into the long flight ahead and tried to get some sleep. I'd just managed to get properly comatose when we touched down at a bright, sunny Narita airport. One of the first things that caught my eye was a girl driving a forklift truck as we headed to customs.

I had been expecting to be dropped into a hysterical mass of noise and people, but instead Narita was calm and peaceful. I bought a train ticket to Tokyo and headed to the big city, which is 60km away but costs less than getting into London from any of it's airports.

For once I'd prepared well and the task of finding my way through Tokyo to my hotel was no problem, with a subway guide & all the maps on my phone and Palm. The trains, naturally, were very modern, with screens showing adverts, plans, and information about the upcoming station.

Soon I was in Asakusa district, where the first cherry blossom of the year had just appeared - something of a Japanese obsession as it symbolises the approach of summer, and people were picknicking and photographing each other under it. I dropped my bag off at the hotel and decided to rejoice in my multi-culturalism by joining them. I bought some lovely looking meatballs from a food stand and sat down to feast on them. As I bit into the first one, however, I almost threw up. They were not meatballs but raw octopus balls. As I tried to hide my desire to puke from the Japanese families tucking into them around me, I looked up to see a smiling picture of an octopus laughing down at me from the side of the stall.

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