Cheating A Traffic Death

Our exploratory bike ride started off really wonderful. We had scouted out our ride to the park the day before and knew the back roads were mellow and flat. It took a turn for the worst when we decided to keep going past Ueno Park to try and get to Chiyoda Park. We were using Google Maps, which usually has biking directions, but this time there weren’t (red flag?) so we were navigating with walking directions. I failed to remember that when you walk, you can take stairs and shortcuts, but that’s not really the case with bikes. We soon found ourselves lifting our bikes up stairs and in the middle of traffic of an extremely busy and un-bike-able road. We pushed closer and closer to our goal, but I eventually had to call it. Not only were were constantly riding down one way streets the opposite way, but we kept forgetting the backwards roads. We didn’t make it to our goal park of Chiyoda, but we end up back in Ueno Park dehydrated from the humidity and hills, and decided to stop and get a refreshing juice drink. These drinks ended up costing us $18.00 (I mean, they were delicious coconut drinks, but $18?!?!?) In total we biked around 5 miles. Our morning Frogger biking experience prepared us for our next traffic activity that day, go-karting throughout the streets of Shibuya.

MariCAR in Tokyo is a very touristy thing you can do Tokyo, mostly foreigners participate, and I was somewhat dreading it. To be honest, I was really nervous about driving a go-kart through road traffic dressed as Pikachu.. (I mean honestly who wouldn’t be?? Oh, Chad). It only took me around 5 minutes to get into it, and soon the adrenaline ignited my need for speed and soon enough I was flying around corners trying to keep up with our guide. It was such an insane, terrifying experience. We sped through Shibuya crossing twice, speeding at 50mph (or what felt like 50mph). When we got back to the garage and parked our go-karts, our guide said happily, “No one died!”

The interesting thing about the traffic here is that the back roads are mostly small roads that you can walk freely on. There are no sidewalks but suggested painted lines in the asphalt. The back streets built for pedestrians and small cars, which is a really nice feeling compared to cities in the US where the card dominates all of the time. There is less noise pollution once off main roads, it’s safe for bicycles and there is an overall calm to the back roads of Tokyo. But yesterday Chad and I decided to jump into oncoming traffic.

10 Miles In Tokyo

A four-year-old whizzes past me on a little bike while we walk to Ueno Park. Where are his parents? No where, and they don’t need to be, since the streets of Tokyo are so incredibly safe and clean. We are on mile 7 of the day, after waking up at 4am, exploring the neighborhood and closest temple, and signing up for a free walking tour (which unfortunately I had to leave early because I got an extreme migraine and had to lay down in a dark room). Luckily, Chad’s energy is contagious (or is it incessant?) and pretty soon after my headache went away we were on our way to get our first taste of sushi and then another long walk.

We make our way now to Ueno Park, the weather a perfect temperature with the sun setting. I take in the architecture of Tokyo, a light, modern feeling, and a surprising amount brick. As we enter the park, there are a group of Japanese men dressed like Elvis dancing to his music, in a circle, with no one cheering or watching. Curious. We meander throughout Ueno Park as the sun set a cotton candy color. There are food stalls and we eat our fifth fried food of the day. Americans are not the only ones who love fried food. A child starts to scream bloody hell as Ed Sheeran’s song, Perfect, is played by a street musician. The child’s shirt says “Peace”. I’ve noticed that so many children’s clothes are have adorable English phrases on them. I noted one that said “Cute Fun Great”. I love it.

We walk a giant loop around the park, before we head back to the hotel. Mileage is clocking in at 10 miles for the fist day. We end up back to the hotel around 7:30pm, my feet with 5 new bandaids. Just like the energizer bunny, once the battery is drained, Chad’s head hits the pillow, he’s out cold. Day one in Japan, 14 hours of walking, a total of 10.2 miles and a crash onto a pillow.