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Monday April 18th 7pm was the last night and our final dinner of the first Hidden Japan tour of the year. We were in Shinjuku, the bright neon heart of central Tokyo.
We ate at a traditional izakaya (Japanese diner). Earlier in our tour, we had a memorable picnic under the sakura that included scotch eggs, now with the salarymen below the skyscrapers in Shinjuku, our table contained grated yam, natto and raw horse amongst more conventional dishes.
After dinner we went for a walk up to Kabukicho, the bright sprawling night-time entertainment district. Contrary to reports, all the lights were on – well the important ones were anyway, and there seemed to be alot of night-time entertainment going on – whatever that is.
Stores are cutting back on non-essential electricity use. But walking around Shinjuku, we saw some machines are just too important to stop – like the pinball pachinko and the table-flipping stress-release game. We watched one gentleman almost snap one of these machines in half with his barely contained fury.
Our stroll concluded at Omoide Yokocho, affectionately known as Piss Alley. The atmosphere was lively, althought the crowds were thinner than usual. It may not sound a great place to eat, but there are some wonderful little dinner-dens here, including a 1940s counter bar that only serves eel.
It`s now Tuesday morning, and my group have left Tokyo on the Narita Express train. Fortunately for me, left in Tokyo, the cherry blossoms are still in bloom. I can still have a hanami picnic, although I doubt I can manage a whole pack of Scotch eggs on my own.