Tokyo’s Monkey Island

Monkey Island is in the middle of the Thames, or in the middle of Tokyo Bay, take your pick.

The one in Tokyo Bay doesn’t have a poncey hotel with peacocks strolling around the lawns, like the one in the Thames, but it does, on occasion, have loads of young Tokyo-ites barbecuing on the beach. It’s the only natural island in Tokyo Bay, all the others are man-made on land reclaimed from the sea. It’s a pain to get to, a 50 minute train ride from Shinagawa station to Yokosuka then a taxi to Mikasa Park where a pair of crummy old catamarans take ten minutes to get you to the island’s even crummier old rusting jetty. ‘Elf ‘n safety would have a ruddy fit. But there’s something about the atmosphere on the beach where you can hire barbecue gear and buy beer. It’s not an exuberant atmosphere, it’s a peaceful, having-a-good-chatty-time sort of atmosphere. There was not a note of music. Some people had headphones on, but it seemed to me that in such a gathering of a couple of hundred in the UK there’d always be one arsehole with a ghetto-blaster. Off the beach the rest of the island is grim, a few dismembered gun emplacements and a ludicrously hopefully named dank ‘tunnel of love’ in which anyone having the slightest intention of doing anything remotely connected with love would have to be completely barking bonkers. But anyone at a loss for lunch in Tokyo could do worse than rounding up a posse, heading out to Monkey Island, swallowing some bevvies on the beach, getting some fresh sea air and a swim, and throwing something on the barbie.

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