Sorry about the silence, I had no internet for the rest of my trip and jet-lag hit me harder than anticipated. But here is more from Japan.
On Day 3 I head to Harajuku, one of the major shopping areas, but arrived too early. Below is a store entrance.
All the shops were still closed. It appears 11am is the when everybody deems it time to go shopping;). After wandering around for a little bit and having a tea out of the vending machine (not something I recommend;) I discovered the Meiji-jingu shrine. It was build in honour of the Emperor and his wife. It has a very long walkway, which was beautiful.
I was lucky enough to witness a Shinto wedding. I felt a little sorry for bride and groom. On one of the most important days of their lives they have snap-happy tourists taking pictures and they will be forever in random people’s photo albums. Still, they looked gorgeous;).
My next stop was the Nezu museum. It was pretty inside, but it had the most beautiful tea garden. I could have walked around for hours. It had nooks and crannies, little stone paths and water features. The photos don’t really show the details, but may give an idea.
After the museum I headed to Shinjuku and took the elevator up to the observatory. Great view across Tokyo, but it was too hazy to see Mt. Fuji.
I wandered some more after the observatory, including attempting to buy an adapter. My battery charger is from the UK, i.e. has three pins, so I needed it adapted to the Japanese two-pin. It was an adventure:). In the evening I headed to the onsen again. I really wished for paper while I bathed. I kept thinking about my text story.
I arrived in Tokyo on Tuesday after a rather bumpy 4 hour plane ride from Hong Kong. The in-flight entertainment on All Nippon Air was a disaster. They had films like The Terminal, but nothing new. Luckily I had a copy of The Last Twilight by Majorie M. Liu at hand. It was my first introduction to the world of Dirk & Steel and I will visit it again;).
Anyway, I arrived and bravely entered the train/subway system in an attempt to save some money. The subway system in and by itself is no problem. I lived in London for years and the Tube and the Tokyo subway are very similar. At least on paper. In the real world the stations are big enough to cover city blocks underground with dozens of exits. They have some English signage, but only close to the station, after that you have to hope you remembered the right colour line. I found my hotel after taking the wrong road and finally asked a nice gentleman. He laughed and told me it was just a little further on the road.
Tokyo is a beautiful city and they have maps on every street corner making it easy to find your way around. If you know where you’re going and have a travel guide that gives correct directions. I love Lonely Planet. I travel everywhere with them, but the Japan guide leaves things to be desired. Their maps are tiny and the fold out map in the back barely covers the centre of the city. It’s not that big a deal as every wrong turn you make in Tokyo can lead to a beautiful discovery, but I’ve found myself in a few unusual places:).
On Wednesday I started out with the Tsukiji Fish Market, but only had a brief walk around. I prefer to see my food in neat slices and not with the tails flapping and their heads attached. Call me a supermarket hunter. My next stop was the Imperial Palace.
Unfortunately you can’t see a lot as it is hidden behind a massive wall. Still, the bits you saw were beautiful and the East Garden is open to the public. The gardens are gorgeous. Tokyo is one of the cleanest and greenest cities I’ve ever been to. You can’t take two steps without a little hedge or a potted plant and the seating areas dotted about are beautiful. I found myself sitting down a lot, just enjoying the beautiful sunshine in great surroundings. And I now understand the obsession with cherry blossoms. Everywhere I saw one I had to take a picture.
After spending far too much time watching the amazing and continuously changing water fountains I headed to Shibuya, the busiest crossing in the world. They guesstimate that around 100,000 people walk across every hour. I sat in the highest grossing Starbucks, which sells only tall drinks to stop people from lingering, and took a couple of pictures. The pictures don’t give you a feel for how many people come at you when you’re crossing. It’s kind of fun.
And here one from ground level at night
I ended day 1 at the Odeo-Onsen-Monogatari. It is a bath house and absolutely amazing. I got lost a few times on the way to the women’s bath, but once I found it I was in heaven. They have a number of baths with different temperatures, inside and outside. I particularly loved going from 41C to the cool bath at 20C. It is so wonderfully refreshing. Sitting outside in the rather nippy March night and having the wind blow against your face while the rest of your body is warm feels amazing. I was a bit of a wuss and could only stand the sauna and the steam room for a minute or so, it was just too hot for me. Still, I managed to while away about two hours and walked out with a melted brain and a body that contained no tension;).
This morning I headed to the Senso-ji, a beautiful temple. It is very touristy in the area, but still beautiful.
Afterwards it was off to Ueno and the Tokyo National Museum. The building is beautiful and once again it had a great garden to sit in.
Once I finished at the museum I walked for about 20-30 minutes, looking for a restaurant my guide book mentioned, a restaurant that serves all kinds of tofu. I found it and had a real Japanese eating experience. Sitting on the floor with a low table before me. This was my view out of the window
It’s a little fuzzy because its through glass. I had nine kinds of tofu and was delighted with every bite. I was glad I took the chance and hiked off the beaten path.
Okay, enough picture spam for one day. Hope you all are doing well and having a great time wherever you are.