Saturday, 24 March 2018

Tokyo for the second time

In October last year, I visted Japan agin. This time I decided to spend half of my vacation in Tokyo. I’d been once before, but only for a few days which really isn’t long enough. This time I stayed for a week, which still isn’t long enough but is better than before.

I arrived during a heavy downpour and took a while to find my hotel. I felt a bit self-conscious as I booked in at reception, soaking wet, and left a puddle where I had been standing. Not only that but the rain got into my luggage and soaked my neatly folded clothes in new and interesting ways. In this photo you can see it looks like I’ve been wearing a wet bra under my nice dry jumper.

I went to Kamakura on one of the rare days of good weather to look at the temples and the Daibutsu. The place was full of tourists, but luckily most things you want to photo are quite high up, so they don’t get in the way.

Being the contrary type, I preferred the temples that were a furthest from the centre. My feet didn’t appreciate the walk there, but the Zuisenji Temple was a welcome relief from the crowds. It’s also quite unlike the other temples in that the grounds are not sparse and neat, but featured dense gardens making every pathway seem a bit secret and exciting.

I based myself in Nippori, north of Ueno Park, which is just next to Yanaka. This is one of the quieter pockets of Tokyo which has escaped too much redevelopment. I took a walk recommended in my 1980 tour book to see how accurate it still was. And for most of the time, apart from a couple of shops which had closed, it was still pretty much spot on. It lead me from one temple to another, ending up at the Nezu Shrine with its small but pretty pathways of toriis.

I also found this cafe, which I absolutely loved. Not just because I really needed a sit down, but also for the decor and the food which were both very nice.

Talking of Yanaka, I visited a very nice (and brand new) Sake bar Chin-nen, and I spent a nice evening trying different types of sake and chatting to the manager, who spoke some English (and a little French, too). I asked him what the name meant and he admitted it didn't really mean anything.

A few years ago, on my other blog, I wrote about my attempts at locating a Japanese street I found on an old piece of film footage.

Ever since then, I've always wanted to go back and see if anything at all remains from that day to this. Looking on Google Street View suggested that there wasn't but I thought that, since I was in the neighbourhood, I'd go and have a look for myself.

And I was very pleased to find something: The air vents for the underground system. I'm sure that the actual grills have been replaced, but this is an example of something with the same function in the same place after seventy years which, in a city that reinvented itself as radically as Tokyo, seemed pretty special.

Finally, just because it's one of those things I thought I should do at least once, I went for a night out in Roppongi.

It was very expensive, as I knew it would be, costing about £60 which is an awful lot for a few drinks at a bar and some live music. Good job I didn't order food. But I think I chose well, going to see a Beatles tribute act at the club Abbey Road.

The staff were very friendly and several came to chat with me, although I was a little embarrassed to admit to each one that I'd never actually gone to Liverpool despite my love of The Beatles. Plus, my last drink was free which was a nice gesture.

So those are the highlights of my trip to Tokyo. I hope to write more about my return to Matsue soon.

Super Mario gives no shits about the rain.

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