Parks, swords and sake
Trip Start May 15, 2010
29Trip End Jun 06, 2010
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Where I stayed
The skies were cloudless and it was already getting very hot as we made our way to the station to get the train from Ueno to Tokyo Station, following our plan to visit the Imperial Palace East Gardens. The gardens are only a short walk from Tokyo Station and we were soon crossing what remains of the moat which once surrounded the site of the former Edo Castle, established by the Tokugawas in the 17th Century. We entered the gardens via the Ote-mon Gate and made our way past the three remaining guard house that once protected the entry path to the inner environs of the castle, now the gardens
The gardens are very large, covering 210,000 square meters, and are very impressive. They lack the intimacy of the Shukkeien Garden in Hiroshima, still the best thing we've seen, but nonetheless have some really beautiful areas. Again, we took too many photos to publish but there's a selection for your delectation.
After a couple of hours in the gardens we made our way back to the station to find our way to the Yoyogi area, negotiating Shinjuku Station, described to me before we left for Japan as 'a nightmare' and registered in the Guinness Book of World Records as the busiest station in the world (3.64 million people per day in 1997), much to Andy's consternation; he hates not knowing how he's going to get to where he's going, in complete contrast to me, who thinks 'Well, someone's BOUND to be able to tell us where it (whatever 'it' is) is'. We were standing on the platform after getting off the train from Tokyo Station, looking at the signs and trying to find the right line for the next leg of our journey, when we were approached by a lady who spoke perfect English, offering her help, vindicating my suck-it-and-see approach to navigation. She was headed in our general direction and took us as far as she could before giving us very clear directions to our intended next train
There's been a short intermission while we went to the hotel restaurant so Andy could have his beloved yakitori chicken, only tonight we've had a flask of hot sake with it, so the standard of writing may go rapidly downhill, if that's possible; kanpai! (hic).
After the museum we made our way to Yoyogi Park (no, Booboo san wasn't there). I'd been expecting a park much like parks we have in the UK, you know, lawns and stuff, with the odd shrine, but I couldn't have been more wrong. The park is densely wooded with open natural grassy spaces, not the manicured lawns we're used to. To be honest, we were both knackered by this time and our feet and legs ached, so after a short sit down to recover a bit, we set off for Yoyogi Station. As luck would have it, Yoyogi is on the JR Yamanote line which loops around the centre of the city and eventually took us back to Ueno without having to change trains
Arriving at Ueno, Andy went back to the hotel and I went off to Yodobashi Cameras to get an extension lead for my iPod. Having made my purchase I made a spectacular exit from the shop; I was so tired, I missed the step and went sprawling into the street (and I hadn't had a drink at that point) but luckily managed to get my hands down and didn't hurt myself. I was too tired to even be embarrassed. I bought some bananas from the fruit stall and made my way back to the hotel, the shower and bed for a couple of hours before rousing myself and Andy and going downstairs for dinner.
Tomorrow we're going to the Tokyo Metropolitan Edo-Tokyo Museum, which thankfully we can reach by train without much walking involved. When we've finished there, we're coming back to the Tokyo National Museum, in Ueno Park, to look at their netsuke collection; at least that's the plan.