Sunday, October 21, 2007

Thursday 18th The Ueno Death March - Gilles

Ok so this was “recover from the flight day”.

So much for that bright idea, try to have a relaxing walk through one of the most visually diverse parts of Tokyo with major shrines and temples. So we get up after not enough sleep, our biological clocks resisting our feeble attempts to stay unconscious. With everyone else in the ryokan asleep early in the morning we go for a walk heading East along Kaminarimon dori with Cindy and Steven stopping to take pictures of various storefronts, shopping arcades and the city waking up. When we reach the famous Kaminarimon gate it is very early, around 6 am, the famous Nakamise shopping arcade is not open, this is a good thing as the area is not crowded and the shutters in front of the shops are down and covered in murals. Cindy and Steven take pictures.

We also see lots of people walking small, very well trained and cute dogs. The Japanese are early risers and it is not unusual to see people out and about at times when most Americans would be just getting up. At the end of Nakamise is the famous Sensoji temple so we walk through the grounds with their sub shrines listening tot he priests do their morning chants. Cindy and Steven take pictures. After some time we head back to the ryokan and ask the manager about where to get breakfast. He directs us to a nice place for traditional Japanese breakfast, most restaurants being closed in the morning. We find the restaurant and are instructed by the waitress on how to use the ticket machine. We later find out such ticket machines are common. This machine has both pictures, prices and the names of the meals. After a breakfast of miso soup, rice, natto, pickles, etc. we head back to the ryokan to pick up items for a short walk around the neighborhood.

That short walk would last until the evening. We headed back towards Sensoji as Steven wanted to take pictures of the Hanayashiki amusement park nearby. We then discovered a lively neighborhood of old shops and homes with potted plants and people walking and cycling. As we continued to wander we kept finding other interesting structures and items which, of course, Cindy and Steven shot pictures of. Over time we reached a very bust street and proceeded down it. At one point we saw a hummingbird moth, looking very much like a bright green hummingbird flitting from flower to flower on a potted plant between a very busy avenue and sidewalk. We were all too enthralled to remember to take a picture.

After some more wandering we found ourselves at Ueno Station, we had done quite a hike with many detours to get there. After finding a restroom, including scary traditional Japanese toilets - which we did not have to use, we decided to skip the famous Ueno Koen (park) and head back, by then it was past 4 pm. We did walk through part of the park and at the National Museum of Western Art sculpture garden Cindy and Steven took some pictures of some Rodin sculptures.

A short subway ride back to Asakusa we dropped stuff off at the ryokan, grabbed dinner at a noodle place, using a ticket machine again; handy things those machines, and headed back to the ryokan to, shower an get to bed early.

Oh yes I did call a friend who is also in town with his mom visiting relatives and we planned to meet the next day.

- Gilles

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