This trip almost didn’t happen, mostly because either Lisa or I couldn’t stop putting it off for one reason or another. We had IES field trips, host family obligations, my dad took up two weekends, exams, the works. So when Lisa pointed out that we basically had a free week right before we left (save for an exam each on Friday), we decided to jump on the opportunity. We left Monday morning by shinkansen*, stayed overnight and returned late Tuesday morning.
I finally got a un-blurred picture of the Nozomi super-express. Believe it or not, that train is still going about 40 mph in this photo.
Lisa in front of the train right before we scrambled on board. The thing was almost empty and we had our choice of seats. I wish I remembered what Lisa’s t-shirt said…
Because there were so few people on the train, I was able to run around and catch the best possible shot that could be had of Mt. Fuji from a high-speed train using my camera. However, I had a chance for a better shot – there was a brief moment where I could both the mountain itself and its reflection in a river under the train, but I was too slow. Drat.
After arriving at Tokyo Station (which, thankfully, is having its more historical bits restored), we popped out for a bit before hopping right back on the train. Saw the Imperial moat and as much of the Palace as you can see on a Monday (none).
From there, we used the Yamanote line to get to Harajuku, known for its crazy clothing shops, at Lisa’s request. I had been hoping to catch a glimpse of the area since I missed it with Ceci two years ago, but it turned out to be a bit small and disappointing. Of course, any place that involves buying clothing in Japan seems a bit small and disappointing to someone like me.
Next up was Shinjuku, with its giant Takashimaya/Tokyu Hands department store and the six-stories of Kinokuniya, the biggest bookstore I’ve ever seen (okay, maybe Powell’s is bigger). I didn’t get a picture of either of those places, but…
…apparently Krispy Kreme has made it to Japan, complete with ridiculously long lines.
From there we headed to Asakusa, where our ‘hotel’ was. Maybe you’ve heard of ‘capsule hotels’? Well, they’re right in the college student price range, so we decided to check one out.
They were actually bigger than I would have expected and fairly comfortable while you were awake. There was a TV with local channels and the lighting was bright enough for comfortable reading and knitting. They were also ‘tall’ enough that I (about 175cm tall) didn’t feel like I had to hunch and long enough that my feet weren’t sticking out other end. The hotel had a decent-ish public bath and wasn’t crowded at all.
Not bad, eh? Well, except that the ‘futon’ was about two inches thick and the pillow not much better, so I’d only recommend them for people young enough to shake off that kind of strain in the morning. It’s Thursday and I’m still not sure if my neck is going to forgive me.
Also, there’s no proper door on the front of your capsule, just a pull down curtain. Just FYI.
After a convenience store breakfast the next morning, we stopped by the shrine in Asakusa for a visit and some last minute shopping. This is the first time I’ve this particular shrine gate with a protective covering of scaffolding. Most of the stalls in front with awnings are selling hagoita (battledore) paddles. It used to be a tradition for girls to play battledore around the beginning of the new year, but now the paddles are mostly purchased as good luck items. They’re incredibly ornate and some of them are much too huge to be used by any one person. The link has a few good pictures.
We left from Tokyo before noon, mostly because I had work that afternoon.
Some knitting was accomplished – I finished the sleeves for Eiffel and got back to plugging away on the body.
Tomorrow – the much-awaited post on my job at Nanzan Elementary.
* Dear Firefox, ‘shinkansen’ is so a real word.