I was awake at 5am, i wrote a couple of blog posts and went down to the pool at 7am, signed in on the sheet, the girl checked my room number and name and said ok, then pulled (very politely) a laminated sheet from under the counter with the list of charges on it for the use of the pool and the gym! $23 to use the pool and $40 to use the pool and gym! As much as i do like nice hotels it just irks me so much, not when they actually charge for things like this but when they charge so much! i wouldn't mind paying $10 but $23 for a swim! Its always the nice expensive hotels that do this too, you go to a Days Inn and while the service and rooms are nowhere near as good, you get free Wi-Fi, free pool, free breakfast etc!
I declined the charge (politely of course) signed out and headed back up to the room for a show. Kami was up but Mark was still sleeping. kami and her dad headed down for breakfast and Mark had a meeting in the lobby at 10am, this didn't last long and we all headed out of the room around 11ish.
We walked to the nearest Metro station, Tameikessano, and took the 20 minute rode to Akasakamitsuke, The ticket was about $2 and the metro was spotless, on time and efficient. You can tell the whole city is built for “smaller” people than Mark and i. I’m 6ft 2” and i think Marks about 6ft 4”, we towered over everyone's heads on the train, even knocking our heads and having to duck down under all the hanging advertising banners! I’m a huge people watcher and its great to not just watch people, but watch people of a totally different culture and the metro was a great place to just sit and watch people. EVERYONE has a smart phone out here and they all sit and use them on the Metro, its very rare people will ever make eye contact with you, as in any culture is considered rude to stare but even if you catch their eye and see Japanese people looking at you they will look down to the ground instantly and not look back.
View from our hotel room Metro lines Beware of cats!
As we got of the Metro and walked out of the entrance it was a mass of local people with the odd western tourist. We crossed the street to what looked like a market area but was the main walkway down towards the temple that we had come to see.The first thing i actually saw when we walked out of the station was 3 rickshaw type carriages parked up. As we crossed the street i looked to my right and got an great view of the new Tokyo Skytower that opened last month, unfortunately tickets were done on a lottery system for the first month until the middle of July so we’re unable to go up to the observation deck at the moment. its a HUGE tower and i believe the tallest free standing tower in the world. There was also a building with a huge gold sculpture on the top, Kami told me how this was known as the “turd”! it was originally meant to look like a flame on the top of the building but it proved too heavy to balance and was thus mounted on its side!
The main walkway upto the temple was packed with small stores, all with open fronts onto the street. There were places selling fans, kimonos, lucky items to leave at the temple and lots of strange food and drinks! The first thing we saw was a small store that sold one item only, It was a type of cake about 2” long, soft cake on the outside and a sweet black bean paste on the inside. These were made fresh by a machine that was hypnotic to watch, there were 5 or 6 people in the store and this one machine just churning out hundreds of the cake.
It took us at least an hour to walk the street to the temple. Mark bought a new hat, Kami was in her element looking at all the fans and Japanese things and i was just walking round open eyed at everything! When we left the hotel this morning it was cloudy and cool but by the time we’d got off the train and were wandering around the sun had come out and it was hot (hence Marks hat purchase) We had bought some of the small cakes earlier but i wasn't keen at all on these so when Mark saw some little lemon type cakes and asked if i wanted one i wasn't too sure at first, there's just no real way of telling what stuff is! its all in Japanese with no English descriptions at all so its just pot luck. As it happened the lemon cakes were nice, there was just a mouthful of cake that has some type of lemon paste in the middle. kami does know what a lot of the food things are but there's just so many that there’s still a lot she has no idea about.
Scary masks Didn't have one but they looked nice! Mark in his new hat
As we got to the temple Kami headed off to the Bathroom while Mark tried to find a trashcan, something which to say how clean Tokyo is is a very rare find! especially in the subway stations, due to bomb threats etc I sat and waited for them to return and people watched again.I watched the guy next to me light up a cigarette right next to one of the many no smoking signs where we were. We also saw all the gardeners keeping the gardens tidy had these small round metal tin like things on their butts that would send smoke out every 20 seconds or so, these turned out to be a way of keeping the insects away whilst gardening! We joked how we should take one back for Beth and try explain to her that we had brought her a mosquito repellent back from Japan to save her getting bit while out in the garden but we had to strap it to her butt and set if on fire!! something I’m not sure would go down real well.
Rickshaw guys all looked pretty fit! Finally, the temple! Doh!!
As we got near the temple i could see people crowded around a small building and shaking these silver canisters.This is a huge thing in Japan, you put 100yen in a slot, pick up the canister that has about 25 chopstick type things in there's a hole in one end just large enough for one of them to fall out. When you get your “chopstick” there's a number written on it in Japanese.You then look for the corresponding number on the small wooden drawer in front of you that have numbers on them and take out one of the slips of paper inside. Its kind of like having your fortune told and there's good ones and bad ones, if you get a bad one then you tie it in a special way to a fence type unit that's next to the building. mine was pretty good and if you get a good one you don't tie it t the fence but keep hold of it.
Kami’s wasn't as good as mine so ended up tying it to the fence!
This was fortune paper:
There was a huge pot of incense at the entrance to the temple and your meant to stand by the side of it and wave the incense over you, didn't do much for me just made me cough! There's then a large fountain with small cups on the end of stick, you’re meant to take one of the cups, fill it with water and take a little sip, this is meant to cleanse your body before entering the temple.
Before you enter the temple, you take out a 5cent coin and throw it in a large collector and i guess make a wish! lucky pieces of wood to buy, 100 jen to be told your gonna have bad luck, 5 yen here, 5 yen there, its just one big cash cow! We wandered around the temple and its garden for 20 minutes before heading back out down a different street in search of food and drink!
Temple Group shot!
We found a great little outdoor eating place along a street filled with bars and places to have a snack. As we sat down the lady pointed out that she didn't have a menu written in English, that was fine, little did they know we had our secret weapon, Japanese speaking Kami:) mark and i ordered two cold beers and left the food choice up to Kami.
Kami ordered some French fries, chicken on a stick and some ramen noodles, all of which were amazing and Mark and i commented on how both of us could just sit there for the rest of the day with cold beer, good food, company and excellent people watching! Sadly we had other things to do and headed off back down the busy streets after an hour but not before seeing more weird sights
Tall Japanese person! Corgi in boots Why ?
We took a cab to our next port of call which took maybe 15 minutes at the most. As you can imagine, Japan is the centre of the world when it comes to electronics and we were heading to that very centre, Electric city!
To be continued….