Day 2 – what?

May 11, 2007 at 11:15 am | Posted in Japan, Tokyo, Travel | 1 Comment
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Bizarrely, or not really to be unexpected, but on day 2 things just went a bit wonky. I woke up hungry and groggy and not from alcohol induced slumber, so went out in search of food. I think I need a primer on Japanese breakfast / early morning food because it all gets lumped in with what I (cultural icon that I am) would consider eating in the evening. I`m not yet comfortable with eating Western style for breakfast. I`m also still adverse to eating from convenience stores.

So I wander aimlessly through the markets hoping for something interesting looking. No luck and it seems as though most shops don]t become active until much later around midday – granted they close at 8 or 9 in the evening.

Deciding to skip the food option until lunch I move onto my second task – access to the internet. While I can do this at the hotel I wanted to check out a manga cafe. Apparently there were several in Ueno and in I went and as I walked up the stairs I got the feeling that this was not your standard manga cafe. My first clue? Porn posters on the wall. Followed by porn movies for rent in the reception area (no sign of manga). So the internet led me astray in looking for places to use the internet, perhaps it really is all about sex?

Waits for hits based on the preceding paragraph….

I decide to skip the option of sitting in a leather chair and using the Internet. Until later when I`m advised on a reputable and legitimate manga cafe. Has the same booths etc but a much less sleazy vibe.

Before the real manga cafe I had some ramen noodles at a shop near the station and is always packed. For good reason it was very tasty.

Perhaps as a result of the food, dehydration (always thirsty in Tokyo), jet lag or not drinking coffee for a few days but I was exhausted and so went and slept.

Yes it is this riveting. Shut up.

Until later in the evening when I met an Aussie friend for a drink and a quick catch up before we had to go our separate ways. Him to work and me to wander around Shinjuku and all the bright shiny lights. Tonight for dinner I tried a sushi train and given there were plenty of locals I thought I was onto something but unfortunately not. I can say that I have had better in Sydney or Brisbane.

I will try more sushi before I leave and hope it`s better.

All in all a quiet day but on my way home I reserved a seat on the Shinkansen bound for Osaka and day Day 3.  

Day 1 – Ueno

May 11, 2007 at 2:29 am | Posted in Japan, Tokyo, Travel | Leave a comment
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Ueno, or wino, as I like to call it due to all the homeless, is a microcosm of Japan (so says he who has seen 0.00001% of the country). With sprawling transportation grids, parks and cultural icons, shopping (both department and market) and of course food there is a lot to offer in this locality. Not to mention a very reasonably priced hotel within minutes of the station.

My first real day in Japan I decided to be cultural and visit the Tokyo National Museum and Art Gallery. My guide book informs me that if you only have one day of museum visiting then you must go here. So off I went, first to the Art Gallery via Ueno park. Ueo park is the home of not only the aforementioned buildings but also shrines and the zoo. Oh and homeless. Don`t worry though this is Japan where the homeless don`t bother anyone. Except maybe the cats. There seem to be quite a few in the park and I`m not sure if they`re strays or pets. Nonetheless the park is large and pleasant to wander around.  I`ll insert pictures later.

Now for the Art Gallery where I was looking forward to getting a good overview of Japanese art – except that all of the galleries were closed in preparation for something or other. That is for the one special exhibit on Russian art. So I`ve now been fortunate enough to get a better understanding of 18th – 19th century Russian art and hope that when I arrive in London there will be a Japanese exhibit!

Time for the big guns, the best museum in Japan, and there is another special exhibit on, this time for Leonardo daVinci, so some of it has been closed. What I did see was a fairly traditional here are pots, pans, swords, statues, display that charts their development over `x` number of years. Fairly disappointing. I prefer a museum that provides greater context. Granted it was 5 years ago when I went but in Tokyo my money is on the Edo-Tokyo museum for that type of quality.

After the museum I wandered into Yasuka (I`m pretty sure that`s the name) and wandered aimlessly until I arrived at the cemetary – largest in Tokyo – and eventually peered through the gates at the burial site of the last Tokugawa.

I meandered back along a fairly vague path back to Ueno and headed into Tokyo station to organise a Japanese mobile (most phones don`t work here – although next gen ones may)  and had some excellent fortune. For reasons too silly to go into now I was at one shop (which had what I needed) but I preferred a different brand so they very nicely gave me a map. I promptly got turned around and when I asked a passing person for assistance was walked to the mobile shop! Great! She got my very first domo arrigato gozaimasu (unlike the usual domo / arrigato). Unfortunately this shop said it didn`t have what I wanted and suggested I go back to the other company. So off I went and made my purchase. While I waited for the activation I took the time to look around the financial centre (leaving the Imperial Gardens for another day).

After that I returned to Ueno for dinner in the market area where food stalls nestle next to shops and pachinko (Kristy I`ve inserted a link for you!).  Then off to bed.

 I know such a piker but when you`ve been an inactive office worker these things take their toll.

More shortly.  Hopefully at a PC where I can find the correct apostrophe.

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