Asia | Japan | Tokyo – Three Days in Tokyo – Day Three
Monday morning in Nagaoka I rose to pack and have one more breakfast with Yayoi and her mother. Her mother makes such a spread for breakfast! Today I had toast, hot dogs, watermelon, tomatoes and hot tea for breakfast. A few more pictures of their house and garden, packing the car, and I am off again to the train station. Yayoi dropped me off on her way to work, and I was soon seated on another shinkansen train to Tokyo. My final destination for the day is to arrive in Kyoto, but during the day, I could see some more of Tokyo.
As I arrived in Tokyo, my first goal was to find a locker. That is a definite plus in this country. Every train station seems to have and area of lockers where a traveler can store their bags for the day. So for 600 Yen, I lock away my suitcase for the day. Right not I am only carrying, or more like dragging, one bag since I was able to lighten my load my giving Yayoi and her family their gifts.
I enter the sunlight, and my first goal is the post office. I have more postcards to mail! It is 70 yen for a postcard anywhere in the world, so off I send more messages to friends. Next, I walk to the grounds of the Imperial Palace. It is very near the Tokyo main train station, and a beautiful and well guarded site. As tourists near, the guards call out Namae wa dess ka? What is your name? Only pre-registered groups can enter inside the walls of the Palace Grounds. I follow the path around the outside of the wall. There is a public park filled with Tokyoites enjoying the day. The grass is clipped as tightly as an inch from the ground, and the trees are all neatly sheared into decorative shapes. People of the city are enjoying the area, having picnics or taking naps under the trees.
Continuing my walk around the palace, I venture out the Sakuradamon Gate to follow the trail alongside the moat around the rest of the palace walls. Out here, the grounds are in a much different condition. There are long grasses and weeds sprouting up between the bushes, and morning glory vines tracing their way through and over the shrubbery. Quite a surprise to see this lack of maintenance on what looks to be the Palace Grounds. Across the moat, I saw three groundskeepers working their way through knee high brush with weed whackers.
I continued around the moat, and came to another gate with a road leading into the Palace grounds. There were police standing about, locals prepared with cameras, and inside the gate you could glimpse a motorcade preparing to depart. I chose a spot, and waited. As the motorcade departed, pictures were taken, and some very, very deep bows were offered. I really have no idea who was in the cars, but the other pedestrians sure knew!
I continued around the moat. In one area is a Craft Gallery Museum, National Museum of Modern Art, Science Museum, Kitanomaru-koen Park, and across the road, the Imperial Palace East Garden, the only part of the grounds that are open to the public. Unfortulently, they are not open on Mondays. Next stop, Science Museum.
This museum was very similar to other museum with static exhibits on many different topics. The museum had five stories, and one whole floor was devoted to bicycles. In Japan, I have seen more bicycles than cars on the streets. One exhibit room was filled with the technical parts of how a bicycle works, and photos of people the world round with their bicycles. Another room was filled with books and posters and information on bicycle history and competitions. In particular, the Tour de France. I could not tell if any Japanese person had ever one the Tour de France, but I could tell that they like Lance Armstrong very much.
Another way this museum was very similar to other museum is the hordes of children visiting it. I learned in any language, in any land, a screaming child is just as annoying.
Back into the sunlight, and to finish my tour of the Palace grounds. As I finished my circle, I found a police box and asked directions to my next point of interest. A couple of subway stops later, and I had found
An IMAX! I am an IMAX connoisseur, and if I can get the chance, I will always visit a new one. Most of the time I dont even care what film Ill be seeing. There are 16 IMAX theaters in Japan. I had sought this one out for a reason it was showing the Matrix. I have seen the film in the States before I left, on a regular theatre screen. It is a spectacular piece of visual art, and seeing it in IMAX format only increases the visual stimulation to the brain. Listing to it in Japanese, my brain filled with new words. It was well worth my time, and my 1800 Yen.
Back to the train station. In one station, I stumbled upon a sushi restaurant where the chefs stand in the middle, and they prepare your sushi and send it around the table on a conveyer belt. What a wonderful way to eat! I had a seat, and looked to discover a lower conveyer belt which had cups and bags of green tea circling the island. Between seating stations were spigots of hot water to fill your cups with. Then to the sushi, oh the delightful sushi. First I chose a shrimp. Then a tasty piece of tuna strolled by and caught my eye. I do feel like a fish in the sea with my dinner swimming by just waiting for me to snap out and devour my treat. My choice of tuna was followed by a piece of salmon, then yellowtail, then finally, a large piece of eel. Ahhhhh. I this point I am feeling sated with sushi and rice. All the pieces come on plates which are trimmed in one of five colors: pink, light green, blue, dark green, and finally purple. The color of the plate trim shows the price of the dish. Pink was 150 Yen, going up to 400 Yen listed for a purple dish. I never saw any purple dishes go around the track. As I prepared to go, a waitress came and totaled up how many of each color I had at my place setting, this totaled my bill which I took to pay at the register. I like this way of eating!
Finally I made it to the Tokyo station and found my way to my locker to recollect my bags. Anther shinkansen, this one to Kyoto, is my next ride. I board, and settle in, and smile. I am enjoying this trip, and the feeling of simplistic freedom gained by traveling alone here at my own pace, and on my own route. I will get to Kyoto about ten tonight, find my bed, and prepare for another journey tomorrow.