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This is the first full day of the Tokaido Trail tour, and it’s mostly centred on Tokyo, with advice from the tour leader as to where to go.

Day 5 Plan:

  • Breakfast
  • The tour leader will lead a tour of the city. This should cover:
    • Meiji Jingu Shrine
    • Harajuku
    • Plus others to be advised – possibly Akihabara, maybe a river bus ride on the Sumida River

Day 5 Actual:

Today was quite hectic.

Senso-Ji

We started with a walk to Senso-ji, and a discussion of the history of the temple. This included a look at the nearby Shinto shrine dedicated to the founders of Senso-ji.

Part of the history is the pilgrims route to the temple, and as a result a line of stalls/shops grew up along the route. We were there early enough that most of the stalls were closed but you can still get a sense of the length of the strip with the temple looming at the end:

The Path to Senso-ji

The entrance to the temple is through this enormous gate, which is already restored, unlike the the Kaminarimon at the other end of the Nakamise-dori (the shopping strip)

The Gate, featuring tour leader Brett’s back. 🙂

Once on the temple grounds the pagoda and the main temple building are very imposing.

The Pagoda

Brett introduced us to the practice of Omikuji, and I took part getting The Best Fortune which I then duly placed in my wallet for the rest of the trip. Brett also explained the tendency of Japanese mythology to contain loopholes. Get a bad fortune? Not a problem, tie it to the conveniently provided racks and let the wind blow the bad fortune away.

The Main Temple

Both

Right next door to Senso-ji (which is a Buddhist Temple), there’s a Shinto shrine (dedicated to the founders of Senso-ji IIRC). This is on a much smaller scale, and was quite charming. This is one of the reasons why a guided tour is often a good idea – Brett not only took us to the smaller shrine which I suspect many would miss, but gave a good rundown on the history of it as well.

The Shinto Shrine near Senso-ji

Sumida River

After that we took a river cruise down the Sumida River to the Hama-Rikyu Gardens during which the battery for my camera died. So the photos today are a mix of camera and phone camera.

One of the earliest sights on this cruise was the Asahi Beer Hall. The building on the left is intended to resemble a mug of beer, and apparently a well loved building in Japan. Then there’s the Golden Turd on the right which IIRC was supposed to be a vertical flame but was installed horizontally instead. That’s, ah, rather less popular.

Appreciate the Mug of Beer.

Some of the other views along the Sumida River were quite striking but glitches when I loaded the photos made sorting them problematic. Here’s a couple that I’ve salvaged from the mix:

Sumida River 1

Sumida River 2

Hama-Rikyu Gardens

The walk through the Hama-Rikyu (which auto-correct really wants to turn into “Ricky’s” by the way) was lovely. Both in the large…

The Hama-Rikyu Gardens

…the small…

Not sure what this is

…And the artistic on a large scale:

The 300 Year Elm (it’s actually older than that) – front

The 300 Year Elm – Side

The Elm is supposed to look like a waterfall.

The Miyazaki Clock

From the Hama-Rikyu we walked into Shiodome to the Nippon Television building which features a clock by Hayao Miyazaki with music by Joe Hisashi. There should be a video in the Google Photos Album, and this clock is an amazing creation.

The Miyazaki Clock

And here’s the really shaky video I took with my phone:

After that a quick trip to Ueno for a quick walk through a shopping district that used to be the black market after WWII. Brett pointed out various places and I chose a curry place. However it was run on a ticket system. So if you’re looking at the photo which is just a card with Japanese text on it here’s what happened: I stepped outside, picked what I wanted from the pictures in the window, took a photo, and then used that to pick from the ticket machine. That worked well enough.

Fun With Public Transport

Then things got hectic.

We were supposed to take the Yamanote (?) loop line to Harajuku but the train stopped at one station (Nippori?) and announced a 40 minute delay. So our intrepid tour leader had to scramble to find an alternative route.

This got complicated by wandering through a local festival in Nippori that featured dancers in a circle with taiko drummers rotating through to keep a continuous beat going. We eventually made it after various hijinks, dodges, and detours, but later than expected.

I decided to walk through the main street of Harajuku before heading back to the hotel. We saw the torii gate leading to the Meiji Jingu, but apparently it’s a 1-2 KM walk from there to the shrine, which I didn’t quite feel up for.

Although I took a walk through this… Slowly.

The loop line was running when I got back to the Harajuku station, so the return trip to the hotel was straightforward. Currently doing washing, and heading out for dinner with the tour leader later.

For dinner we went to Akihabara just to get a quick glance at the place, and eat on the 8th floor of the gigantic Yodebashi Akiba store. I had quite a nice meal of a Kyoto style beef cutlet, and then a banana chocolate crepe while walking home after the brief train ride from Akihabara. And now waiting to see if the 2nd lot of 30 minutes in the dryer will be enough before packing for the first stop out of Tokyo.

Photos

The Google Photos Album should now have everything. Well, apart from a couple of glitches that I’m hoping won’t recur.