Friday 24 November 2017

This time five years ago...

...well, not quite, it was the 19th, but never mind. Courtesy of some air miles, I went on a short solo trip... to Tokyo. And kept a diary of it, that I have just rediscovered. Here's what I wrote then, exactly as I wrote it, unedited. It may be boring for you, I understand that, and I may have misspelt some Japanese names but it's nostalgia for me, so...

19th November 2012

Took Virgin Atlantic flight VS900 from Heathrow to Tokyo Narita airport. Arrived on the morning of the 19th, local time, after an 11½ hour flight, lots of food and lots of in-flight movies. Narita was clean, quiet and efficient - hard to imagine getting through passport control so quickly in the UK! Took the Keisei Skyliner into the city - again, clean, quiet and efficient. Can you see a theme emerging here? Without doubt the cleanest train I've ever been on, it took me as far as Nippori station where I changed and got a JR line train the rest of the way to Shinjuku. From there, I walked down Meiji-Dori, past the Takashimaya Times Square shopping complex, to the Meiji-Jingu Shinto shrine. This is starkly beautiful, dedicated to a dead emperor and his wife, and set amongst tens of thousands of trees planted by the public to honour them after their deaths (early 20th C). There seemed to have been something going on, as lots of families were there with their daughters (primary school age) all dressed up in traditional costume. Had lunch there - beef curry noodles, very tasty though not much beef! Then walked back across town to find my hotel, the Ryokan Eishinkan, in a part of Shinjuku-ju called Sakarnachi ... and it was very hard to find. I'd probably still be looking now if I hadn't got lucky. After asking two traffic wardens (who couldn't speak English and had no idea where it was anyway) I asked a young mum out with her son in a pushchair. Luckily she'd been to England on her honeymoon, and spoke some English! She didn't know where the hotel was either but offered to ask some other people for me. After another local didn't know either I was starting to get worried ... but then we found a postman and he knew straight away!

The Eishinkan is basic but clean, quiet and (I think) safe. My room has bamboo matting on the floor and a paper + wood blind across the window. Oh, and the bed is a thin mattress on the floor. As I was unpacking (which didn't take long - hand luggage only), the lady who'd shown me around knocked on my door with a cup of green tea. Nice!

After a nap, I phoned ■■■■■■■■, then dragged my tired self out to explore the neighbourhood and buy myself some tea, which I ate back in the hotel whilst watching the Japanese weather channel and planning tomorrow's excursions. And now - an early night, I think!

In the grounds of the Meiji Jingu shrine

More later, if you can bear the excitement of it all...

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