Tokyo Prefecture, Japan
Weak with the lack of a bacon sandwich I almost gave in and had the European breakfast but one look at the vile collection of frankfurters (yes them again) and pastry I decided to skip food and headed for the boat to the Hama-Rikyu gardens. Just me, a European couple and three hundred Japanese school kids who thought the large sweaty giant was a source of great fun and excitement. After the bravest child sat next to me, others took turns and giggled nonstop. The gardens are beautiful and well worth a visit. They are the old hunting ground of a Shogun and even though not in bloom, apart from a field of Peonies, are classically Japanese. Very tranquil. I sat and composed a haiku.
God I’m hot
Rushing mountain streams
Make me think of Frappachino
OK, it’s not good but it’s how I felt. Queued with my school-chums for the vending machine. One ice cold water later and my temperature had dropped to the mid thirties. Lots of hellos and konnichi-wa from me and we parted company. I headed for the Tsukiji Fish Market. I really wouldn’t bother unless you feel like queuing at 4am for the tuna action. I stayed for 20 seconds. But by then I was delirious with heat stroke and found a Tulleys coffee bar. I swear I would have gone into McDonalds had it been open. I inhaled a frozen espresso swirl and sat feeling the sweat turn to water inside my shirt. Not a nice picture gentle reader but the neon sign on the nearby skyscraper said 38 degrees and while I don’t know what that means in real money, it’s ‘pant like a dog’ weather when you’re carrying a twenty pound camera bag.
Then walked to Ginza and saw a statue to a dog called Chirori who was rescued with her five puppies by a doctor and spent her life giving therapy to old people. Her life persuaded the Japanese government to reform animal welfare laws. What a country – you never cease to be pleasantly amazed by the Japanese.
Arrived in Ginza and went into all three department stores which all begin with M. Can’t recommend one above the rest because they are all identical. One of them had a Shinto shrine and golf driving range on the roof. Bought some clothes For Elly which if they fit will be a miracle. Here is the conversation
Me holding blouse “English medium?”
Shop assistant holding blouse to herself “My fit?”
Me “No, my wife is err….larger in the …..”
Shop assistant “Your wife big?” now holding a small circus tent
Me ” No it’s just she has larger……br…shoulders”
Shop assistant “this good?”
Me “yes, yes I’ll take it…anything please”
Jeans were even worse. So I gave up and bought a ceramic knife. Why do the Japanese produce the world most fantastic kitchen knives? They do really. Then off for some lunch. Found a place around the corner that was what I can only describe as jazz ryokan. Beautiful interior basement with Tatami mats – shoes off you worthless Gaijin. Japanese style seating, cold udon noodles and tempura plus Nina Simone. Meji Restoration meets Cole Porter. Fantastic. Started to drink iced green tea at a rate so fast that the waiter clearly thought I had rabies so slowed down but he was serving it in 3ml servings so who can blame me.
Metro back to the hotel to arrange the shipment of my case to Kyoto where I hope to be reunited with it in three days time. Fantastic system here in Japan, for £8 you can ship a heavy suitcase to your next hotel with (I hope) the certain knowledge that it will arrive at your next hotel. So I’ll be either praising Japan Rail to the skies or living in the same pair of pants for the next five days. At least I’ll get a seat to myself on the bullet train home.
Queues for the unagi restaurant so I went for sushi again and had a tuna sampler, basically a host of politically incorrect and endangered blue fin but delicious none the less. I’m also developing a real taste for Smelt and the hard to find Sardine sushi.