3 days to cover!

Trip Start Jun 09, 2009
Trip End Jul 05, 2009

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Flag of Japan  , Kanto,
Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Sunday we had planned on going back to Asakusa, as we knew the crowds would be more impressive and there would be side stands selling ice cream and such.  But, first we had to get our house in order (so to speak). We had laundry to do and also had to clean up the room a bit.

We woke up a little late that day, but still wanted to try and get to the Yahoo! cafe so we could upload the hilarity of Akihabara from the day before. As well as make sure everybody knew we weren't stranded or whatever. After writing half of an entry and it being around noon we decided we'd been there long enough and cut our entry short for the time being.

Our day of discovery began as we head east of our hotel in search of a laundromat. The hotel provides a laundry service, but seeing as how neither of us are Scrooge McDuck we cannot afford ¥500 per shirt. So I had asked the front desk where to discover a coin based laundry a few days earlier.  After insisting that I was not interested in the hotel version of laundry robbery they reluctantly gave me a map to a "coin laundry".  So we followed our map, a travel story ensued worthy of the Odyssey, Lord of the Rings, or Tommy Boy. But such a tale shall would be TOO INTERESTING to tell, the reader's head might explode from the extreme level of interest (in-case my sarcasm isn't thick enough, it was actually quite uneventful and easy).  After crossing the train tracks and making one wrong turn we reached the laundry station.  Realizing we didn't have the coin money necessary to run two washers and also buy the detergent we purchased some drinks from the nearby vending machine.  Upon Kat's suggestion I tried some creamy looking drink with some cube pictures on the front.  I later found out the the cubes were actually in the drink and me being fickle about not having to chew my drinks had the first poor choice regarding vending machines that I've had here.  So, after waiting a bit for the laundry to wash we decided we'd read a bit to pass the time. I volunteered to go get a couple books from the hotel. The hotel was probably at least 10 minutes away one way.  I was gone nearly a half an hour being disgusted with my cube drink all the way while walking in the rain.  Once reaching the room I grabbed a couple books, left the cube drink and head back.  Realizing after my departure from the room that I had nothing to hold the books with along with my umbrella, I kept the books inside my hoody. With my mind being as strange as it is I had a daydream that people would think I was trying to blow up the train with this mysterious huge pouch in my hoody as I passed the tracks, and not knowing the language I wouldn't be able to explain they were books so when I try to show the cops this I get shot.  When I returned to Kat I found our her mind had wandered to hoping I had not been hit by a car, as she kept watch of the road with no sign of my umbrella appearing. This along with her worry that one of the gas dryers would blow up and kill her.... were a strange couple.

The laundry took way too long, and it was close to 4pm when we got back to the room.  Asakusa's shops start closing around this time and our day was shot. This was especially upsetting since so many interesting things are always happening in Tokyo on Sunday, we can't figure out why but nearly every single district is the most interesting on that day. I have a theory it might have something to do with the school schedules (as cram schools are where it's at here), but that's just a theory. So we stayed in and decided we'd rent a movie, to our sup rise when we ordered a movie we were able to watch as many as we wanted so we actually watched two films. We watched "Blindness" which was an offensive film for the blind community and we both could see why. We also watched "Get Smart" which was fun for what it was. That was Sunday.

Monday, I made a quick call to my parents in the morning to wish my father happy father's day, as well as my mother for her birthday a little bit before.  It was good to hear that so many people have taken an interest in our blog!

We actually went back to Asakusa that day, and wanted to get some things for people back home while we were there.  We still had fun and explored the area more extensively however.  Unfortunately we didn't get a lot of pics while we were there, largely because we thought it would be redundant from the previous entry in the same area.  While we were there, we ran into a much larger population of Americans then what we had come across, and oh boy were they the stereotypical Americans.  Fat, loud, and obnoxious. We could hear one round young lady proclaim to the district that she wanted a bowl from across the street, while her friends nodded their approval while wearing giant gimmick hats. Luckily they were all wearing the same colored shirt (possibly a school related thing, or wacky family reunion?) so we would not be confused with being among them.

 It was raining, and the downpour was gradually getting heavier (despite the daily for cast simply saying cloudy) so we had to buy an umbrella from a local store since we had left ours at home. I know they have spring operated umbrellas in the states, but for some reason I was completely in love with the "WOOSH"  that accompanied it when we opened it. So much so that when we got back later that night I consistently kept opening it while saying "oh no it's raining won't somebody help" followed by "WOOSH" in unison with me making the sound "SHAA."  We were exploring shop after shop, and getting more and more disoriented as we did so.  Eventually having very little idea how to get back to the main road with Sensu-ji temple.  But, we discovered another road that seems to accompany many of the districts. The arcade road, with pachinko machines and claw machines is something we've become pretty accustomed to. Although, we always like going in anyway. Kat has somewhat of a gambling problem (not a bad one) regarding the claw machines, she is simply determined to win a large prize from one.  I (being the nerd I am) simply can't pass up exploring an arcade area when I see one as well, I wish we still had arcades in the States I miss 'em, and Japan has left me with the impression they can still be fun even with widespread counsel ownership. One of the claw machines contained some more bread to win. But we finally discovered that it wasn't real bread to win through clawing (pun?) but was, instead, plushy huggable bread of the fake variety. We postulated as to why anybody would want to win fake bread from a claw machine when the one next to it offered free plushy kittens. We have witnessed people desperately attempting to win this fake bread as well. It was accompanied by a picture of a cartoon man hugging a huge loaf of bread and crying tears of joy. This just confused us more.

Kat and I bought some things, and the really nice thing is that when you buy something in Japan they always offer gift wrapping for free, which is nice.  One man took this hospitality another step and gave us some free postcards with famous hand printed Japanese art on them, which we both thought was extremely nice.

Unfortunately I can't divulge too much of what we did or we would ruin the surprise for some of the things we're getting people so I'll just leave it at that for now on exactly what we did and where we went in Asakusa since most of the shops we visited were revolving around thinking of getting people things.

On Tuesday we visited the Imperial gardens for the first time. Although I would say there were a few firsts. This was the first time we've had real trouble when dealing with the subways, and this was the first really hot day we've had.

When heading to the Imperial palace we couldn't figure out a good way of getting there. The tour book had us dropping off at a particular station that was rather out of the way.  With at least one transfer. After much deliberation on exactly how to get to the station we thought that perhaps the JR would have been better, but since we were already at the subway station we thought we'd try it out. Once reaching the first transfer and after paying the full price for the entire exchange the station decided we had payed and refused to accept our tickets, resulting in us having to pay another fee for the transfer we'd already payed for... Kat was not pleased.

Once finally getting towards the station we had very little idea of exactly where we were even after looking at a nearby map. This was our first experience of not knowing where the station let us out.  On top of that it was extremely hot out. The hottest its been since we've gotten here for sure, and it was difficult to just stand in the sun and try and get our bearings.  This was compiled with us not knowing exactly where we wanted to go first.  So, we decided we'd head for the Hanzoman gate since that's a really famous landmark.  On the way however, we ran into a park and I insisted that we go in.  Luckily enough the park was the Eastern Gardens of the Imperial palace and the reason we couldn't go on Friday of last week.  It was a pretty garden, and free for entry, a fact we did not know until we actually approached the guard after standing in front of him for a good five minutes trying to figure out the price. 

After entering the gardens we didn't know exactly where to go, there was a trail with an open road with a sign reading like "visitors to the eastern gardens may not visit." It was actually more confusing then that, but I've already forgotten what it said, it basically said we were both allowed to enter and not allowed to enter. Being confused by the poor English and just assuming they meant we couldn't enter the trail at some time when it was closed off we went down it for a bit. We were quickly escorted back by a police officer. One would wonder why it wasn't entirely closed off, and how often that officer has to push confused westerners back to the main trail.

The gardens were pretty as I said, and had a few points of interest.  One fun thing is that there were large walls all throughout the garden as it was the place of the former palace I believe. There was also the ruins of a guard tower, which was impressive even in ruin form.  These ruins were nearby a music hall which Kat became obsessed with taking pictures of.  While traveling the slopes we noticed a large plain which just begged to be played in. But wanting to be respectful along with the heat I restrained myself. 

Upon exploring some back trails we discovered a really cool area with low water levels and lily pads, and accompanying small streams and a waterfall. The waterfall I kept trying to capture on film but it just didn't seem to pan out very well.  I also spent a couple minutes trying to take a picture of a dragonfly, but all the images came out really blurry. There was a trail to the top of the waterfall and Kat preceded to insist that I "strike a pose" whilst on top. I only mildly obliged.

We only had a bit longer before the park closed so we head back up the trail closer to the entrance. Here we got a drink and sat by the field and watched the crows (there is a crow "problem" in Tokyo).  After that we visited the former guard tower mentioned previously, where Kat once again insisted I do her virtual bidding, this time in the form of a cartwheel. I did not oblige at all this time.

After alarms sounded we left the park before the Po-Po made themselves known. 

After leaving the park we had a much better idea where we were. So we decided we'd head towards the Imperial palace (home of the god king) before it closed.  I was surprised how much security surrounded the palace of somebody who has no official power in the government anymore.  The palace is surrounded by a moat with guard towers all around, each keeping a close eye on us as we walked by.  It just seems strange since I think you can just walk right up to the building that houses Parliament. I suppose it's likely just as confusing in Britain when regarding the Queen's baffling protection. Well, once we met up with the actual entrance to the palace we discovered that it was closed for the day. Which annoyed us a little since nothing else was nearby.  That was okay though, the gardens took longer then the entry makes it seem so it was in the latter parts of the day, and the heat had taken its toll. So, we headed for the closest subway station.

This station was even more confusing then the last, and we spent a good while just trying to figure out HOW to get back to the hotel.  After realizing we'd need to switch lines at least 3 times, we bit the bullet and decided we'd take it one station at a time. Paying the minimum cost to the next transfer station we went underground. Luckily when we walking we discovered that the current station was also attached to another one that had the Ginza line on it. So it would only require 1 transfer at Shimbashi station to get home, and we would likely save some money.  So, we walked in the direction we were instructed by the Ginza line signs. What we didn't realize is that the walk would take a good 20 minutes of underground Labyrinth running. Kat's legs were really starting to hurt, so it was good we didn't spend any longer in the Imperial gardens or at the palace itself. We had already had a day slated for revisiting the palace so it was no great loss. We will see what this area has to offer more in depth on another day!

That's three days worth of stuff, we accomplished a lot, but due to the nature of what was done we didn't have a lot to say blog wise.

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bigbadbuckster on

Good call
Avoiding the Po-Po is always a good decision. Probably even moreso in a foreign country!

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