Veberöd Chronicles

(Very) sporadic insights into the life of a family in a small Southern Swedish town

Friday, August 22, 2008

First day in Tokyo

We slept pretty badly on the flight due to Marit's restlessness. The plane arrived in Tokyo at about 7am and we easily found the Keisei Skyliner train to Ueno, but for a reason we didn't immediately understand the lady gave us a ticket for the 9.26 train. We went down to the platform and the guy in charge down there looked at our tickets, tutted and bundled us onto the 7.56 train. It turned out that this was a special rush hour train that you needed a supplement for, and we were prepared to play the dumb tourist, but no-one checked the tickets so it wasn't necessary. With the quantity of luggage we had, transfer to the Ginza Metro line at Ueno wasn't that easy, but we managed. Luckily our hotel, the New Gyominzo, was right next to the Metro exit at Asakusa. We couldn't check in until 2pm but the elderly gentlemen at the reception let us have some kind of small private dining room to change out of our sweaty Melbourne winter clothes into something more appropriate for temperatures 20°C higher!

We left our bags at the hotel and went out to explore the Kamarimanon Temple. For me this was the chance to relive memories from 1997, when I stayed here after the ICBIC conference in Yokohama, but Marjolein was also enchanted, especially by the Edo-era stalls lining several hundred metres from the Kamarimanon Gate to the main shrine. We had lunch at a "sushi-boat" restaurant. Walking down the street immediately afterwards we had the quite bizarre experience of running into Michael Gajhede and Ole Kristensen, well-known faces from Copenhagen University. Of course it was clear that they were in Tokyo for a couple of days before the IUCr meeting in Osaka, but we could explain to them that we were just on holiday! Unfortunately they were being ushered into a restaurant by the waiter, so we didn't have much time to talk, and we were too tired to think of making plans to meet up later on.

Our Japanese-style room on the 8th floor was ** tatami mats in size and even came equipped with a kimono each:


As usual the bathroom seemed to have been fashioned from a single piece of plastic. We had our first experience of an automatic Japanese toilet seat, which flushes water as soon as you sit down on it, presumably to avoid potentially embarrassing noises emanating from the bathroom. Funnily enough I didn't see a single one of these in 1997...

After a short rest we walked to Ueno Park where we were met by a sea of Lotus. Quite a different park! Saskia wanted to take a trip in the pedal boats on the lake but it was a bit too late and it coud wait for one more day. We tried to find a restaurant in the busy streets south of Ueno Station and Saskia got into a flap because she wanted to have sushi a second time. Finally we settled on a Chinese restaurant and ate seafood dishes with lots of scallops - delicious.

Back at the hotel the view from the window was of the Asakusa Metro station and the Matsuya department store:


We slept like logs as we were so tired from the night before.

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