Saturday, January 05, 2008

Japan: Day five

"A motorist passes Scai the Bathhouse located in the traditional downtown Yanaka district south of Nippori, Japan, Saturday, Jan.5, 2008."

I bought the best traveling tool Saturday morning for 100 yen. A compass.

Knowing I would be again walking around for seven hours or more, I thought a simple such a compass would help my navigation in case I decided to get totally lost. It paid off, too.

The subway in Tokyo is very difficult. It's all in Japanese, until you get on, and I don't have an English map. So I've decided to avoid it altogether. Also, with plans of traveling back to Japan by the end of the year for a longer stay, I've also decided to stay on the JR Yamanote line. Basically it's a huge circle with about 30 stops in Tokyo.

This limits me from seeing other parts of Japan, but I've been fortunate to have guides take me out of Tokyo.

Nonetheless, I've seen most, if not all, of the main train stops in Tokyo, so the past two days I've been getting off at the smaller towns and just walking.

Saturday I went to Nippori and Ikebukuro. To be perfectly honest I loved Nippori more than the more crowded areas. There was not many people or cars.

I didn't have a map of Nirppori, so I took the south exit and just walked. I found so many temples and shrines, and have no clue which ones. I walked in places I felt I probably shouldn't, and walked by nothing twice.

Other than shrines and temples, I got a glimpse in a area with a smaller town vibe. Many times I was stared at as if they never saw an American before.

On my way back to the station, I decided to make another detour. I heard some loud noise of shuffling people. It seemed to me as if was some sort of street festival. It gave me a chance to grab a quick snack, too. I am not sure what I ate, but for 200 yen it was really good.

After eating, I became extremely hungry. So I hoped on the JR to Ikebukuro with a goal of finding a tempura restaurant.

Without much trouble, I found one. And without much trouble, I ordered something. I wasn't sure what it was going to be, but it turned out to be the best lunch I've ever had.

Basically it was shrimp, two vegetables, white fish and scallop tempura over a rice bowl. The woman next to me was impressed with my chopstick skills and gave me a thumbs up. She probably thought that if I couldn't order, I couldn't eat. She was wrong. It also came with miso soup. I must say, I was never a fan of miso soup in the United States, but it's insanely good here. It's not just water and onion like home.

After eating, I roamed Ikebukuro some more. I found another eight floor camera shop. My compass failed me in there as I again got lost for 10 minutes trying to find the deguchi or exit.

Becoming tired, I decided to come back to the hotel and rest before searching for dinner. But as I made my way back I noticed a beautiful sunset. I dashed for the Tokyo Metropolitan Government building with hopes of getting a nice city scape photo with the sunset. I took a different route and over shot the buildind by five blocks. The sun was setting fast, so I started running. Yeah, you probably know what happen next. It was closed. So much for that.

Well, another successful, fun and adventurous day in Japan. My plans will be the same tomorrow as I will just roam more small towns of Tokyo.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just discovered your blog today and have enjoyed your posts about your time in Japan. I'm a US Air Force officer living on the western edge of Tokyo at Yokota Air Base in Fussa. I like the few photos you've posted of your trip on your flickr site. I am an amateur photographer but still have a way to go to get to the level I can see you are at. Enjoy the rest of your trip.

Saturday, January 05, 2008 9:36:00 AM  

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