But where was the Park? There were zillions of people, lots of noise from overhead trains, and masses of cement walks, pilings, walls, and buildings. We wandered around and found an open-air market under the elevated train tracks. It was crowded, noisy, and had lots of unfamiliar smells. We ducked into a department store, which had shoes that called out to Camilla. But she is size Monster, and the shoes in Japan only go up to size 7, apparently. So, back out to the ferocious noise.
Speaking of ferocious noise, I invite you to return to this post after I upload the film Camilla made of the inside of a pachinko parlor. THAT is noise. Lights flash, attendants run around with baskets of ball-bearings, and there is an excited roar of music and general din. We poked our noses in for about a minute, and when we withdrew, the real world seemed dull and poorly lit.
The market had barkers, fish stands, acrylic furs, noodle shops, candy stores, keychain stores, and mystery zones. We had a lousy lunch of tempura, then plunged back in to the fray. The kimono stand caught our attention for a long time, but without Tokiko-san to make pronouncements, we felt unable to buy anything. Camilla bought a 200 yen ($2.50) kebab of four strawberries, and we headed for the park.
It is lovely. There are trees everywhere, and the landscaping is characteristically Japanese, with large rocks and water features here and there. Also for the first time we saw homeless people, quite a few of them, with cardboard beds and rags for clothing. They were fairly reserved, no panhandling and people ignored them. I wonder how they eat. There were street performers, including a mime who played a pretty good bagpipe.
We have become shrine aficionados. There is something really appealing in the architecture. Usually you have stairs leading up to the place, and a red gate with a straw rope hanging from it. Two stone dogs, dragons, or foxes stand at either side of the gate, and then the shrine itself can either be a simple country hut or, as they were at the park, a commercial operation with a brisk business in charms and prayer papers. Each has its own flavor, and we veer towards every one we find.
The second one we visited at the park was especially interesting. Maybe 30 red gates lined the stairs, don't know why. The shrine itself was in a grotto, with candles and ceramic foxes everywhere. A little creepy, a lot appealing.
We finally found the Tokyo National Museum an hour before closing time. We went to the building that is full of national treasures like old kimonos, scrolls with calligraphed sutras, samuri costumes, Chinese lacquer plates, etc. Then to the bookstore, of course.
It was dark so we trotted back to the subway and, after a few minutes, figured out which kind of ticket to buy. Got the tickets, got on the subway, got off the subway at the correct station, went out the wrong door. Where is everything? We wandered off in all directions until we found a familiar landmark, oriented, and headed back to the ryokan. Dinner from the 7-11; aloe yoghurt, pasta, and green tea ice cream. Mmm.
Finished off the day with a long political conversation with some New Zealanders. I love hostels!
Word of the day: ju: Confucian scholar, go in.