Saturday, 16 August 2014

A colourful day in Tokyo at Asakusa and Chiyoda

There is a three hour time difference between Auckland and Tokyo, and despite getting to bet after 22:00 yesterday evening I still woke at 04:00, I guess my body clock thought it was a bit later. No problem though, I updated the blog and checked my emails and such like before Victoria awoke a couple of hours later, see it may surprise some, but can be (fairly) quiet.

By 0745 we were both raring to go and hit a bit of a snag, none of the local cafes opened until 08:00, some even 09:00. We eventually setteld on the Segafredo, one coffee, one cappuchino, one croissant and one pain au chocolate for the princely sum of ¥960 - that is about £5.50.

We then hopped on the monorail at Diaba station and a few minutes later were across the bay at Shinbashi station. We easily found the Asakusa underground line for the 15 minute trip to Asakusa. The public transport here is very inexpensive, very efficient, and nicely air-conditioned. Nice as the outside temperatures today were about 34C and very humid.

Disembarking at Asakusa we followed some side-streets and arrived at the Kaminarimon Gate, Victoria spent 200¥ on drawing a couple of fortunes and tying them to the rails, unfortunately both were bad luck - well she is stuck with me. She then spent another ¥100 on some insense. Money to burn that one.

We then entered the impressive Senso-ji temple and took quite a few photos before wandering out around the gardens looking at the shrines and enormous Koi Carp.

The main drag up to the Kaminarimon Gate is called the Nanamise Dori and is a huge  street market with loads of stalls, very reminiscent of Camden. Victoria purchased some new chop-sticks and some very pretty sweets and we both stopped for an ice-cream. I hade an apple flavoured while Victoria had green tea flavoured. Mine was lovely, Victoria liked hers but I think it tasted terrible, I have never really got green tea.

We then purchased some omigiri to take back for our work colleagues before diving down more side streets enjoying the sights and sounds.

Regarding the sounds, one thing that you notice is that any time you get near a tree you hear the circadas, these can be an ear splitting 120db, some of them sound like they have swallowed a swazzle!

While walking we bought lots of bottle of mineral water, 500ml is only ¥110 from the vending machines, in these temeratures we got through loads.

Thirtsy, we stopped at a McDonalds, Victoria had a lime flavoured ice-cream float, very nice!

All the wandering around meant that we had been in Asakua a good three hours so we headed back to the station, not before stopping in the Clover Cafe where they do fantastic character drawings in the foam of their Lattes.

At Shinbashi station we picked up a few pastries at the bakery and decided to do some exploring. Checking the map we decided to first walk to the Hibiya Koen park and here we shared our pastry.

After enjoying the sights of the park, the circadas must have been getting near the 120db mark so any other sounds were a bit muted, we arrived at the Hibiya Moat and entered the Chiyoda-Ku via the castle gates and then skirted the inner moat until we came to the entrance of the Imperial Palace.

The Imperial Palace is only open to the public seven days per year in late December, so we took some photos and saw the guards drilling before walking back through Hibiya Koen to Shinbashi where we caught the monorail back to Diaba and crashed out in the hotel, it was only 15:00 but we had had a pretty big adventure already.

As I sit writing in the hotel room the rain has started hammering it down outside. Hopefully it will be less humid later.

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