Today (Friday) is a new day and with it comes the sun! Although yesterday was warm (23 C) and Very humid, it was also very cloudy and threatened rain all day. It actually did pour quite heavily before we got up, but we were fortunate for all the time we were out and about that it didn’t rain any more. We did take umbrellas just in case, but they ended up being more of a nuisance than a necessity. Carrying them was just…cumbersome.
We began yesterday with a traditional Japanese breakfast. Not like anything we have had before in the way of a day-starter. If you look at the pictures on the left, the Breakfast Main is the entire Bento box with a smaller box inside it and a bowl to the top right barely visible.
Begin with the rice at the bottom left and go clockwise around the box. Rice, Steamed Fish Paste, SPA Boiled Egg, Salad, Miso Dressing (for the salad), Miso Soup, Japanese Style Omelet with Fish. The barely visible bowl top right had Simmered Chicken and Vegetables.
The little box contained (starting in the bottom left corner, again clockwise), Seasoned Cod Roe, Seasoning for Rice, Sesame Tofu, Boiled Vegetables, Konbutukudani (seasoned Kelp) and Japanese Pickles.
How’s THAT for a completely different way to begin your day?
Now to explore the sights. We knew we were fairly close to the Shinjuku train station so walking off breakfast seemed a good idea. As it turns out, the station was probably no more than a 10 minute walk from our hotel but, due to ever-present distractions, it took somewhat longer.
There are over 100,000 restaurants/eateries in Tokyo which becomes easy to believe as you wander around. From our hotel to the station it seemed that as we passed one, another was right beside it in an almost never-ending parade of stomach temptations. Small, large, fancy, hole-in-the-wall and everything that could possibly be in-between, they are all there inviting you with smells and unpronounceable names. If you’re a foodie, this is a city you cannot pass up.
Architecture is another eye-catcher. Everything goes up in this city and given the limited amount of land available, it is no wonder. To be sure there are numerous tall buildings that are typical in stature, square or rectangular, and nothing truly noteworthy. But there are also many that just make you go Wow! A geodesic type dome building over here, a curved building over there, your eyes can’t be glued to your smartphone as you would miss all the impressive spectacles that surround you.
Just before entering the train station we find a camera shop (which could be a Very dangerous place to let my wife inside). I need a new camera strap and this 7 story devoted photographer’s paradise fills my requirement. Onward across the street to enter another world entirely.
The subway here is similar to other, well managed and thought-out facilities we have encountered in other major cities around the world. However, one substantial difference is the city underground. Once you have descended to the first level, you become aware that this is simply a hub that is a highway for foot traffic. In every direction there are pointers telling you how to get to several connection points and how far, in meters, they are. Most are not close and could easily take you 15 – 30 minutes to finally get to where your train will stop. But getting there (which will be on levels beneath your current level when you arrive) is a continuation of the non-stop flow of business at street level. Again, shops and eateries are everywhere. And all contain people stopping for everything. It feels as if there are no fewer people below ground than above.
(to be continued)