First full day in tokyo

Wake at 455 am. Slept on and off. Some fucking young guys talking in German most of the night. I feel less bad creeping out of bed making noise and going out for a shower. It’s not yet six in the morning.  Feels bright and great. Better than in bed. Hot sweaty little box I slept in. So damn hot.

Decide to visit asakusa shrine today. Get out before it gets busy. Poured rain earlier, dripping now. I overdress. Discover camera is wet. Humidity gotinaide, needs to dry out. It can do that on the walk.  I threaten to take photos with my cell phone or tablet, it better dry.

It does. I think.  Screen too small to tell. Guess we’ll see. Stop at another 711. Play some Onigiri roulette. Can’t read the labels, take a few and hope for no fish.  One has salmon. Damn.

Arrive at shrine. 20 min walk. Streets look different. Definitely not north America.  So many bicycles.

Shrine is gorgeous. Old temples,  pagoda, gardens,  statues and inaxriptions. Weird fish in the pond. Take many photos. Not the only tourist here. Many Japanese also taking photos. Gang of young girls posing by a buddha. Her shirt has a band on it. She gives her friend with the camera the peace sign. Everyone gives the peace sign.

Many people pass by and pray that shrine on way to work. No camera allowed inside. Very decorated. Very nice. Serene.

Wander into nearby market. Buy tacky gifts.

Wander streets. Find a store called Don Quixote discount market. I buy too much trash including big bag of rice cakes. Gonna be good eating.

Why is beer so cheap here.  Notice wine and alcohol are even cheaper. 5 bucks for a little of wine. Ten dollars for a 20 of vodka. Don’t give in to temptation. Not here long enough. Buy tacky looking six pack of beer instead

Back at hotel. Some people still sleeping in the room. It’s past 10. Probably the young germans, tired from a night of talking. I unpack my purchases and change into shorts. So damn hot and humid. Like a wet unpleasant towel outside. Rain comes back in force. I just beat it. Hope it clears up. Want to go to chiyoda for imperial palace.

It does. I’m out like a flash after changing into lighter clothes. Ditch the shirt and pants, going for t shirt and shorts.  I bring an umbrella and raincoat and they prove handy right out the door. It rains on and off all the way to chiyoda.

I reach tokyo station. I finally see the crowds this city is known for. Glad I took train not the metro. Was still packed. This station is a total mess of people filing into powerful lines moving in directions along some sort of invisible tracks that only people living here can see. I’m in the way. A lot.

I notice that most men wear dark pants and white button up shirts. Not much fashion going on in those cubicles. Also notice I’m the only man with a beard. And blue eyes.

Station is too big to explore. Don’t want to pull a repeat of the airport. I reach surface and that familiar wet rag greets me. I missed you too humidity.

The palace is a few blocks away. Time to walk. I find it amazing how much downtown looks like an American city, Boston in particular. Don’t even know what it is. Something about the way the streets and buildings look. Big glass suckers with red walla, cobblestone paths, lots of shade and green. And train tracks everywhere.

Walking past open storefronts here is different. Lots of luxury retailers. Air conditioning blasts the sidewalk. The doors are open. No one cares.

I see the imperial palace. Sort of. I see the moats and moss covered stone walls that separate one city from the next. I round a corner and the walls are gone, replaced by a park. Further ahead is a highway but on the other side I see wide empty space leading up to the imperial city proper.

Lots of gravel.  Reminds me of the entrance to a water park. Wonder in where the tour buses are. Lots of people walking around the edges, many umbrellas. Several wheelchairs too, remarkably. It’s still wet gravel underfoot.

More walls and moats. Bridges too but blocked off. Looks like a lot of the place is under repairs. Can’t get too close but got some good shots of the exterior.

Wander around for a while.  Almost got lost. Doors closed, bridges missing. Head back, found a way in.

The gardens are open, rest is closed. Rain comes and goes like it’s playing tag with us. Wind is crazy. Rain flies horizontally then stops. Raining sideways. Where did it come from? Not up, that’s for damn sure.

Gardens quite lovely.  Stone castle walls quite intimidating. How did people ever think they could invade a place like this? Good view of Tokyo from the battlements.

I wander some streets but don’t go too far. Lots of joggers around the imperial palace. Streets signs even point out good jogging etiquette (don’t hog sidewalk, only run counter clockwise around the imperial city).

On way back to hostel someone turned on the faucet. Rain came down out from nothing. One moment it’s humid and calm then boom full on storm.  Five minutes later we’re back to normal.

I sit on couch and type up today’s notes from all the bits and pieces I used to not them down (phone notes, memos in my tablet, text messages unsent to myself). Thinking about going back out, maybe to shibuya.