Saturday, 24 March 2018

Autumn Aurora in Japan - Day 5

Tokyo                                                                                          Japan

Saturday 8th October 2016

I woke up from a pleasant night’s sleep quite early too due to the fact Tomoko’s cat was purring and jumping on top of me. I was quite satisfied too once I got ready and not feeling any unpleasant light headed feeling due to jet lag. We headed down for breakfast and at the table was a heavenly view of different breads and croissant. As we were eating we became curious about a peculiar screen on the table and with numerous attempts, we switched it on revealing it to be a small TV. We flicked through the channels and came across an anime cartoon. It was mind blowing, edge of your seat card battles with no clue what they were saying. We also made plans of visiting a place called Kawasaki and as we looked outside, we realised it was going to be a bad day of weather. We grabbed our essentials as well as waterproofs and left the house with umbrellas as the rain came down harder.

We made a quick trip to ‘Summit’ to grab snacks for the day and then arrived at the wet station of Nishi Kunitachi. Once again, we had boarded a very quiet train for the long trip to Kawasaki. What was great was that we didn’t have to transfer to other trains so we could sit and relax watching the landscape and buildings pass by at such speed. Along the way, there were sections of forest hills close by to us with a tranquil misty look due to the bad weather. Time went on with countless station stops and then finally it was the end of the line for us as we had arrived in Kawasaki. Knowing the routine by now it was all system go once we left the train. Everyone was crossing paths and somehow nobody would bump into each other. We managed to squeeze out and find some space to ourselves already figuring out where to go next. A huge map stood right in front of us and what it showed was a huge shopping centre next to us. To the opposite way we saw a built up area with temples and shrines throughout. We decided to head to the shopping centre first and we walked straight into what looked like an arena with 2 tier walkways surrounding us; it felt like we were part of a shopping battle or something.

We eventually walked to the opposite side back indoors immediately welcomed by countless shops with brand names known and unknown to us. We made our way through and up to the next tier and as we set foot on the walkway area, there was quite a wonderful view of skyscrapers in the distance. What was great was that there were 2 specific buildings miles apart and at the point we were standing at, it merged into the shape of what looked like a huge ship when lined up. We eventually decided to leave the shopping area as we were men and men don’t like shopping so we headed the opposite way. Along the way, we caught sight of a huge children’s play area with an arcade too. I wanted to dive in and play on the games however, we continued like the grown-ups we were.

We headed back along the opposite way out of the train station and straight onto a brick laden pathway. We soon came upon a type of sheltered shopping area full of bright, vibrant and flashy Japanese advertisements. There was also a very beautiful designed glass ceiling too, which also brightened the area up even though the rain became torrential at this point. We plucked up the courage and headed back out into the downpour on our search for temples and shrines. We soon came across one soon after but no luck for us trying to get in to it. We continued walking with the rain surprisingly becoming worse. We had to stop for a moment to cover our bags from the rain and then we noticed the huge amount of spray coming from the fast vehicles driving along in the rain. We were praising the fact we brought umbrellas and pleased it wasn’t a cold day but still quite warm.

We took a wander around the streets with no luck finding other temples and shrines so we decided to head back towards the train station and look for somewhere to eat. We seemed to have wandered around for a long while in the shopping centre looking for food until we found somewhere worth trying which was called ‘The Glass Dance’. We walked into a rustic restaurant with very large wooden barrels overtaking the whole room from the ceiling. The place looked quite quiet too but we had to sit as though we were in a waiting room until we were soon called. We were both escorted to our table right in the front corner and we were both given a free glass of water. We soon picked out what we wanted to eat and we waited for someone to show up to get our order. 20 minutes went by and we were still waiting whilst everyone else was getting served when we didn’t. I was becoming quite irate at this point as was Craig who eventually stood up to get there attention not looking happy. We eventually got seen too and no sooner did we place our order did we get our food right in front of us. Despite the bad service, we really enjoyed the food that was placed in front of us.

We took our leave heading back to the opposite side of the train station and on the map, we noticed a few more temples and shrines along the route as well as a river; by this point the sun was out and shining bright. Time passed and then we came upon the first temple, which was closed in around the larger buildings surrounding it but it was very interesting to view especially the gravestones along the side. We eventually left making our way to the river tama with a good feeling we were on the right track. We walked up alongside a freeway bridge and then we were welcomed by the absolute beautiful huge river tama. There were skyscrapers to our left and a huge white bridge spanning the river far to the right of us. Because the sky was cleared of clouds, the whole area filled up with a pure colour of sky blue. We walked half way across the bridge looking out for the several cyclists passing us by and then we stopped to admire the views surrounding us.

A moment later after stopping, a speedboat was heading towards us with a skier on the back drifting along the water causing a lot of spray. Just before they went under the bridge, the skier acknowledged us, which was brilliant. We eventually made our way back towards central Kawasaki along another narrow brick pathway. However, we then realised we were walking through the seedy side of the area with clubs and women; it was the friendliest seediest place I had ever walked through. Halfway along Craig and I located a temple and then a larger shrine area with a lot more to show. We spent quite a while despite getting bit by flies. We eventually made our way back towards the train station through the outdoor sheltered shopping area to take our leave back for Nishi Kunitachi remembering the length of time taken to get back.

We were still overwhelmed with how busy the station was but we were growing accustom to it. We easily found our platform as at this point of the trip we had become train station Jedi. We took our seats straight away for the long journey ahead and relaxed swaying with the train along the tracks. Over time, the train began to fill up quite drastically and quite often, Craig and I were nodding off but had to focus on our stop. Speaking of which, we had made it back to the dark station of Nishi Kunitachi. Finally, we were off the train and heading to our favoured local shop for one of the large apples they had to offer. The staff must have loved us coming in as it was something new to them to see 2 idiot Geordies walking into the shop each day.

We finally returned back to Tomoko’s house and spent the next half an hour eating our huge apples and then headed down for our evening dinner; the apple was just the starter to us. A lovely spread of rice and raw salmon was made up for us along with macha green tea. All the while, we were all having a great conversation with Tomoko about anything and everything with laughter. We were praising her for all the hospitality she was providing as well as the comforts of home too. It was really late at this point and so we both headed up for a well deserved rest for tomorrows final full day in the Tokyo area.
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