Poagao's Journal

Absolutely Not Your Monkey

Aug 31 2014

Tokyo 2014, part 2

The sky was grey when I got up this morning and went down for breakfast at the hotel restaurant, where I had a hot dog and a salad while looking out at the people walking by. The hotel people said they could put me up on a higher floor in a room with a view, so I had to pack up and leave my luggage with them before heading out.

I headed to Ueno Park, where what I thought was a sewer outlet turned out to be water issuing from a well guarded by a huge crow. A light drizzle began as I observed a baseball game, causing the homeless fellows busy sleeping on adjacent benches to sit up. The park is full of cicadas and fresh air, which some of the visitors try to deal with by talking loudly and smoking.

I walked by the Filipino Fair and the art university, which has little glass rooms overlooking trees, presumably for art students to veg out in. The ground trembled every time a subway train ran underneath. At a school next to a shrine the sound of a concert band issued through the windows, and I wondered why they were practicing on a Sunday. Mothers and children on motorized bicycles zoomed around the streets of a temple-laden neighborhood.

I walked back to the park, resting a bit on a bench overlooking ducks and turtles, thinking it was nice to be here when it’s not cold for once. Lunch was at Subway. I’ve been trying to use what Japanese I have, with varied success. I am really, really not used to speaking it.

After lunch I headed south, stopping at a temple of a literary bent, where I took a family photo for some people. Back on the main road, I noted that one of the distinctive smells of Tokyo is a slight hint of diesel exhaust, probably from the subway. That and certain cooking smells.

I stopped at the Kanda Shrine, where statues of horses licking their feet adorn the entrance, and again at the Confucian Shrine, which was rather delapidated. An old man with a mask painted the scene in front…at least I think it was the scene in front. It wasn’t very much like the scene in front, to be honest.

A group of foreigners I passed back on the street were discussing what to do next. “I will talk to the driver,” their guide was saying. I couldn’t help but think to myself, happily, “I don’t have a driver! Ha!”

Just down the street was one of my favorite bits of Tokyo, namely the Shohei Bridge, where several subway lines criss-cross above and below, and a police boat sped by underneath just as I approached. A man was taking pictures on the bridge with the huge, ungainly Sigma Quattro.

I walked over to Akihabara, where the entire street had been closed to traffic. It was rather bizarre. I asked a policeman what time it started and stopped, and he said 1 to 6, and only on Sundays, before he dashed off to blow his whistle at some kids riding their bikes on the sidewalk.

I was really enjoying myself, walking on my own all around the area, stopping to write, or doubling back, or dashing over to take a shot of this or that. It was immensely satisfying, and the weather cooperated, the clouds dispersing, a brilliant afternoon sun illuminating the large white buildings.

I eventually made my way back to the hotel, where they gave me a room on the 11th floor. Sure, it’s next to the elevators, as well as the stairwell of the building next door, but at least it has a view of the outside. I took a shower and then met my friend Louis in the lobby. We headed out for dinner, and after a long walk that got me thoroughly lost, we ate at a Korean barbeque place while discussing politics and photography.

And now I’m back here, listening to the elevators. Fortunately, my apartment bedroom is next to the elevators as well, so it doesn’t particularly bother me.

posted by Poagao at 10:16 pm  

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