Kami Watch Over Me (Japan Day 31 – Tokyo)

Monday, Nov 21 2022 (Day 31)

Table of Contents

ට  Day 0 – Thursday, Oct 20 2022 to Friday Oct 21 2022 – Flight from Edmonton to Tokyo
ට  Day 1 – Saturday, Oct 22 2022 – Tokyo, Saitama, Ikebukuro
ට  Day 2 – Sunday, Oct 23 2022 – Autumn Reitaisai 9, Shinjuku
ට  Day 3 – Monday, Oct 24 2022 – Akihabara
ට  Day 4 – Tuesday, Oct 25 2022 – Hakone
ට  Day 5 – Wednesday, Oct 26 2022 – Kamakura, Enoshima Shrine
ට  Day 6 – Thursday, Oct 27 2022 – Hanno
ට  Day 7 – Friday, Oct 28 2022 – Shinkoiwa
ට  Day 8 – Saturday, Oct 29 2022 – Akihabara, Matsudo City
ට  Day 9 – Sunday, Oct 30 2022 – M3-50, Moto-Yawata
ට  Day 10 – Monday, Oct 31 2022 – Akasaka, Shimokitazawa, Shibuya Halloween
ට  Day 11 – Tuesday, Nov 01 2022 – Shinjuku, Sophia University
ට  Day 12 – Wednesday, Nov 02 2022Sophia University, Kabukichō
ට  Day 13 – Thursday, Nov 03 2022 – Shinjuku Loft
ට  Day 14 – Friday, Nov 04 2022 – Shinjuku, Hanazono/Asakusa Tori no Ichi, Sensōji
ට  Day 15 – Saturday, Nov 05 2022 – Nagano, Zenkōji
ට  Day 16 – Sunday, Nov 06 2022 – Ueda Sanada Matsuri, Ueda City, Sanada Shrine
ට  Day 17 – Monday, Nov 07 2022 – Zenkōji, Kyoto, Nakagyo Ward
ට  Day 18 – Tuesday, Nov 08 2022 – Otsu, Omi Jingu
ට  Day 19 – Wednesday, Nov 09 2022 – Fushimi Inari, Kashoji, Tofukuji, Shōrinji
ට  Day 20 – Thursday, Nov 10 2022 – Ohara, Sanzenin, Arashiyama
ට  Day 21 – Friday, Nov 11 2022 – Kiyomizu, Ryōzen Kannon, Yasaka Shrine
ට  Day 22 – Saturday, Nov 12 2022 – Heian Raku Ichi Market, Osaka, Juso
ට  Day 23 – Sunday, Nov 13 2022 – Sukunahikona Shrine, Namba
ට  Day 24 – Monday, Nov 14 2022 – Kobe (with Ran)
ට  Day 25 – Tuesday. Nov 15 2022 – Maibara, Toyosato, Nagoya
ට  Day 26 – Wednesday, Nov 16 2022 – Osu, Banshōji, Naka
ට  Day 27 – Thursday, Nov 17 2022 – Obara Shikizakura Festival, Rurikozanyakushi
ට  Day 28 – Friday, Nov 18 2022 – Okayama, Kurashiki
ට  Day 29 – Saturday, Nov 19 2022 – Kyoto (with Xuanjie), Autumn Okayama Momotaro Festival
ට  Day 30 – Sunday, Nov 20 2022 – Okayama, Sunrise Izumo
ට  Day 31 – Monday, Nov 21 2022 – Minowa, Enoshima Shrine, Ameyoko Market (You are here)

The morning after

This blog post starts right on the heels of the last one, as I set the separating line between Day 30 and Day 31 as the moment that I stepped off the train. So here’s a picture of the train, from the outside, circa 7:09 am at Tokyo Station.

Tokyo Station was really quiet in the morning, comparatively speaking.

My next hotel, a small hotel in Minowa about 10 minutes walk from the train station, had offered to let me drop off my bags early when I arrived in the morning, before check-in. I gladly took them up on the offer. Getting to them required a short ride on my old friend, the circular JR Yamanote Line at the middle of Tokyo’s interconnected train system, from Tokyo Station to Ueno Station (or Akihabara Station, or Okachimachi.. there were a lot of options), and then a transfer over to the Hibiya Line to Minowa Station. I picked Ueno Station and found a cute panda stamp for my troubles.

That Hibiya Line unfortunately wasn’t covered by the JR Pass, so it was 170 yen every time I took it. But I had to learn this line, and dumping my luggage down was good, so off I went.

It was still drizzling a bit but had more or less stopped now. The streets were soaked and glimmering though.

My hotel was located in a maze of small streets that crisscrossed each other in a diamond shape, but it wasn’t too difficult to find or walk to from the station.

I could not get in at first as the front door was locked, but when I messaged the property through the booking.com app, I was told that the side door was ajar and that I could get in that way and leave my luggage next to the front desk. It was always left ajar (kind of making the keycard access for the front door pointless) but protected by video camera, they said. The hotel was a small, family-owned “hotel”, with about three rooms or so per floor and five residential floors above the ground floor, which was reception. Mine was on the third floor. But it wasn’t ready yet as it was literally only 8:15 am, so I dumped my luggage as instructed, sent them a picture of my bags, and left back to the train station.

I had some unfinished business to take care of, so I went on a little bit of a journey while waiting for check-in. I took the Hibiya Line back from Minowa Station to Ueno Station, and found that the train was *very* crowded in the opposite direction. I would learn over the next couple days that the section of the Hibiya Line that I stayed at was very busy in the mornings going in the Ueno/Akihabara direction, and very busy in the other direction during the evenings. They even had female-only carriage cars in the mornings during rush hour.

At any rate, I fought my way back to Ueno Station, and prepared to take the JR Ueno-Tokyo Line south from there toward Fujisawa Station, a trip which would take about an hour or so. While waiting, this random stall on the train platform really tempted me:

A standing-only udon bar! My train came as I was hemming and hawing over it though, so I decided that this was a sign from the gods not to do it, and I passed on it.

I took the train to Fujisawa Station and then stepped out there. Nothing looked familiar at first, which was a bit strange since I had been here before, back on Day 5.

Things started to look familiar after a while though. I remembered this walkway rather clearly.

It was 9:57 am at that point, and there were a bunch of people queued up outside a shopping mall, waiting for that to open at 10:00 am.

I wasn’t here for that though. I walked past them to another scene that looked really familiar, the platform for the Enoshima Electric Railway.

Boarding the train, I marvelled at two things — one, how the two-car carriage seemed really familiar to me now after experiencing so many other types of train systems in Japan, and two, how nice it was that this local system allowed users to use IC/money cards instead of forcing people to pay in cash.

i contemplated taking the train all the way back to the beautiful station that I had been to in Kamakura on Day 5, but I was being buzzed by my hotel who told me that I would be able to check in as early as 11:00 am if I wanted to, and I really wanted to get to my hotel somewhat early, so I decided to forgo that side-quest. Instead, I took the train to Enoshima Station, got off there, and walked down the shopping street there toward Enoshima Island again. It was fairly quiet this early in the morning, just after 10 am.

Many stores were still closed or just starting to open. I was glad to see that some of the my old haunts (visited once) and nostalgic places I used to eat at (once) were still around and had not shut down yet (within the last month):

Ah, it brings me back to my past when I was a younger, less-seasoned traveller. 26 days ago, to be precise. It feels so long ago now?

Reaching the end of the street, I stepped out onto the crossway to Enoshima Island and begin to walk across that as well.

Unfortunately, Mt. Fuji was not playing nice today, which I had expected since it had been raining overnight and drizzling in the morning.

But that’s okay, I wasn’t here (just) to see her. I crossed into the island and went up the street, then climbed the stairs to Enoshima Shrine again.

And finally came face to face with my quest objective — the goshuin office here, one of the two temples that I had visited early on but had not had a book to inscribe my temple seals into yet. Actually, the ones they sold here looked pretty nice too, and I asked for permission to take pictures of both the books and the seals they had for sale.

I happily picked up my one normal tegaki no goshuin (i.e. hand-drawn one):

As well as a random stamp from a booth set up next to the goshuin booth.

I then left the area, retracing my steps and descending back down the 160 steps or so it took to climb up to the shrine. Fuji-san was still being a tsundere, and refusing to show her white cap.

As a result, there weren’t actually that many people around or taking photos, and I didn’t get to add to my collection of photographs of people taking photographs. I did run into a large group of tourists coming in the other direction while I was on the way out, so it was a good thing I had come as early as I did, I suppose.

Lunch and sleep

On the way back, I decided to take a slightly different route. I remembered that I had taken a night picture of a train station back on Day 5, whose entrance was basically a giant samurai head:

I hadn’t actually taken that train yet, and had no idea what it even connected to, so i went to give it a try. Here’s a day picture of Katase-Enoshima Station:

It turns out that this was a four-station branch off of a larger train line, the Odakyū Enoshima Line. From the map, it actually looked like it was just a four-stop line that barely anyone ever took since the Enoshima Electric Railway was nearby too, and I wondered about the job prospects of the inspectors that worked diligently along this little line.

To be fair to the station though, it did have some things going for it, like a vending machine that sold diapers.

I took this train to Fujisawa Station, where I planned to catch the same JR Ueno-Tokyo line that I had taken south an hour earlier, back north. This would save me 990 yen or so on the ticket, a sizable amount. I ran into a tiny catch here though, where the gate that I was leaving by to get to the other part of the station was only a connecting gate, but I actually needed to tap out my Suica IC card, which I had used for the train that I was just on, and then use my JR Pass to take this JR Ueno-Tokyo Line train back north. This gate I ended up at didn’t allow me to tap out my IC card though, only activate a transfer.

Thankfully, a station attendant manning that gate led me over to a ticket recharge machine of some sort, scanned his badge on it to activate additional functions on the machine, and then tapped out my IC card for me. That was interesting. Without any further incident, I made my way back north and alighted at Tokyo Station instead of Ueno Station this time, to test out an alternate route. This northbound train was slightly more crowded than the earlier southbound one and I didn’t manage to score a seat for some time to rest my weary bones.

Ameyoko Market

From Tokyo Station, my planned route was to take the “free” JR Yamanote Line to Okachimachi Station, and test a route there that involved walking from that station to a nearby private line variant of that station, Naka-Okachimachi, and then taking the Hibiya Line from there home. However, Okachimachi Station was also one end of the Ameyoko Market shopping street, and so instead of walking south to the nearby station, I instead found myself being magnetically pulled north by interesting sights and sounds into the market instead, wandering amidst colourful awnings and fresh fish and fruits and little shops packed to the brim with things I couldn’t read. There were also lots of yakitori-style eateries selling things like skewers and beer, and I even found a basement level wet market that I wandered through with glee.

I ultimately didn’t buy anything here, though I was planning to do groceries for dinner again during my stay at this hotel as long as they had a proper kitchenette. Instead, I spent some time walking through this market, ending up on the north end of the market several streets away, next to Ueno Station. Ueno Station also connected to both Naka-Okachimachi and Minowa Station on the Hibiya Line, and was the station I had originally stopped by on the way to my hotel from the Sunrise Izumo train anyway, so I knew how to get back to the hotel from here just fine.

There were several loud African guys calling out to touristy-looking passersby and trying to get them to come have a drink with them somewhere or something, similar to what the one person tried to do to me after my Shinjuku Loft concert event on Day 13. I steered well clear of those charlatans this time

Lunch

Despite the food options here, I mentally declared the entire of Ameyoko Market a tourist trap (like Nishiki Market in Kyoto was) and had lunch at a restaurant called Kanou-ya near Minowa Station instead, once I arrived back there. This was “Today’s Special Set Meal”, which contained pork, veggies, chicken katsu, and rice, and also implied that one could get different set meals there on different days. Hmm. Too bad I have a rule that I try to avoid eating at the same place more than once while on a vacation.

i felt really odd while eating though. Specifically, I felt a bit faint and wobbly whenever I leaned forward, which was worrying to me. I chalked that up to exhaustion but noted that I still needed to cross a couple roads to get back to the hotel, so hopefully my condition wouldn’t deteoriate and take a turn for the worse before I got home. I felt better as I ate though, though I’m no sure if it was due to the food or the rest, and I didn’t have any further incidents regarding this brief dizzy spell.

Once I was done the food, I walked back to my hotel, noting the presence of the Tokyo Skytree on the nearby skyline.

Hotel Emir

Upon reaching the hotel, I was met by a Chinese girl, younger than me, who checked me in to the hotel and asked if I could speak Chinese. I said I could, but hadn’t used it in some time, but the rest of our communication that day and for the rest of my stay here ended up in Chinese instead of English or Japanese — odd, but I didn’t think much about it at first. It made much more sense the next day after I learnt that Minowa was one of the spots in Tokyo with a high Chinese population.

It at least had a kitchenette, but the entire place was small, and had weird little things like how the toilet bowl was tilted a bit to the side so that it would fit in the bathroom. The kitchenette had a knife and plates and bowls and even cups, and over two dozen pairs of disposable wooden chopsticks, but for some reason had no forks or spoons at all. I asked the hotel about that and was told that they didn’t provide them due to hygiene reasons. What? Why even provide cups then? Don’t all the guests drink from that too? That made no sense and ended up in their post-stay review.

I did like the place overall though, particularly the bed (and convenienty placed TV across from it), the fridge being within arms reach of the bed itself, and a folding table that was propped up on the side of the room, which I would use to extend my available space while both cooking and eating. I unpacked, tooked a shower, and dozed off for a couple of hours to recharge my batteries.

I woke up a little after 5:00 pm and contemplated my dinner. The sun had set, and I wasn’t feeling like a random restaurant or outing, but there were three or four supermarkets within walking distance, though they were all on the other side of Minowa Station, so I would have to walk back there and then beyond it. Still, that seemed like a good idea, so I took a walk around the neighbourhood and took some photographs. Despite being a sieve of small side streets, it was fairly well lit and there constantly were people strolling by on their way to something or other, and it did not feel like a bad neighbourhood at all. There was even a small shopping street near the supermarkets, and I walked through that area too.

I had noticed that my room had no rice cooker, on top of having no spoon, but I found packets of pre-cooked rice at the supermarket that one just had to microwave before eating, and that sounded nice and lazy and a good mix with the immunity soup that I wanted to make, so I bought some of that, along with a number of vegetables and meat ingredients, some of which got save for subsequent days’ dinners. I also picked up a cheap box of noodles for the next day’s breakfast, and some Hokkaido yogurt drink in the back that I regretted, I don’t even like yogurt and have no idea why I decided to try it. I still finished all of it over the next few days, but yogurt from a bottle was even more weird than yogurt from a cup. And seemed to make me cough a little. I made soup, and then used the soup ladle and the side of my bowl as substitutes for not having a spoon. It didn’t work so well, but at least got me through the night. I resolved to buy a spoon the next day.

Shinkansen Running Total

I have a 21-day JR Pass that kicked in on Nov 05 and should last until the end of my trip on Nov 25. It cost $568 CAD, which cost around 61,769.08 yen, as per Google as of the first writing of this section. So I was curious and wanted to keep a running total — was this thing actually worth it?

That’s what I hope to find out with this section. For the full explanation blurb on this, check this corresponding section of the Day 15 blog post.

Trips

ට  Nov 05 2022 – Asama 611 (Tokyo to Nagano) – U: 7810, R: 8340
ට  Nov 06 2022 – Hakutaka 556 (Nagano to Ueda) – U: 1470, R: 2790
ට  Nov 06 2022 – Asama 615 (Ueda to Nagano) – U: 1470, R: 2790
ට  Nov 07 2022 – Kagayaki 509 (Nagano to Kanazawa) – 8920 (reserved seats only)
ට  Nov 07 2022 – Thunderbird 24 (Kanazawa to Kyoto) – U: 6490, R: 6820
ට  Nov 08 2022 – JR Kosei Line (Kyoto to Otsukyo) – 240 (unreserved seats only)
ට  Nov 08 2022 – JR Kosei Line (Otsukyo to Kyoto) – 240 (unreserved seats only)
ට  Nov 08 2022 – JR Nara Line (Kyoto to Inari) – 150 (unreserved seats only)
ට  Nov 08 2022 – JR Nara Line (Inari to Kyoto) – 150 (unreserved seats only)
ට  Nov 09 2022 – JR Nara Line (Tofukuji to Kyoto) – 150 (unreserved seats only)
ට  Nov 10 2022 – JR Sanin/Sagano Line (Saga-Arashiyama to Kyoto) – 240 (unreserved seats only)
ට  Nov 12 2022 – Super Hakuto 7 (Kyoto to Osaka) – U: 1230, R: 1760
ට  Nov 15 2022 – Kodama 720 (Shin-Osaka to Maibara) – U: 4510, R: 4840
ට  Nov 15 2022 – Kodama 748 (Maibara to Nagoya) – U: 3100, R: 3430
ට  Nov 18 2022 – Hikari 505 (Nagoya to Okayama) – U: 10550, R: 11080
ට  Nov 18 2022 – JR Marine Liner 45 (Okayama to Chayamachi) – 240 (unreserved seats only)
ට  Nov 19 2022 – JR Marine Liner 17 (Hayashima to Okayama) – 240 (unreserved seats only)
ට  Nov 19 2022 – Hikari 574 (Okayama to Shin-Kobe) – U: 5170, R: 5700
ට  Nov 19 2022 – Hikari 504 (Shin-Kobe to Kyoto) – U: 2860, R: 3390
ට  Nov 19 2022 – Hikari 509 (Kyoto to Okayama) – U: 7140, R: 7670
ට  Nov 19 2022 – JR Marine Liner 51 (Okayama to Hayashima) – 240 (unreserved seats only)
ට  Nov 20 2022 – JR Marine Liner 20 (Hayashima to Okayama) – 240 (unreserved seats only)
ට  Nov 20 2022 – JR Seto/Ohashi Line (Okayama to Omoto) – 150 (unreserved seats only)
ට  Nov 20 2022 – Sunrise-Izumo (Okayama to Tokyo) – 13970 (reserved seats only)
ට  Nov 21 2022 – JR Yamanote Line (Tokyo to Ueno) – 160 (unreserved seats only)
ට  Nov 21 2022 – JR Ueno-Tokyo Line (Ueno to Fujisawa) – 990 (unreserved seats only)
ට  Nov 21 2022 – JR Ueno-Tokyo Line (Fujisawa to Tokyo) – 990 (unreserved seats only)
ට  Nov 21 2022 – JR Yamanote Line (Tokyo to Okachimachi) – 140 (unreserved seats only)

Running Total

Unreserved: 79,250 yen
Reserved: 86,060 yen

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Kami Watch Over Me (Japan Day 30)

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