Kami Watch Over Me Series - Table of Contents
|Entry||Notable Places/Events||Start of Day||End of Day|
|Day 0 – Thursday, Oct 20 2022 to Friday, Oct 21 2022||Flight from Edmonton to Tokyo||Edmonton||Tokyo|
|Day 1 – Saturday, Oct 22 2022||Saitama, Ikebukuro||Tokyo||Tokyo|
|Day 2 – Sunday, Oct 23 2022||Autumn Reitaisai 9, Shinjuku||Tokyo||Tokyo|
|Day 3 – Monday, Oct 24 2022||Akihabara||Tokyo||Tokyo|
|Day 4 – Tuesday, Oct 25 2022||Hakone||Tokyo||Hakone|
|Day 5 – Wednesday, Oct 26 2022||Kamakura, Enoshima Shrine||Hakone||Kamakura|
|Day 6 – Thursday, Oct 27 2022||Hanno||Kamakura||Hanno|
|Day 7 – Friday, Oct 28 2022||Shinkoiwa||Hanno||Tokyo|
|Day 8 – Saturday, Oct 29 2022||Akihabara, Matsudo City||Tokyo||Tokyo|
|Day 9 – Sunday, Oct 30 2022||M3-50, Moto-Yawata||Tokyo||Tokyo|
|Day 10 – Monday, Oct 31 2022||Akasaka, Shimo-Kitazawa, Shibuya Halloween||Tokyo||Tokyo|
|Day 11 – Tuesday, Nov 01 2022||Shinjuku, Sophia University||Tokyo||Tokyo|
|Day 12 – Wednesday, Nov 02 2022||Sophia University, Kabukicho||Tokyo||Tokyo|
|Day 13 – Thursday, Nov 03 2022||Shinjuku Loft||Tokyo||Tokyo|
|Day 14 – Friday, Nov 04 2022||Shinjuku, Hanazono/Asakusa Tori no Ichi, Sensoji||Tokyo||Tokyo|
|Day 15 – Saturday, Nov 05 2022||Nagano, Zenkoji||Tokyo||Nagano|
|Day 16 – Sunday, Nov 06 2022||Ueda Sanada Festival, Ueda City, Sanada Shrine||Nagano||Nagano|
|Day 17 – Monday, Nov 07 2022||Zenkoji, Kyoto, Nakagyo Ward||Nagano||Kyoto|
|Day 18 – Tuesday, Nov 08 2022||Otsu, Omi Jingu||Kyoto||Kyoto|
|Day 19 – Wednesday, Nov 09 2022||Fushimi Inari, Kashoji, Tofukuji, Shorinji||Kyoto||Kyoto|
|Day 20 – Thursday, Nov 10 2022||Ohara, Sanzenin, Arashiyama||Kyoto||Kyoto|
|Day 21 – Friday, Nov 11 2022||Kiyomizu, Ryozen Kannon, Yasaka Shrine||Kyoto||Kyoto|
|Day 22 – Saturday, Nov 12 2022||Heian Raku Ichi Market, Osaka, Juso||Kyoto||Osaka|
|Day 23 – Sunday, Nov 13 2022||Sukunahikona Shrine, Namba||Osaka||Osaka|
|Day 24 – Monday, Nov 14 2022||Kobe (with Ran)||Osaka||Osaka|
|Day 25 – Tuesday, Nov 15 2022||Maibara, Toyosato, Nagoya||Osaka||Nagoya|
|Day 26 – Wednesday, Nov 16 2022||Osu, Banshoji, Naka||Nagoya||Nagoya|
|Day 27 – Thursday, Nov 17 2022||Obara Shikizakura Festival, Rurikozanyakushi||Nagoya||Nagoya|
|Day 28 – Friday, Nov 18 2022||Okayama, Kurashiki||Nagoya||Kurashiki|
|Day 29 – Saturday, Nov 19 2022||Kyoto (with Xuanjie), Autumn Okayama Momotaro Festival||Kurashiki||Kurashiki|
|Day 30 – Sunday, Nov 20 2022||Okayama, Sunrise Izumo||Kurashiki||Sunrise Izumo|
|Day 31 – Monday, Nov 21 2022||Minowa, Enoshima Shrine, Ameyoko Market||Sunrise Izumo||Tokyo|
|Day 32 – Tuesday, Nov 22 2022||Shibuya, Taito City||Tokyo||Tokyo|
|Day 33 – Wednesday, Nov 23 2022||Akihabara||Tokyo||Tokyo|
|Day 34 – Thursday, Nov 24 2022||Shinjuku (with Yaoxiang), Harajuku||Tokyo||Tokyo|
|Day 35 – Friday, Nov 25 2022||Sensoji, Narita Airport, Flight from Tokyo to Edmonton||Tokyo||Edmonton|
|Final Thoughts||Final Thoughts|
Wednesday, Nov 23 2022 (Day 33)
Morning and Lunch
As promised yesterday by the weather forecast on the news, the skies opened overnight and poured torrential rain down upon the entire Kanto region for the entire day. This was only the second actual day where it rained where I was since I came to Japan, the first being Day 23 in Osaka. There were three other days with slight drizzles, but nothing that had warranted me buying an umbrella thus far. On Day 23, I was not in a hotel or dwelling that offered an umbrella for guests to use, but I was near enough to covered market streets and the train station that I just ran there anyway and made do for the day. Today, it was the opposite — I was about 5-10 minutes of open skies away from the train station, but the place I was staying at thankfully lent me an umbrella.
Specifically, what happened late last night was that a little waste bag attached to the kitchen sink’s drain strainer (shaped like a deep cup) that was used to collect kitchen waste inexplicably bobbed up and came loose of the drain strainer, and so I threw it away and asked the owner if he had a replacement one. He said there was no need, likely since the strainer itself would collect the kitchen waste anyway. As part of that conversation, he asked if I had WeChat, the predominant chat app used in China, equivalent to Line in Japan, WhatsApp in many other countries around the world, etc. I thought for a while and then gave him my contact details for that platform, especially since I only had one contact on that anyway, the person who had originally invited me. Wouldn’t hurt to get more experience in using the app.
Once we traded details, I mentioned the rain the next day, and he then told me that there was an umbrella downstairs in the lobby and that I should feel free to use it. So I did! It was one of those clear umbrellas I really liked, though it was a small one obviously built more to address concerns about carrying an umbrella around in a crowd rather than concerns about keeping the user’s shoes dry.
One of the things I have been trying to do more of since I started my entire blog is to open my eyes and look around more. Yet, for some reason, I had been living near this rooftop balcony/garden, outside my apartment and across from the corridor next to my front door, for three days now without ever noticing it. And the only reason I did so in the end was because the rain made me look up and out of my immediate, self-centered bubble as I was exiting my apartment.
How neat! I wonder who it belongs to.
I went to another restaurant nearby Minowa Station for lunch. I’m pretty sure it was also Chinese-owned, but I had their Meat, Eggs, and Kikurage Set Meal, and the vegetable, meat, and mushroom medley mix on the plate there was amazing.
Because it was raining very heavily today, I didn’t actually travel very much, nor did I take a lot of photos, since I had to hold an umbrella and bags most of the day. I still hit my 10,000 steps quota that I had noticed I had been keeping up since the start of the vacation though, according to my phone’s Google Fit app tracker.
I spent the day walking around Akihabara, visiting various stores to buy CDs, both for myself and for Shuuka, a mutual friend of Mart‘s. I went to two stores selling brand new CDs, Gamers and Animate, and two stores selling second-hand CDs, Lashinbang and Book-off, all within a city block or two of each other. This was to be my last shopping day, so I picked up enough CDs to more or less fill my bags — my theory being that otherwise the $130 that I had spent on sending the initial box of loot that I had back home would have been wasted. That and these CDs aren’t exactly things that I can get in Canada.
I picked up seven CDs that Shuuka wanted, all first-hand CDs with a few small bonuses like poster and badges, and this cost a touch over 15,000 yen (but I would be paid back in full for them a week or so later).
I also grabbed 15 CDs from the second hand stores for myself. A bunch of these were 330 yen or so each and were to partially round out my Wake Up, Girls! collection, though I still only have about half their CDs all in all, but I found a few other CDs that I liked along the way as well.
In particular, I found this disc containing my favourite Japanese song, which I have previously featured in the Song of the Week segment of my weekly blogs.
It was complete happenstance that I found it wedged between a couple other CDs, while looking for a separate CD on someone else’s wishlist that I never did find. I had given up on looking for this one because it was in a weird mini CD format that most second-hand stores didn’t really carry or only had a small selection thereof, but this one was in the normal section in Book-off, and was the very last CD that I bought on my trip.
I was pretty happy with my haul overall though, with one of the other CDs that I bought today also containing the single version of another previously featured Song of the Week song. My fifteen CDs would cost me 6,202 yen in all, a little under $4 CAD per CD at the time.
Although it was all I could do to hurry from store to store, it was still really interesting to get to see Japan’s umbrella culture out in action for at least one day on my trip. Everyone breaking out their umbrellas meant that everyone needed more personal space, which made me wonder how places like the Shibuya Scramble crosswalk looked like in the rain. There are so many people crossing at every green pedestrian light there, as I saw when I visited the day before, that I’m not sure how people manage to navigate that crossing in the rain with umbrellas open. It must be quite a sight to behold from above.
Because many people in Japan use bicycles, I noticed that there was a sort of device or attachment for their bicycle that some people had, that allowed them to attach umbrellas to their bicycle, so that they could drive with two hands on their handlebar while still being covered by an umbrella, more or less. Not everyone on a bike had this, and there weren’t that many people out on bikes in general compared to a regular sunny or cloudy day, but I definitely saw the attachment in use a number of times.
Also, since it was Akihabara, the sidewalks I walked on between the four stores that I visited were lined with girls in different maid outfits trying to hand out brochures, tissues, and coupons to promote their nearby affiliated maid cafés to passersby. This was no different in the rain, though the girls all had umbrellas, but I felt a little sorry for them, all lined up in cute and frilly dresses, trying to attract the attention of people walking by while also trying to stay warm and dry to various degrees of success. Some were wearing jackets or windbreakers on top of their dresses, but not all. There were easily over a dozen different girls that I passed, closer to around 15 or 20, just in the segment of Akihabara that I traversed today alone. I did not take any pictures of them though, as I was trying to protect my bags of CDs by that time, the sidewalk was crowded, and taking pictures of them felt wrong to me anyhow.
Another interesting piece of rain culture I got to experience were umbrella racks and bags, every store had some variation of them at their door and they were interesting since nothing like that exists in Edmonton (nor Singapore, as far as I can recall, though it was nearly always sunny when I went there for two weeks recently as well). In several shops, but especially restaurants and convenience stores, there would be a rack outside that someone could deposit their umbrella into while they went inside to eat or shop.
For stores with umbrella racks, one can often see a couple umbrellas abandoned and sitting forlornly in them even on sunny days, and this sort of rack was where I “borrowed” (and then returned) my umbrella from back on Day 23 in Osaka. However, there is always the danger that the specific umbrella that someone deposited would be gone when they came to pick it up again, so people generally only leave cheap umbrellas in there. I actually think that the original umbrella that I borrowed might have been taken when I was eating my lunch earlier in the day, leaving me to take one from the rack next to it that was identical in size and design (clear, see-through plastic), but I couldn’t be sure about this. These make me a bit uneasy though, since I feel like most of the items I own have (miniature) souls or spirits in them, and I don’t like losing them or exchanging them for identical items unknowingly without time to mentally process (and collecting the item’s souls before) letting go of an item.
Other stores have something different, umbrella bags made of disposable plastic that they leave out front for customers coming into their store to wrap up their umbrella in before actually stepping in. An example of an automatic one looks like this, where one places the umbrella into the hole on top of the lid, and then “pulls” the umbrella out through the side, which leaves the umbrella wrapped up in plastic:
An example of a manual one looks like this, where the person with the umbrella simply takes a bag and slides their umbrella into it:
The umbrella bags are thin and narrow, and the process for using them is more or less to shake the umbrella dry at the entrance of the store, then wrap up and buckle the umbrella as though storing them away, before slipping the end of the umbrella into the long, narrow plastic bag and pulling it up. It’s fairly difficult to think of it as anything else besides an umbrella condom, because that’s basically how it worked — at the end of the shopping trip, the bag would be sensually slid off the stiff umbrella, and it would by then have accumulated a little pouch of water at the bottom due to the wet umbrella constantly dripping water into it while the person was walking around the store. The plastic pouch of water would then be tossed into the bin, usually located right next to where the bag was acquired in the first place. All the CD stores that I entered used this system, as did supermarkets and grocery stores, shopping malls, and even train stations.
Anyway, here’s a general gallery for the Akihabara portion of my day:
After I was done my shopping, I went back to one of the supermarkets in the Minowa area to get some dinner. I had only one small packet of rice left so i didn’t want to make soup again — instead, I wanted to try some instant noodles, as there were many brands here that I had never seen before in Canada. Like in Canada, instant noodle packets also all largely came in packs of 5, which I consider a mini-scam along the lines of how packs of buns and sausages are sold in different quantities in the West so as to always cause a leftover so the consumer will be encouraged to buy more, since I usually eat them two packs at a time.
Still, buying a pack of 5 would cover two dinners and one breakfast, so that’s what I did, though the one I bought ended up being a little weird and not particularly tasty. Oh well. At least it had a picture of a cute cat on it. I picked up a tofu bar that tasted weird as well, some chikuwa that didn’t taste much like anything, some croquettes that were great and on sale, some chicken that was okay and on sale, and a packet of Japanese curry that was supposedly off the scales hot. This would cover my two remaining dinners and two remaining breakfasts in Japan, and tomorrow’s lunch was also going to be covered by a certain prearranged meeting as well, so I was done my meal costs with this grocery run, with only lunch on my final day left in the air.
As I had not gone back to the hotel at all up until this point, I was worried that my reusable shopping bag that I had been using would break, or that the CDs in either the bag or my shoulder sling bag would get wet, but I managed to keep them all dry and safe somehow. The reusable bag in particular has been a hero for me on this trip and I will be giving it a shout out in the post-trip review blog post.
Dinner looked like this:
And then I settled down to watch the World Cup soccer match between Japan and Germany on my room’s TV, which Japan won 2-1. The World Cup coverage in Japan is weird, because different TV channels seem to have the rights to different games, so to actually follow along with the live matches, I had to switch channels between games to find out where the next match was being broadcasted. Anyway the Japanese news for the rest of that night and the following day were filled with highlight clips (and newscasters reacting to highlight clips, a very strange Japanese TV phenomenon that will also be reserved for post-trip review) of the match.
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.
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)
ට Nov 22 2022 – JR Chuo/Sobu Line (Akihabara to Yoyogi) – 200 (unreserved seats only)
ට Nov 22 2022 – JR Yamanote Line (Yoyogi to Shibuya) – 0 (transfer)
ට Nov 22 2022 – JR Yamanote Line (Shibuya to Okachimachi) – 200 (unreserved seats only)
Unreserved: 79,650 yen
Reserved: 86,460 yen