Sunday, 28 April 2013

Japan: Week 7

7 - Family in Tokyo

One of the greatest privileges is introducing people you love to a thing which you love, and have them love it, too. A portion of my family are currently in Japan, and it's one of the most exciting things in the world. This is my third visit to the country, and not so much of it takes me by surprise any more. It's still wonderful, and charming, and exciting, but all those feelings are different when it's not for the first time. Comfort and familiarity are valuable, but seeing such an incomparable place through another's eyes, as they take it in for the first time, that's a feeling which means a lot.

It's Golden Week in Japan, the fortnight containing a string of bank holidays, and one of the busiest times of the year for domestic travel. This was the time we chose for my mother and little sister to come to Japan and pay me a visit, as well as doing a bit of sight-seeing. It was busy, but I think it only added to the atmosphere, and as the weather was perfection incarnate, we just took it slow and rolled with the crowds.

So, you'll want to know what we did! Absolutely nothing of interest happened at the beginning of the week, I  just had to make sure I was on top of all my work so I could enjoy the weekend. On Friday morning I left I-House to make the 4 hour journey to a certain Tokyo hostel.

Empty, sunny bus. Set a good precedent for the weekend.
Given that it's about 250 miles, and I was travelling by public transport, that's pretty good. Most of the credit goes to our dear friend the Shinkansen.

So as soon as I'd achieved Tokyo, and hugged and kissed and marvelled at the tiny size of mum and Claire's room, we had a picnic lunch in the roof garden of the hostel (Great thing about Tokyo - they make use of every available space) and set out to explore.

On the right there is Kaminarimon, gracing the front of many a 'Guide to Tokyo'
First was Kaminarimon, 'Lightning Gate', and the temple it leads to, Senso-Ji. This was one of the things I was talking about. Temples, and the abundance of red, and Japanese architecture in general, are not surprising to me any more. It gave me a glow to see others light up in reaction to them so completely.

Claire, and a pagoda
Another new feeling was meeting up with an old friend out of context. A very dear girl in my life happens to be studying in Tokyo at the moment, and we met up on the Saturday.

The family, and Yuna
We went on a cruise down the River Sumida, enjoying the glorious sunshine (especially the two who had come from England...) and catching up on news. After we'd been deposited in a lovely park, we wandered to Tokyo Station for our free walking tour leading us to the Imperial Palace Gardens. These were a sight worth seeing, surrounded as the serene landscape was by the hustle and bustle of central Tokyo.

On Saturday evening we went out for a pancake/omelette dish called Okonomiyaki because it is delicious, and because you get to cook it on your table. Japanese cuisine > All other cuisine.

Today we packed up and visited the Sky Tree as our last activity in Tokyo, although the Shinkansen does count as an activity in itself in reality.

Tokyo Skytree. Is tall.
We headed back to Nagoya on the fastest mode of transport readily available, and because this was turning out to be just the perfect weekend, also ate Obento (traditional Japanese 'lunch boxes') and saw Mount Fuji out the window, against a postcard-blue backdrop of sky.

Shinkansen speeding into the station.


Now my mother and sister are tucked up in a hotel in Nagoya, to have fun and get their breath back while I study hard again this week, and we head off for more Japanese sights next weekend. Until then, I'm going to extremely enjoy wearing all my summer clothes which the beauties brought for me from Home.


1 comment: