Trains and more trains

Woo hoo I’ve had conversations! Met an Italain guy and a Russian girl at the ticket office at Otsuki who are also travelling to Koto. They are both students in London at the Nottingham Trent “London branch”. There is also an Australian family who just spent 2 nights in Fujiyoshida and visited the lakes and rode the cable car. So I may have been harsh on the place.

Then on the train to Hachioji I sat next to a nice Japanese young lady who started a conversation with me. Made me smile and her English was good enough to get through a lot.

Now on yet another commuter like train on the way to get my first bullet train (Shinkansen Hikari).

Shinkansen have masses of leg room, my knees barely get half way to the seat in front! And I’ve got a window seat – Comfy.

BTW Ness … tell Sockgirl that socks are in here.

Kyoto

There is another post to go before this that’s on the PDA, I’ll post that when I find some WiFi access.

This is just a quick one to say I’m in Kyoto, found the hostel OK it’s a cramped dorm room (4 bunk beds) but all very clean and well maintained. All I’ve done is put some washing in their machine, showeredand changed.

Off out for a wander round the night life soon.

Thursday???

I think it must be Thursday.

Breakfast in the hotel, and bless them, they brought me a western breakfast, well at least I didn’t get the same bowls and dishes as the locals on other tables.

The Japanese seem to treat breakfast as just another meal so I got a tiny bowl of cornflakes, two bread rolls, some kind of soup and an omlette and salad.

After a walk around in the rain I did find a little shrine but had no chance of even catching a glimpse of Mount Fuji 🙁 And nothing changed my impression of the town so as of now I’m back on the little train on the start of the trip to Kyoto.

Fujiyoshida

Well how can I describe it? The charitable description is “like a British seaside town out of season” the less charitable version is “a bit of a hole”.

To be fair I think it is effectively a resort town for the Fuji-san climbing season; which is now over.

I arrived by a little two carriage train which rocked through the mountains on single track line (and a private line so not covered by my rail pass). I think foreigners are still a bit scarey because at one stop a whole class of primary school chi
dren got on for a trip to the next stop (yes it was THAT sort of train) and filled all availble seats except the 3 around me!

When I get there it’s so misty I can’t see Mount Fuji – yet alone it’s summit.

When I left the station and there was no obvious town centre to head for so I consultied a map in the station and headed off. I did actually manage to ask a guy sitting having a fag “where is hotel?” and he must have understood because he pointed to big building 50 yards to my right with “hotel” written on it.

Great, one problem solved! So off I go only to discover (after taking the lift up to dark floor) that it’s closed – steel shutter down closed. Downstairs there is what I think is a girlie bar – so by now I’m less than chuffed with the town. Even more so when I have a 3 minute panic until I discover which pocket I stowed my wallet in.

My mood is lightened when a group of passing school girls “konnichi wa” me and have a fit of the giggles when I “konnichi wa” back.

After re-consulting the station map I head off to another hotel which is open but gives the air of that I’m the onky guest! Still comfortable enough.

After a shower I go wandering for food. The place puts me in mind of Canadian/American towns; development along lots of roads but I can’t find “downtown”.

I eat in a restaurant with a sushi conveyer belt! Cool! And the Japanese can put it away, the two guys’ pile of plates next to me soon towers over my puny 4!

I’m hoping the weather is clear tomorrow morning, then once I’ve seen Fuji I think I may leave earlier. This was so close to a disaster – but recovered enough for it to be funny now. The tale will grow in the telling.

Wednesday

This morning it was off to the station with my pack because today is the first travelling day.

First to Studio Ghibli which was only 4 stops up the line. At Mikita station I managed to stuff the big pack in a locker (just) then it was an easy walk. Was one of first in so got to see the movie (there are more than one type of cat bus) and have a little wander in peace. I know they restrict the numbers but I think everyone was in the gift shop at the same time as me. Bought some goodies but I was limited by the requirement to carry them and price!

Had a bit of a wait for my train and some problems getting the locker door open! But a kind English speaking gentleman helped. I will admit that I am stating to miss conversation!

As l scribble this into the PDA I’m on the train heading towards Mount Fuji. I’n just hoping I can find a room for tonight.

Wow, that was suprising to see! As the two guards walked out of my carriage the stopped, turned round, took their hats off and bowed to the whole carriage.

Green Tea, Fish and Cranes

This morning I got to experience the Tokyo underground in rush hour. It wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be and I certainly didn’t see and “crammers” stuffing people on trains. It was more civilised than London, but little old ladies here can push just as well as those back home.

Asakusa Senso-Ji

Spent the morning in Asakusa looking at the temples and generally wandering around.

A very silly building

Then took the river boat down to Hamarikyu gardens and took green tea in the middle of the lake whilst watching leaping fish and the white crane. Very civilised. Then a walk back through Ginza, successfully negotiated the posting of two post cards in the post office and took in the rather impressive architecture at the Tokyo International Forum (Google it – I can’t upload every picture now).

The Tea House in HamarikyuGreen Tea and a sweet

I also found the statue of Godzilla.

Go! Go! Godzilla!

Right now I’m in the hotel but going to go out for something to eat in a short while.

Food & Sleep!

Went to Shinjuku to wander around and look at the neon. Very pretty, but I’m sure some of the side streets I wandered down were dodgy or would have been if I could read the signs above the door. Haven’t been in a pichinco parlor yet, but you should hear the noise when the door to one opens! Ended up with a beer and a meal back in a little cafe in Asagaya.

Phewwww

I’m here and at my first hotel. Bloody knackered and a little bit dazed. Passport control took ages and then the train in from the airport took an hour to Tokyo central station. I dumped the backpack in a locker and went wandering. Found the imperial palace (not open to the public) & what I later found out was the edge of Ginza.

By then my legs were complaining so I came and found my hotel for a shower. It’s now 5:30 so I’m about go out again. The Suits and the school uniforms are all true BTW!