Japan: Arrival and Walkin' Around

One of my first impressions of Japan, on the Keisei Skyliner from Narita Airport to Ueno Station in Tokyo.

I had some time to kill before I met Dave, so I walked around Ueno Park a bit. I didn't know it yet, but most neighbourhoods in Tokyo have their own special manhole cover design. This is Ueno Park's. It was while I was taking this picture that I was approached by an older man who wanted to be friendly and perhaps take me out for a drink. I told him I was meeting my brother and marched smartly away.

This is my room in the Sakura Ryokan, which was a very agreeable and well-located place to stay. I recommend it. I was the only tourist there, although they were clearly set up to accomodate backpackers, with a shelf of tacky paperbacks in English and laundry facilities. I hope their business picks up soon.

Hotel bathrooms in Tokyo redefine "tiny". I think it was stellar good timing that I went to Japan just as the reno of our bathroom was being completed, because I think lots of Canadians would think our new bathroom is ridiculously tiny and cramped, but I think it's lovely and spacious. Tokyo bathrooms are generally brilliantly laid out - observe that the faucet for the sink also serves as the faucet for the bathtub.

Slipper parking. You have to leave your street shoes in a little locker at the front of the hotel, then you wear these ugly vinyl slippers around the hotel and take them off in the "foyer" of your hotel room.

The ryokan is right off Kappabashi, the street of restaurant supply stores, and of course if you want to open a restaurant in Japan you're going to need some plastic food to set out in front. You can get custom made plastic food, or you can just buy the off-the-shelf stuff, in case your potential customers have forgotten what a piece of sushi or a bowl of spaghetti looks like. (There are plastic versions of Western food, too.) Here someone in the plastic food factory got creative and made a broken bowl of plastic soup with a rendition of Munch's The Scream on it in plastic sour cream.

Trompe-l'oeil with Godzilla.

Stacked-up parking, like something from a Matchbox toy car set.

Giant slabs of wood from the giant slabs of wood store.

Japanese breakfast at the ryokan.

This temple was closed for restoration, so they kindly created a giant vinyl poster of the temple and hung it up so you could get a good idea of what you were missing.

Tubeflops. Sorry, Tübeflops.

Teeny tiny shrimp sushi.

There were hydrangeas everywhere.

Every tourist who goes to Shibuya is obliged to take a picture of the scramble intersection by Shibuya Station.

One of the thousands of crows which plague Tokyo. I just learned that they're a subspecies of the Jungle Crow.

Giant rhinoceros beetle climbs building.

One of the random shrines you run across when you wander Tokyo.

I kind of miss these vending machines, although in real life I tend not to drink juice or pop. I took this picture for the tile in the back, though. I can't stand the look of the lined-up tile, I don't know why. Lots of buildings are tiled like this, though, so I suppose I would get used to it.

Sidewalk garden.

A street decorated with streamers (for the Tanabata festival?)

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