Monday, 27 December 2010

Meiji Jingu and Ueno Park [but a row-boat ride this time]; Should have included museums, but didn't - not our fault!!

Off and out early this morning with all good intention of visiting the Meiji Jingu shrine and some museums.

Arrived at the Meiji Jingu [shinto] shrine.  A beautiful area of nature covering approx 700,000m2 (inner precinct), gardens, and a forest of 170,000 trees numbering around 245 species, together with several Torii (Shrine gates).  We wandered around the peaceful grounds, paid our respect at the Temizuya (font) by way of the hand and mouth cleansing, then entered the shrine area.  This shrine is dedicated to Emperor Meiji and his consort Empress Shoken, and was established on 1 November 1920, following their deaths in 1912 and 1914 respectively.

Once we had taken in all the atmosphere of this harmonious wonder, we set off in search of the Bonsai Museum; walked around a block of buildings where it was rumoured to be (9th floor somewhere) a couple of times but to no avail.  So we gave up.  Did come across a 7-Eleven Store though, so we could get some more cash.

Decided to try option 2 - the National Photography Museum.  Once again - walked around the block without success.  Not sure what we're missing by way of signage, but there's absolutely nothing obvious to signal where these places are.... I think the Tourist Info Board are missing a trick!

Once again with aching feet, having trogged for no reason, we made our way to Ueno Park - this time to take a row boat out on the lake (it meant we weren't standing).  What a luxury just bobbing around in the sunshine, taking in the scenery.

Left the boating lake and decided to try the more established museums/galleries situated around the park - still no luck - they all seem to be closed on Monday!  Not sure if this is just a Monday thing, or whether today was some sort of holiday - we'll never know.

Gave up on the idea of a museum visit at this point and made our way to the Ameyoko street market between Ueno and Okachimachi.  It was mayhem - a loud, lively, enthusiastic and animated mix of sellers offering everything from fresh and dried fish (definately the most popular area of the market by far) to stereos, leather goods, etc.

Having had our fill of eye-popping raucousness, we made our way around the back streets of the railway line to find somewhere to eat.  Came across a truly authentic Japanese restaurant; had to take the waiter to the door and point at a picture of the food we wanted to order as no English translations were available; also ordered two glasses of Sake and were promptly served with two cups of hot green tea - oh well....
The food was served on a tray and consisted of a bowl of rice, a bowl of chicken broth, a plate of chicken with dressed salad (I had thought I was ordering sticky bbq pork?), and a small side dish containing two slices of a vegetable we didn't recognise - the colour of swede, about the size of a fat carrot, but nobbly in shape - any clues?  It was a delicious meal - eaten with chopsticks, admittedly Col used his finger to try and push some rice on only to find it stuck to him - they don't call it sticky rice for nothing!!  Total cost 1,050 yen - a real bargain!!  Got up to leave, I explained to Col how to say 'delicious', and when he used it we were given a totally blank, confused look - obviously a mispronunciation - OOoooops!  And to top it off, having paid, we left with me giving a cheery 'Konichiwa' (Hello!!).  Think we're tired!!!  Concentration is definately waning.

Back to hotel via the cake shop for an early night... need time for feet and legs to repair themselves.

Probably not one of our more successful days out!  Better luck tomorrow.

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