Tokyo Day 1: Take advantage of being a tourist

Ueno Travel Blog

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Random Observation/Comment #54: My first hostel experience is a positive one – I did not get killed (Because living is good, and dying is not as good).
The packed suitcase, backpack, and messenger bag became a nuisance very quickly. In Shinosaka, I boarded the Nozumi train, unaware of the restrictions of the JR pass. This super-duper express looked slick and had reserved seats. With my large luggage and foreign look of confusion, the English speaking attendant let me stand and get off in Kyoto without paying the extra charge. I wanted to stand there and take pictures out the window anyway, so it really wasn’t a big deal. The shinkansen took about 15 minutes from Osaka to Kyoto, so this cut my commute down.
From Kyoto to Tokyo, I took the normal Hitari for 3 hours and typed my long-winded journal entries.
Arriving at Tokyo at 3PM, I was completely unprepared for the level of complexity of the JR and subway tracks. I thought that Osaka was complicated, but now I saw a larger monster of confusion. There were rails everywhere and it made me feel like I was in the future – Japan is only a few hours ahead, but you’d be surprised how much they can accomplish with those few hours. I was expecting flying cars or floating traffic signals accompanying the transportation beast. With the heavy luggage reminding me of my homeless situation, I followed the shabby directions towards my hostel for the night. The poor planning on my part left me without a place to stay for a night.
I had a few backup plans with capsule hotels and random hostels, but I went to the one that was closest to the station.
It was obvious that I was lost. I stepped on and off trains looking around for a guardian angel to lead my way. This angel wore jeans and read a manga with black rimmed glasses. He spoke very little English and we communicated through broken Mandarin and Japanese. I am very grateful for his kindness.
My coffin accompanied 15 others on the fourth floor. Although the wooden cabinet was not painted or built with much precision, the mattress and pillow felt like a cheaper version of the space technology beds. There was a little window cut out with a lock, but the carpenter forgot to account for the fact that the piece of wood was not thin enough to just cut two perfect squares in the wooden panel and expect it to open.
It’s like making a double door where the doors meet exactly in the middle such that the thickness obstructs any of the sides from opening. I bowed my head in shame and embarrassment for such terrible engineering.
After leaving my things at the hostel, I boarded a train to Asakusa and did the touristy walk from one giant lantern to another, through the dense crowds of foreigners looking for gifts for loved ones back home. Because of the size of the lantern, I found a new angle to hold the camera (vertical with my head on the bottom and the lantern scenery on top). This should be an added variety to the normal “myspace profile picture pose.”
I must have taken at least 300 pictures in 3 hours. The sun was setting behind the shrines, temples, and pagodas so it was a field day for lens flare.
Just outside the temple was a large cauldron with lit incense. It is said that rubbing the smoke onto your wounded areas will help them heal, so you see many locals wafting smoke into their face and then washing themselves with this fluid (it actually looks really funny). The burning sensation in your eyes means that it’s working.
The inside of the temple was not anything particularly unique from what I had seen in Kyoto, but there were 100 yen fortunes on both sides. In order to pray for the success of my family and friends, I shook the box of sticks with numbers written on them. After a single stick fell out, you get the unique fortune corresponding to the number written on the stick. I got the “Best Fortune” and it basically said that everything bad will be good, everything would sick will be cured, and everything unhappy will become happy.
I think it’s time to buy a lottery ticket.
After feeding my camera’s 2GB stomach, I had to fill my own. I found this little place that let me cook my okonomiyaki and just sat on those tatami mats for a while. The little part of the town could be walked in an hour, but I stayed for four because I didn’t know where else I could go that would not be repeated by the tour. Pity I was so disciplined. I could have followed those British fellows and hot girls from the hostel to that club. My Mom’s nagging about being sure not to miss the tour got me paranoid. Oh well – just another night of catching up with my internet usage. TED talks continue to amaze me =).
~See Lemons annoyed at his luggage

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photo by: dyron_888