Anyone seen my camera?

Tokyo Travel Blog

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Tokyo Tower from the distance
This day started out a bit poorly.  I was ready for my first ever day in Tokyo alone but I could not find my camera.  I torn through my pack several times and began to think I had left it in Canada.  Of courser the fact that I had used it the previous day to take a snapshot of the outside of the hotel did not dawn on me.  After a while I gave up and accepted that I had lost something else. This is very easy for me as I am fairly absent minded and losing things and relocating them days later is  almost a daily occurrence for me.

So first things first I need food.  I am still seriously jet lagged so I really was not in the mood to battle through the language barrier on a empty stomach.
I love Japanese gas stations
  The good news is about 500 meters down the road I remember seeing the  familiar sign of McDonalds.   As I travel more and more I am getting used ot eating strange foods and strange food combinations but I am still fairly conservative with my breakfasts.  Especially early in my trips I want to eat a Western style breakfast so I am ready to face the days adventures head on.  I thought McDonalds would be as safe as anything in Tokyo for breakfast.

The ordering went well as the restaurant had an English menu under the counter and the manager spoke decent English.  The food was about what you expect from the Golden Arches as well but there was a couple of small surprises that were not food related.  In my province we have some of the strictest non smoking laws in the world.
I always take photos of signs with my name
  Not only can you not smoke inside any public building you can not smoke within 6 meters of a public building.  So it was a surprise to see so many people smoking while eating breakfast in all parts of the restaurant.  

The next thing was more funny then surprising.  Japan society was recycling garbage before most of the world had even heard of it.  After my meal I went to the garbage can and was faced with 4 holes with a whole lot of Japanese explaining what type of garbage goes into what type of whole.  There was no way I was going to figure this out alone and it did not seem to be okay to just leave the garbage on the table like I would in Canada or America.  So I was forced to use my limited Japanese.

I looked around and found a young lady in a McDonalds' uniform, smiled my most charming smile (a bit scary really) and very nervously said "sumimasen".
A friend of mine loves photos of buses so here is the first of many.
  The good news is either she understood my pronunciation of excuse to me or she just took pity on me and she came over and started to separate my garbage and place it in the correct holes while trying to explain it  all in broken English.  I really paid attention just in case I placed my stomach's health in peril again by eating American fast food again. 

Now refueled I was ready to hit the town.  I was staying in the Ueno town of Tokyo and I was told the Ueno park was large and very nice.  Best of all I could walk there from my hotel without having to navigate the Tokyo subway system.  Armed with a printed out map, the Oak Hotel has free internet, and my compass I marched back towards Ueno Station and Ueno Park.
a small temple near the hotel

The park was quite nice.  It was not too busy as it was a work day and still early so most hard working Japanese where in their offices working their typical long work days.  The population of the park was older Japanese men out for a walk and some middle aged women marching off to some event in one of the many museums in the park.  There were also a few groups of what I guess where day care classes as I saw many very young children, all wearing the same uniform, walking in rows surrounded my what looked to be teachers.  I would love to show you photos of this park but I still had not found my camera.

I spent about two hours in the park exploring before I found myself at the other side looking out what seemed to be a residential neighbourhood.  I strange cities I really enjoy just walking around and getting feel for the city.  I this is more possible to do if I am in part of the city where people live and not necessarily work.  The only trouble was my map of the park lost its accuracy one I left the park.  The risk was I was going to get very lost but since I was in no hurry and had no plans and Tokyo is super safe this was no big deal. 

I must of spent 3 hours just wandering.  I would see a very small street and would just walk down it so ee what was there.  The only thing I did was make sure I kept the parks boundaries on my left at all times so when I was time to head back it would be easy.  After a while my feet got tired and it was time to find lunch.  This part of Tokyo is blessed with dozens of noodle shops so I just found one pointed at a plastic food model in the window and proudly said, "ichi udon kudasai".  I am sure my accent was dreadful and my grammar even worse but the little old lady behind the counter just giggled said "hai" and rattled off some more Japanese that I had no chance of understanding and pointed me towards some seats.  As expected the lunch was large and good and only cost me about $8.  If you can eat noodles a lot you can eat cheaply in Japan.

I made a quick trip back to my hotel to get organized and reloaded with maps from Google.  I went up to my room and solved the mystery of the missing camera by accident.  I was checking on my passport, which I had safely stored in the room safe, and guess what was on top of my passport looking slightly pissed at being left behind.  Yes there was my small Casio safely stored in a place that not even I could find it.  This is why I make sure that the ladies in my life are organized because I really need someone helping in this skill.

With me small crisis solved I was ready to attack the Ueno Station again.  Now Tokyo has many JR train lines, that my JR Pass was good for, and the private Tokyo Subway which the pass does not help.  The subway has a couple of stations close to the Oak Hotel but I chose to walk the .5 KM back to Ueno Station and ride the Yamanote Line that circles most of Tokyo.  My first visit was to the famous Akibahara neighborhood.

I was kind of mentally lost in Akibahara.  This is the land of geeks and computers.  I can kind relate to geeks as I am kind of one myself but computers are almost beyond me.  It takes all of my computer knowledge just to post on this website forget trying to figure out all the gadgets and computer components that I saw sold all over this part of Tokyo.  It was an experience but not really my scene so after a about an hour of wandering around I was back on the train this time to the shopping region of Roppongi.

Strike two.  I may not understand computers but I can at least looked at them and see their use and find one I would really like to have.  Roppingi is much like the street I live in Vancouver, full of very high retailers selling expensive clothes.  Since my fashion sense is well below my computer skills this region was full of stores I could have cared less about.  I did manage did get really really lost trying to find a interesting street for me.  I did manage to find some pubs that looked good but were not yet open and probably sold beer at prices well beyond my budget.

One more try I was off to see Harajuku.  Back onto the train.  Looking at my map it was easier to get from where I was to Harajuku by the subway.  I have heard that the Tokyo subway maps looks like a plate of spaghetti  and I would agree, there are so many lines heading in every direction.  My experience though is it is very easy to use.  As the subway system has so many lines often you can get from one place to another without transferring trains.  You just find where you are on the map and try to find a line that gets you close and you can normally walk the rest of the way.  The only trouble is the subway has less signs and announcements in English compred to the JR trains. 

Harajujku was much more fun even if it made me feel kind of old.  This is where Tokyo gets its street fashion from and if you have heard many stories about Tokyo you likely have heard of the Harajuku Girls.  Now I guess this place really comes to life on the weekends but I was not going to be in the area on the weekend so here I was.  Even in the afternoon of weekday it was fairly busy.  I may not know anything about fashion but at least the people shopping here where more interested in having fun then worry about if they fit a certain style. 

I most have walked several miles by this point and my feet were killing me.  Back on to the train for the long ride back to Ueno.  By now it was rush hour and I was totally squashed on the train.  Somehow I managed to get back to Ueno without getting pushed off the train at the wrong station and without any major bruises.

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Tokyo Tower from the distance
Tokyo Tower from the distance
I love Japanese gas stations
I love Japanese gas stations
I always take photos of signs with…
I always take photos of signs wit…
A friend of mine loves photos of b…
A friend of mine loves photos of …
a small temple near the hotel
a small temple near the hotel
photo by: maka77