We are very happy we stayed a couple of days here because it takes that time to get one’s bearings.
Today we decided to see an exhibition of Japanese architecture in the very fashionable Ginza area. This is just three metro stops from our studio. We don’t have a map of Tokyo as such an item would be pretty useless. Tokyo is divided into districts so you need a map for each district. We located the Panasonic Museum, where the exhibition was to take place, on Google maps. We thought we were sorted. However street names are often either only in Japanese or not evident at all! Sometimes they are on the ground and sometimes high up on a pole. Getting lost becomes a past time for visitors. Having set off in the wrong direction we quickly realized our mistake, retraced our steps and found the museum. It was situated right next to the oldest railway station building in Tokyo. This railway line is long closed down and the (re)building sits dwarfed by the massive skyscrapers all around.
The Panasonic building is very impressive consisting of 42 floors. The upper two are occupied by restaurants. These are around the perimeter of the building so that one has to eat or drink there in, at vast expense, to get the view over Tokyo. We passed on this delight. The exhibition was on the 4th floor. It was very interesting showing wooden or polystyrene models of old and new Japanese houses. The expo had been put together by 4 French architects, one of whom lives in Tokyo.
We then took to wandering the very chic streets of Ginza. Every chic fashion house is represented here. At midday precisely police blocked both ends of the main thorougfare and the street became pedestrianised. Masses of people thronged on to the street. It was amazing.
Lunch was had in a beautiful small restaurant which had long open windows on to the street. There is no eating on the street, as far as we have discovered, so this was the nearest we could get to outdoor dining! We reckon it is the Japanese obsession with hygiene which prevents street cafes.
Small observation: does anyone know why very many Japanese have turned in feet?
This starts with last night’s dinner. A truly unmemorable affair. We had nothing planned and had not seen anywhere locally which took our fancy. So we meandered down the big wide street on which our studio is situated. We tried one place but it was fully booked. The next place was empty – we did not heed that obvious warning. It was Chinese not Japanese. We had to order from pictures. We had no idea what we had ordered and we’re still do not know what is was. The place was not clean but we were too tired to care and just wanted to get back to bed.
This morning dawned bright and sunny and we had both slept well. Our studio seating is Japanese style so with my wonky hip I cannot risk lowering myself to floor level. Hence breakfast has to be taken in bed!!
Our Airbnb host had left 24hrs of Wifi usage. This was running out fast. We also discovered that the plug adapter we had bought in London supposed to be for Japan was not indeed the correct model. We therefore needed to find a wifi provider who would give us temporary access and adapters for our appliances.
We set off for the shopping area just 2 metro stops along our line. This was some experience. Throngs of people and blaring noise. The famous “scramble crossing” is situated in this area. It is well named. Pedestrian crossings criss cross the intersection. When the traffic lights change people converge on the crossing from every direction. It is organised mayhem. However one is at no risk from motor vehicles, it is from bicycles that the greatest threat comes…. The are crazy and cycle on footpaths, the road or any available spot.
We were witness to the Tokyo’s police reaction to a very loud protest group. Several cars were broadcasting loudly as they drove along. The police closed in, threw barriers across the road. A Paddy wagon arrived, we assumed to remove the protesters.
We checked a suitable eating establishment for tonight. It was French. We would have preferred Japanese but as restaurants go this was superb. It was not expensive either. Three courses for me, five for Barry and a 1/2 bottle of French wine cost about 80€. All well and good until we went to pay. Neither of our credit cards would work. This despite we had informed our banks we would be travelling. The restaurant owner phoned his bank but no joy. He told us not to worry we could come back tomorrow! In fact we were very near our studio so Barry hopped back and got cash. Meanwhile they fed me more delicious mint tea.
This is typical of Japanese people. I was waiting for Barry outside a shop today and the owner came out with a glass of ice cold water.