Day 4: In Gotanda TOKYO 1 May 2017

After my technological traumas of yesterday I have decided to keep it simple. I have sent a request to my provider so I will continue to write about our adventure. The purpose of these ramblings is to leave something of our lives behind for our grandchildren. We make a printout of it and paste it into a scrapbook, together with memorabilia, one for each family.

Today we planned on going to visit the emperor’s palace – the Imperial Palace. It is right in the heart of Tokyo. It is about 5 metro stops from our studio. We are now discovering all sorts of alternative routes to the metro station. The area we are in is sort of middle to lower middle class. Hotel visitors would probably never discover it. It gives us a very normal impression of life here. Our studio is small but has all we need. The entrance to our building slightly shocked us on arrival as it is dingy and dark and the domestic rubbish and recycling is kept on racks in full view of the entrance.

Most public places are spotless and we witnessed a man removing a cigarette butt from the pavement outside his apartment block. Smoking is bizarrely forbidden, except for designated areas, in public. But you can light up inside a restaurant. Some restaurants have smoking rooms. The pavement ‘designated areas’ are always full of very young black suited, many with collars and ties, executives, all puffing away! We are amazed by the number of young smokers here in Japan.

Another interesting observation (for us) is the number of DVD rental outlets. These also carry comics for rent! I wonder has Netflix not reached Japan?

What do I say about the Imperial Palace – very little really. His Royal Highness, the Emperor, keeps himself to himself behind very high walls. The Palace is only open 2 days a year, and then only to the nobility, I believe.

So we decided to have lunch which was delicious. While seated outside, in one of the only street cafes we have come across, the rain started. It came down in stair rods with thunder and lightening. Up to that moment we have had almost unbroken sunshine and 20 – 25 degrees. But we had checked today’s weather before setting out so we’re equipped with suitable light rainwear.

We also decided to check trains for Kyoto for Wednesday. Having queued for about 20mins we discovered trains up to 16hrs are all booked up because it is a holiday. However there are about 10 ‘non bookable’ carriages so we were advised to come early and queue. The trains seem to be miles long! It will be another adventure. Trust us to try to cross the country on the day when everyone is on holiday and travelling home or on holiday!!!

Tonight we are invited to an Airbnb sake evening. We will see what that brings. Then we are booked into a very popular Japanese restaurant in our area. Again we’ll see what that brings.