A&E on the World Heritage Train East 2009 travel blog

Ueno prayers and wishes

We should have more statues like this in Britain...


Rikogu-en island pine

Rikogu-en turtle


Shinjuku lights

So here I am back in Tokyo, staying near Ueno Station and Park, slightly west of where I was before, still technically in Asukusa, but being near a huge station it is a bit more streety. I didn`t get here till about 7, but it was real nice to go on a Shinkansen (bullet train) again, and this one was double-decker too. It was called the MAX 338, which sort of implies it can go 338 kph, but unlike the Korean ones they don`t tell you how fast you are going, though it was certainly very nippy. Great stuff these shinkansen, and always immaculately on time, its a shame our trains are so crap. I'm in another hotel with a 'cosy' room, but there are quite a few travellers in this one and it generally looks like a more fun area.

By the time I went out to eat it was very late and all the bars/restaurants appeared to be full of drunk versions of the Crazy 88 from Kill Bill 1, i.e. young salarymen/yakuza gangsters in suits with psychopathic personalities and samurai katanas (swords) concealed about their persons. This and the total Japanese-ness (including prices) of almost all menus was slightly offputting to my quest for sustenance. I did see an `Irish pub` on my travels with the most bizarre `Irish` menu, and finally ended up in what purported to be an American place, where I was given a meal with a knife and fork, which did feel a bit strange. Did you know that the Japanese throw away 150 million pairs of disposable chopsticks a day? A bit of bad news was that they can`t mend my laptop, or at least that's what I think the e-mail said.


They are very fond of jazz in Japan, which you hear a lot in restaurants and hotels, when they`re not playing classical music. It is very rare to hear any overtly Japanese music.

Today is a day of culture, i.e. museums, etc. So first I explored Ueno Park, which along with Ueno Station seems to be where the many homeless live, although being Japanese they are very well behaved. Then the Museum of Western Art, mostly French, some great stuff. Then I thought I`d walk the couple of kms. through Asakusa to get my laptop back from the repair place. Anyway, I went well wrong and it took two hours instead of 30 mins, so I got the underground back. And it has been very humid all day, as usual.

I thought I had best make use of my Japan Rail Pass - which I can use on the Tokyo equivalent of the Central Line - so I went to Rikugi-en Gardens, which were nice but not brilliant, although it was nice to see shoals of turtles looking for breadcrumbs as well as the usual huge, fat carp. Then it was back to Ueno Park to go to the National Museum, which had some superb art. And finally I went to Shinjuku (on a rush hour train which was fine!) to see the bright lights. Shinjuku station itself is enormous, reputedly the busiest station in the world, it has over 60 exits and was bedlam, but the area around it was great; neon, crowded, noisy, trendy people, etc. I got lost again and briefly ended up in the rather tame red-light district, and then still couldn`t find the intended restaurant, so I went to another place anyway (there`s certainly no shortage of places to eat in Tokyo, I`ve never seen so many).

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