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We flew into Narita airport yesterday evening after around 9 hours in the air.

Entry formalities went smoothly. Once we collected our pre-ordered pocket wifi device from the Post Office in Terminal 2, bought Suica cards for the subway, and purchased tickets for the Narita Express into Tokyo we were on our way into the city. It was raining as we emerged from the subway station in the Akasaka district for the directionally imperfect walk to our small but perfectly formed room, complete with pillow selection on your way up.

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We dropped into a busy local restaurant well after 9pm and enjoyed some warm food and a most convivial atmosphere (smokers notwithstanding) where noise levels happily rose with every entry and exit of customers. (We have actually come back tonight from a second visit to Youyusyonin).

 

 


The rain set in for a good part of today. No surprise, then, that our first purchase this morning was two umbrellas. Today’s destinations were the National Museum of Tokyo, Ochisnomizu Origami Kaikan and Fukugawa Fudo-do, all of which rate their own posts which will follow in due course.

At Ueno Station we had lunch at a soba noodle bar where you order your meal at the vending machine outside the restaurant.

 

We spent a good deal of time in the subway system today. Even during the busiest rush hour crushes, everyone is polite and helpful. Single lines to the left going up escalators assist fellow travellers rushing for a train. We had unsolicited offers of assistance with directions and have been made to feel welcome in every cafe and restaurant we’ve visited. I think we’re going to like it here.

Tuesday 24 April.

Yes. It’s the start of another trip. We’ll be spending five weeks in Japan, eleven days in Mongolia and a couple of days  in Beijing (as we head homewards) to see what’s changed since we were there in 1994. We’re topping and tailing the Japan chapter of this trip in the capital, Tokyo.

I’ve been hitting YouTube, language apps and books for the past few months so as to, hopefully, give us a head start on day-to-day communication and help with the recognition of traffic signs and the like.

As far as the blog goes, this time I’m taking my old iPad2 to which I’ve added a cheap and cheerful bluetooth keyboard. The Sony A6000 (loaded with some new apps to try) will be the camera of choice, with Snapseed as the editing tool. And I’ve packed a small sketch book and a few pencils and water brushes just in case. Time and fatigue levels allowing, an occasional haiku may appear.

See you tomorrow in Tokyo.

I have always loved big cities. You can get lost in them because of their size or you can get lost in them by being drawn into small pockets of the place that delight with amazing food choices or reveal stories of people who live or have lived in the place. You can wonder at the why of their establishment whether on historic river routes, strategic trade or defence sites or just by chance discoveries.

Taking photographs in cities can be tricky if you’re focusing on the decoration detail of a building or attempting to capture the large scale of a street scape. It is never dull.

Here is a selection of cityscapes (with additives via Grungetastic).

Seattle

Seattle transitTokyo

Tokyo - Ginza Station nightSalt Lake City

Salt Lake City - Feb 2012Prague

Czech Republic - Prague - views on walk to Prague Castle 2Vancouver 

Vancouver Art Gallery March 2012