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2007年8月27日月曜日

Tokyo One

Senso-ji Temple Asakusa Tokyo
So we can have lots of images, this time around the slide shows are on flickr while the blog is on blogspot. This means we have essentially unlimited free image space and a quick flexible blogging facility.

Extended photoblog with many chapters:
We arrived at Narita airport after a 12 hour flight starting at 5.30 am and arriving at 4.45 pm local time (7.45 pm to us NZ time) to find it very hot and humid. We whisked through customs and immigration and figured out the cheapest way to get to our funky guest house Yoshida House way out the other side of Tokyo at was to take three trains. Firstly we took a Keisei limited express (the slowest and cheapest at Y1000) to Nippori interchanged to the JR Yamanote inner circle running to Ikebukuro where there was another crazy interchange, this time with no English titles to tell what we should do.

The ticket machine in Japanese with the hole in the wall

After bashing our heads against a brick wall trying to figure out the money machines, we noticed a red button with a little sign in English saying "Help" and pressed it. Almost immediately a head peered out through a little trap door and waved at the machine to put money in for two and press 230 which we did. Then there was the uncertain question whether this train would stop at Oizumi Gakuen, the little surburban stop where Yoshida was located.

When we arrived we found the little neighborhood didn't resemble anything the internet map said. But a kind young woman led us a block towards our destination, which began to make sense except the 7-11 was in the wrong place. Then another kind friendly Japanese man told us there were several 7-11s and sent us further towards our destination in the dark residential streets. Finall I began to explore up alleyways and finally stumbled on Yoshida House in the dark almost unable to be seen because it is so heavily covered in vegetation!

Yoshida House

This is a truly far out watering hole, frequented by long-term expatriates, which we discovered on the internet when our Japan Lonely Planet had only uncharacteristic upper class accommodation. We have a double bunk room for only Y3500 a night for both of us which is well under Tokyo rates. We get free air con, free internet and a kitchen we can use to cook for free. A washing machine we can pay for and the wonder of wonders, I tried out wireless on my laptop and have free international coverage from somewhere - goodness knows where, so using my computer is virtually as if I was sitting in the house at home.

Cos-Play Girls at Senso-ji

Yesterday we struggled back out through the metro and went to the Sensoji Temple in Asakusa. This takes three metro rides adding to Y580 each each way. If you want a comparison $1US is about Y116. The temple was full of Japanese tourists and also a very colourful throng of cos-play zoku girls or costume play gangs who are largely teenage girls and their boy friends from the suburaban gulags acting out their disphoria and love of visual pop groups creatively by donning rebellious suggestive costumes and wigs.

We ate noodles and walked miles through Ueno park to the Yanaka cemetry which was desolate and refreshingly wild. We descended through the railroad tracks to Nippori and struggled back totally overheated to our funky island of quiet sanity at Yoshida House.

We have managed to arrange a rental Kei van - a 660cc box van designed for confined Japanese conditions - a Daihatsu Hijet to pick up tomorrow, which is only about half the cost of a town ace or other small van we could use as a spontaneous camper. We plan to drive this into the mountains and north to Hokkaido. But there is an acquaintance here at Yoshida House who knows how to contact a firm that hires out vehicles destined for export because their insurance and warranty is a month short of expiry who may be able to get us a deal for only a fraction of the rental cost. This is part of the advantage of finding the funkiest place to stay in Tokyo, but we have to wait until tomorrow morning to see if this is a realizable option because the 70 year old proprietor is away today!

All the services here are very pricey and things like fruit are very expensive and of ridiculously flawless quality. I saw an apple for $4 the size of a small pumpkin and grapes that look like they were stage set models. However technological stuff and imported Chinese textiles are competitively cheap. There is almost no such thing as bread and butter and cheese although we have found how to find a Supermarket which has some small stocks.


Christine with Kashiwa San at Hiyoshi

Well the van is great. We had to rendezvous at a silver ball at Hyoshi station Kawasaki where an elderly but sprightly Japanese man appeared and took us to his little auto shop where we agreed to make a down payment for 87,000 yen and take the vehicle purely on he basis of a gentleman's agreement with no rental contract on the basis that we would confirm we had purchased the vehicle, if we were stopped. Kashiwa spoke no English and we spoke no Japanese, so all this was conveyed indirectly through our Italian friend by cell phone. Kashiwa politely explained that he had our Italian friend's bank account as a guarantee if we disappeared.

3 件のコメント:

Lauren さんのコメント...

I bet I'm one of the first ones to get that the link leading to this says 'comment'! (for other readers who see Japanese, it's the one down the bottom...) There is another link to the right of that little picture of you that says 'profile' and one above it in the top right corner that says 'blog archive'. But the page I see now is full of Slovak. Anyway, wow you got pictures of the cos-play gang! That was one of my main reasons for wanting to go to Tokyo but never made it there this time. I thought they were all around Harajuku station. I see the train ticket machines are the same as in Kyoto, confusing at first but very convenient once you've got them sussed. Your planned road trip through the mountains north sounds exciting. Can't wait to hear about it! Does the car have GPS in English? (most Kyoto ones are in Jap but with an English voice).

Lauren さんのコメント...

By the way that was me, Lauren, and at the moment I have no idea how this website automatically put my name with the posting. I haven't had to log in or anything.

Abigail Gonzalez さんのコメント...

What's up, well put together internet site you have going here.
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