Catching up with posts (or trying to)

I’m now with my family, so posting very much retrospectively. I can’t really use the computer too much at home (rude) and the one at college is crap (slow) so excuse the short post with no pictures (yet). I was going to upload some, but thought I’d first get the ones up of my good friends wedding, however those eight photos have taken over twenty minutes.

Anyhow, day three…

Since it was Saturday, I knew the East Gardens at the Imperial Palace would be open so headed straight there to try and beat the weekend crowds. It was the hottest day in Tokyo so far – way hotter than any day we had in our English “Summer”, and almost too hot. I battled through, though. The gardens were amazing – the remnants of the palace walls were still there, consisting of huge stones weighing tens of tonnes. There were also a few guard houses that, in the days of old, were manned by the samurai who checked who was coming in (and, by all accounts, spied on their colleagues). There were moats, lawns, ponds and a section with trees to represent each of the 40-odd counties (I forget the actual name) in Japan. All in all, it was well worth the second attempt.

I left the palace and bought a vending machine ice-cream, hoping it would be some exotic and exciting flavour. No such luck – chocolate. It was, however, gooooood. Energy renewed, I went to the Yasakuni Shrine just up the road. There was a car boot sale going on in the driveway leading up to the entrance, however, as seems to be the case universally, they were selling complete tat. The shrine itself was pretty cool, although not as impressive as the Meiji or Asakusa ones.

The best bit were the gardens at the back, which contained three teahouses set around a carp-filled pond. There must have been some event on as there were lots of Japanese women dressed in kimono. It was probably the closest I’ve come to the view of Japan that you’d expect to see hundreds of years ago.

On the way out, there were two food stalls – one selling okonomiyaki – Japanese pancakes (along the lines of the ones they sell in Woo Jung – see post one) and the other selling takoyaki (balls made of pancake batter in little cup-shaped heated things with bits of octopus, ginger and, in this case, whole quails eggs in). I opted for the latter. They are served by the half dozen, brushed with tonkatsu sauce (like brown sauce), covered in mayo and sprinkled wih bonito flakes. Yum.

Next up was another failed attempt to find the fabled Royal Kudan Building that is my college. Fail Number Two.

Tail between legs, I walked over to the Kouraken Gardens which I had read were particularly beatiful, and also free of tourists (not that there are very many here). They were indeed beautful – very traditional and had areas based on other famous gardens and monuments, particularly from China, such as the full moon bridge (below) – so called because of the reflection the semi-circular bridge forms in the water.

Right next to the gardens is the Tokyo Dome – Tokyo’s biggest baseball stadium (the national sport here!). There happened to be a game on that day, and the cheers of tens of thousands of people echoed through the garden. As well as the stadium, there are bars, restaurants, shops and, in the middle of it all, several gigantic rollercoasters that go screaming through the complex every couple of seconds. Words really can’t express quite how spectacular it is.

After that, it was back to the ryokan for a 7-11 bento and an early night!

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