The start of the neon dream…

I’m hungry, and that’s a real incentive to get this post nailed in 15 minutes. I even bought a beer along with my convenience store dinner (soba with some kind of fried vegetable fritter and a yakitori chicken thing).

Anyhow, today was my first full day in Tokyo. I started by buying a PassMo – the Tokyo Metro version of an Oyster card. Unfortunately it doesn’t give you the massive savings an Oyster does, but it does make you feel cool when you swipe through, just like an Oyster does.

Using my new-found coolness, I went straight to the Imperial Palace Gardens, which house a number of museums and galleries within the park area. Below is one of the main gates.

Unfortunately, the one gallery I would’ve gone to (Japanese crafts) was shut, as were the eastern gardens (see below), which are walled off seperately and house the interesting stuff. Bugger.Instead, I made Attempt Number One at finding my college in Jimbo Cho. Total fail. I did see some amazing cakes and a cool building though. And I stopped at a department store for a lunch of ten-don (tempura on rice with soya sauce).

Realing from my defeat by the crazy unmapped city of Tokyo, I jumped on the tube to Shibuya and wandered over to the Meiji Shrine and the park that surrounds it. I got totally lost (I blame the map – my sense of direction is exemplary) and took a detour via some funky shops at Harajuku and a park full of drunken tramps who I was impressed to see had built their own houses in amongst the city debris. Admitedly they were the kind of abodes you’d expect to see in a slum, but that kind of thing wouldn’t be allowed at all in London.

On the way to the shrine were the Meiji Jingu gardens. They were beautiful and chilled – originally built for the Emporers wife, presumably to stop her mooching around the house too much. Read about them in the photo below.

The main shrine was much more spacious and sedate than the Asakusa shrines yesterday:

There’re a number of other photos right here.

After leaving the temple, I decided I hadn’t done nearly enough walking for the day, so I headed up to Shinjuku, which I thought would be close but wasn’t really at all.

I walked past what I presume are the Communist Party headquarters (below). You’ve gotta admire their openness.

By the time I was ready to leave, the sun had set and the neon had been turned on. After walking a few more blocks I found myself in bright light and pachinko hell.

After dropping by one more food court (I couldn’t resist – it’s becoming a problem) I headed home for a dinner of meat and tofu to heal my aching muscles.

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