I woke up at a jet-lagged 4:45am. The sun was just coming up, the air was warm, so I went for a run, and I saw the people that are normally up and about at 5am, enjoying their gentle morning walks. The crane in the river, the woman leaving the cemetery and bowing at the exit. What compels the morning?
By 6:30 I had showered, eaten breakfast, packed, and caught my bus to begin my journey to Tokyo. Today was a travel day, paid for by the organizer of these concerts. We had to get to Tokyo by some means, but the day was ours and a hotel waited for us from 2pm. So I Shinkansened to Tokyo, one of my favorite things to do in Japan, watching the rice paddies and cities speed by through a window attended by a sleepy gentlemen.
I had decided to go to Ueno Park. It's very famous (a bit like New York's Central Park) and I'd never been before and there are lots of museums there and the weather was beautiful. All great reasons to go. So I went.
And here are some pictures from the day.
It's Golden Week which means everyone in Japan is on vacation. It's even more crowded than usual. Above, people wait in line to get through the Shinkansen gate with station employees directing through megaphones.
Part of Ueno Park, near the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Art
"Please wait here in four rows till then." Obedience.
Universal fascination, Chicago to Tokyo and back
Combined old and new building for the sake of the International Children's Library, an intriguing walk through of the history of the children's book in Japan, including a Japanese version of Frog and Toad. And in the downstairs reading room was a section of American children's books most of which were favorites from my childhood: Owl at Home, Mike Mulligan, Blueberries for Sal, Doctor DeSoto, and so many others. Wonderful to see that they found a home here.
The museums I had intended to visit were all very expensive for highly specialized exhibits in which I had no interest. It was an easy choice to make. While I failed to find a satisfactory lunch for two hours, I happened upon Ameyayokocho which was a lively market filled with many sounds and spicy smells. I got some pineapple on a stick and kept walking.
And then back into the park for more views, here from Kiyomizudo (modelled after Kiyomizudera in Kyoto) looking to Bentendo in the pond through a coerced tree
After Ueno Park I realized that although I had been to Shinjuku, I'd never been to that famous park. So I got on the subway and headed there for more green. Shinjuku is interesting in that it has several styles within it. For ¥200 you can choose to stroll through the Japanese gardens, or the French or the English, walk through the wooded areas, or just lounge in the huge open spaces.
Enjoying the woods
View of the Japanese area
Azalea Hill; Alice in Wonderland
Park in the city
I was outside for so much of the day, and it was wonderful to be so on a day so beautiful. I made my way to the hotel and found a large room waiting for me, with a small balcony in the trees.