We are heading into the home stretch now for this blog series. The very last day in Tokyo. Sad to think that all good holidays must come to an end. Even in recounting them. Fear not. I still have plenty to say on the subject. Of course I do! Meanwhile here at home in Melbourne, we are nearing the end of winter. It feels like it has been a particularly cold season compared to recent years. Thankfully, we are starting to get more days with blue skies and warmer mornings. Anyway, on with the blog where the day was hot and sunny!
Thursday 30 May 2019 – Morning
Unfortunately, this is my last day in Japan for this trip. I always find the last day the hardest as I feel a sense of panic for the things I have not done. But, I am feeling equally tired and footsore. Still, I have some regrets about things I didn’t get to. But there is no point hanging on to those. And I always say that you could spend months exploring a city like Tokyo and still have a list of things you missed. So we’ll just have to park those for another time in the future if I am lucky enough to come back again. I had set the bar pretty high in terms of my to-do and must-see lists. But with my sore feet, I was happy with what I have been able to achieve. Plus, I feel pretty tired yet relaxed. Not exhausted.
Besides all that, I miss my kids. I am looking forward to getting home to them and giving them lots of cuddles and attention. Finding out more about what they got up to during their week. I had spoken to them a couple of times during the week, but it was pretty limited. I have a few treats for them each. My youngest said he wanted anything (or everything) Pokemon. Fortunately for me, Japan is the home of Pokemon, and there was Pokemon stuff everywhere. There is even a Pokemon Centre (a giant Pokemon experience store) at the Narita Airport. As for the older two, knowing I was on a budget, they asked for Japanese candy. Earlier in the week, I had visited a Don Quijote store in Shibuya. It is a discount store with lots and lots of candy. A whole floor dedicated to it. So I have lots of that in my suitcase.
I woke reasonably early and took the time to carefully pack my case and my camera bag. I had a long day ahead before my flight, and I wanted to be strategic about where I left my luggage and what I chose to carry with me for the remainder of the day. Obviously, I didn’t want to lug my case around with me the whole day. I checked out of my hotel room and left my suitcase with them to pick up later in the day. I didn’t feel like the hotel breakfast as I was feeling a bit over them. I took a short walk around the corner from my hotel, and I found a Starbucks with a big seating area. I ordered myself a matcha frap on ice and a toasted sandwich. Both were delicious.
An interesting side observation. Beer delivery happens all day and all night in inner Tokyo. I noticed last night while sitting in the bar that all-around men and women with handcarts stacked with crates and kegs of beer. They were going in and out of the restaurants and bars. Taking in the full boxes and taking out the empty ones. Constantly refreshing their supplies. Sitting here in Starbucks, I can see them running around all over the place. Japan must consume a crazy amount of beer. Or it is that the restaurants don’t have a lot of storage space and need a small constant flow from the delivery people. Either way, I see beer everywhere.
While sitting in Starbucks and sipping my matcha so as not to get a brain freeze, I planned my last day. My flight tonight is at 9:05pm. I will aim to be at Narita Airport by around 6pm. So I have to get a Narita Express train around 5 as it takes an hour. The Narita express leaves from Shibuya or Shinjuku, and that is every thirty minutes. So I need to leave time to get back to my hotel, get my case, get to Asakusa station and train to either Shinjuku or Shibuya. If I get to either early, it is no big deal. I could always drop my case in a locker at the station and explore a bit more. I did that when I travelled to Osaka and Kyoto back in 2016. I put my case into a storage locker at Osaka Station for the day until it was time to catch the train to the airport. Very safe and secure. And it freed me up to explore more while I had the chance.
I took a long slow stroll around the outside of the Senso-Ji temple grounds again as the light was perfect. Perfect blue skies and a day that was not as hot as the rest of the week had been. I had been fortunate with the weather. On average, 30 degrees every day but hardly any humidity. On past trips, when I travelled during summer, the humidity had been crippling. I walked around all the side streets I had explored at night to get a different view and scene. It was around 10am and starting to get busy with lots and lots of school groups visiting the area. Inside the temple grounds, it was quickly becoming congested and especially along Nikamise Shopping Street. It is such a tourist hot spot with lots of souvenir shops and street food on offer. I walked a side street, one over from the Nikamise Shopping Street and found some excellent last-minute gifts for my parents and sister. Fridge magnets and little trinkets like that. I then walked along Kaminarimon Street towards Asakusa Station. I stayed on this path to cross the Sumida River. On the far bank is the Asahi Building – an architectural delight to behold. Words don’t do it justice, but the pictures will. The building is mostly their head office with one noticeable difference. It has a beer hall. Well, they call it a beer hall but it is really just a restaurant and not a huge space. I stopped here for lunch and a refreshing beer – It is the Asahi Beer Hall after all. They had two options – one was a buffet with a salad and entree bar. The other was to order a set meal from the menu. I went for the set menu option. It was great food and an excellent selection of beers too.
After a big hearty lunch with beer, I find myself feeling quite tired and wishing I could curl up somewhere for a little nap. I wish my flight was not so late or so far away in terms of time. I feel ready to get going, but my flight does not leave for 9 hours. I decided that I will take my time looking around Asakusa and then getting my case from my hotel, etc. I spent a while longer in the Asahi Beer Hall and had another excellent beer. Aesthetically it is pretty unimpressive inside. It is a modern building – stunning on the inside – but the restaurant has stylish curves and materials along with the old wooden tables and serving areas. Japan is a world of contrasts, but sometimes it is baffling.
All images were taken with the Fujifilm X70.