SAKU AND SHINJUKU
Today we spend the day with my best mate and his wife, Marcin & Chie, in Saku then head to Tokyo before nightfall.
After last night’s late nightcap, we got up late this morning. In fact, just in time to checkout of our hotel, the Ueda Plaza. A small room but clean, comfortable and affordable. The hotel is also well located near the Ueda Train Station and centralised to, just about, everything else. We both wished we had more time to visit Ueda a little. Not just the city but it’s surroundings too. There’s so much to see here.
We caught the train to Sakudaira Station, the next stop on the line, to spend the early afternoon with Marcin & Chie. They picked us up from there and we drove through Saku city to the beautiful Pinkoro Jizo, the guardian deity of children. In general, Pinkoro Jizo means to wish for a long and healthy life with a quick and peaceful death. I wish for that. With a small Shinto Shrine and a couple of large Buddhist Temples, this place is beautiful, peaceful and fascinating. Very happy Chie brought us here.
As you walk out of the temple’s main gate there is a long, narrow pedestrian alley with one stall held my an elderly man. I could imagine this alley busy with stalls, people and festive on weekends or special days. The man was selling a lot of things but also did palm readings. My mate, who’s interested in that sort of thing, decided to get it done. It was a 30-40 minute reading that I won’t go into. Suffice to say, Marcin wasn’t too impressed.
On that same corner, is a restaurant specialising in carp, called Kagetsu. Cooked and prepared in different ways, it was an eye opener and a delight to the palette. No b-roll of the meal as I wanted to enjoy these last moments with my friends before heading off.
They dropped us back at Sakudaira Station where we caught a bullet train to Shinagawa Station in Tokyo then a local train to Shin-Okubo Station. Our hotel, the Shin-Okubo Sekitei, was only a ten minute walk from there. A Japanese-style Ryokan (Inn) with decos from the Showa era. Though the rooms are small and doorways low, they are very nice, comfortable, clean, inexpensive and well located. Great as a base to travel in and around Tokyo. It was perfect for us.
We dumping our luggage, freshened up and heading back to the train station. We got off a few stops farther at Shinjuku Station. From there we navigated the underground labyrinth to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building. This is the headquarters of the Government that governs all the towns, villages, cities and wards that make up the Tokyo Metropolis. It comprises of two high-rises, both with an observation deck. We were hoping to make it up there for, at least, blue hour but we almost gave up on the idea when we realised one of the decks was closed and saw the queue and bag search before getting into the elevator. To our surprise, they were very quick and efficient, and we arrived up there right on time. You are wowed as soon as you walk out of the elevator. An open, high ceiling room with a cafe and souvenir shop in the centre, and huge windows all around with magnificent cityscapes of Tokyo. I was so busy taking photos of the skyline that I forgot to take some b-roll of the interior. I tried a time-lapse but that didn’t turn out to well. Nonetheless, Tokyo’s Metropolitan Government Building is a must visit when in Japan. I highly recommend it.
We headed back to Shin-Okubo as there are a lot of places to eat and the hotel was only 5-10 minutes away. We had dinner at Tenkazushi, a small conveyor belt or sushi train restaurant. Fast, cheap and excellent quality. They have an English menu and very helpful staff. Oh and everyone says hello and goodbye. Everyone. Impossible to enter or leave discreetly. We loved this place.
OK my friends, that’s it for another day. Thank you for watching and hope to see on day 9. Oyasuminasai.