MistyNites

My Life in Motion

Archive for the tag “shrine”

Kurama to Kibune

A short trip to the north of Kyoto brought me to one very angry face. As was often the case, the meaning was lost in translation, or rather there was no translation. Upon exiting the station at the small township of Kurama, I was met by a giant red head with a giant red nose, and was left a little bemused and bewildered by it. As unwelcoming as it seemed, Kurama was a lovely little quiet hamlet nestled among the trees and it was only a short walk around the corner to the entrance to the Kurama-dera temple where my hike was to begin. There had been several people get off the train with me with the same purpose in mind, but it didn’t take long to feel quite alone here and that was just how I liked it.

 

I ignored the cable car, opting to walk the entire route, and early on the trail through the property led up the hillside. The various shrines were an unusual shade of orange, almost bordering on peach, and every few steps in the lower portion were wooden torii gates marking the entrances to prayer areas or the next part of the trail. Snaking up the hillside, I passed an unusual sculpture known as the Monument of ‘Inochi’ which was close to the path leading to where the cable car stops. Beyond here, a series of steps led up the next section of the mountainside, lined with pretty vermillion lanterns. Like every day before, it was so hot and once again I was sweating buckets as I made my way through the trees. As the altitude continued to gain, a few breaks in the trees started to offer a little view out across the nearby tree-covered hillsides. Kyoto was not that far away but it might as well have been, as it felt so utterly natural and secluded there out in the forest.

 

The views eventually started to include rolling mountain tops further away and as I reached the flatness of the grounds of the main part of the temple, a bird of prey was spotted circling above me. The buildings were once again a peach-hued orange colour and statues abounded across the grounds. It was peaceful here, the perfect place to build a place of prayer. I set off back into the forest again and came across a giant bell which encouraged a prayer and then a ringing of the bell. I am not religious but it is not difficult to be overwhelmed by the serenity of many religious sites, so whilst I do not pray, I made an affirmation and rang the bell, the low drone echoing out into the trees.

 

At the summit, a gnarl of tree roots could be walked amongst before the trail started to descend past more Buddhist temples, eventually leading me down to another hamlet, Kibune. This place was adorable, the old-style buildings so charming. At the far end was Kibune shrine, another impressive-looking building guarded by vermillion lanterns and torii gates. At the top part of the shrine, there was a waterway where for a small fee you could purchase a prediction, a fortune that would be revealed in the water. It was a novelty but I took part, the water revealing the Japanese lettering, and a QR-code that took me to an English translation. At the time of visiting in October 2019, it was a little depressing to read and I dismissed it out of my head, but during the first COVID lockdown of 2020, I happened across the screenshot I’d captured of the translation and was dumbfounded. My future prediction read: ‘SICKNESS: Heavy sickness, have faith; DIRECTION:  Fortune favours all to the south; TRAVEL: You should practice restraint; STUDY: You are advised to calm your mind and study; BUSINESS: It may suddenly get worse; MOVING RESIDENCE: Postpone your move’. 3 months after my return home from Japan, COVID emerged and within a couple of months it was a pandemic, my country was in lockdown, and my trip home to see my family in Scotland had been cancelled. We have been exceptionally fortunate in New Zealand, down here in the Southern Hemisphere, and have escaped the worst of the mismanagement and farce that has befallen other countries, but still, many businesses have had to fold. As a result of not being able to travel abroad for the foreseeable future, I made the decision to return to university and get a post-graduate qualification. I also decided to buy a house but have been unable to due to a surge in the market. It was rather spooky to re-find this fortune and read it again with everything that happened over the first half of 2020.

 

After grabbing an early lunch in a deserted eatery, I walked back through Kibune and followed the course of the Kibune river as it flowed downhill, eventually bringing me to the Kibuneguchi train station at the confluence of the Kibune and Anba rivers. A bit of transport-hopping brought me to Ginkakujicho where I followed the Philosopher’s path (Tetsugaku no michi) south through the beautiful neighbourhoods. It skirted past many shrines, distinctive houses and some lovely artisan shops. There are simply so many temples and shrines around Japan, and with so many to visit, I had done some reading to pick a few that would hold my attention. Despite the heat, I followed the path for some distance before eventually arriving at Eikando Temple.

 

It was early autumn so there was the very start of some autumnal colours as I wandered round the grounds. At the back of the complex, some steps led up to a building from which there was a view across the rooftops of the nearby suburbs. The temple itself was simple and I was bemused by the sign warning about roaming monkeys, but it was the garden that captured my attention with a central group of ponds and a gorgeous butterfly that sunned itself on the stones at one end of the complex. As I walked around the ponds, I spotted a grey heron perched atop one of the trees, and with the sun casting down onto the water, the foliage was reflected on the still water. I’d seen photos of this place in full autumn changeover and can only imagine how stunning the place would have been in a few more weeks.

 

South from here was the grand Nanzenji Temple and the nearby Suirokaku water bridge. The crowds here were notable and the various trails around the concourse, as well as into the surrounding forest were busy with people posing for photos at every turn. The water bridge was impressive and so unexpected and the forest was lush but a little oppressive in the heat. Trails led up into the mountains but I went as far as a small waterfall before returning. Back in the temple grounds I went up to the viewing platform above the entrance gate where there was a view over the nearby temple and suburbs. The sun was already dropping low and I was keen to move on to my next destination before it got dark.

The sun was really low by the time I made it up to the viewing deck of the Kyoto Tower. The space here was cramped and the crowds increased as the sun set making for a rather unpleasant experience being shoved and squashed or blocked from being able to see as the light changed and the city lights came on. Compared to Tokyo, Kyoto is compact but it’s surrounded by mountains making for a beautiful setting. With the tower next to Kyoto station, I could watch the shinkansen come and go, zooming through the city as they left and entered. The crowds within the tower got no better so once the lights had gone out of the sky and it was fully dark, I headed down through the market at the base and into the station in search of dinner.

 

There was a light display on the steps as I headed up to one of the food courts where I squeezed into a small space inside a ramen house for some delicious food. Afterwards, I joined the gathering crowds at the bottom of the steps to watch the display which moved through Hallowe’en-themed images, traditional images, and tourist adverts as people ran up and down, posing for photos. I stayed through several cycles, enjoying the atmosphere before my weary legs dragged me back to my ryokan and a much-needed lie down.

A Walking Tour of Kyoto

It’s always hard to get your bearings when you arrive in a new place in darkness. By the time I arrived in Kyoto following my day hiking the Nakasendo, it was night time and with the early sunset, I had stepped out of Kyoto’s main train station into the dark of the night and almost immediately been faced with the bright glow of the Kyoto tower. As with Nagoya the night before, I had booked my accommodation at a place that on a map looked close enough, but in reality with my 10kg backpack on my back and tired legs, was further away than I’d wished for. Again I felt like I was disappearing into a non-descript part of the city but after 10 minutes I finally arrived at the cute little ryokan that was to be my home for the next few nights. After settling into my morgue-like hole in the wall where my mattress was, I headed out to get a much needed dinner. I was able to grab the last spot in a hip-looking bar-restaurant and asked for the chef’s recommendation. Out popped a plate of tasting skewers which I followed up with some Japanese style nachos. Satiated and tired, I headed back for a much-needed sleep ahead of a full day in the city.

I awoke to a bustling Kyoto and made my way to Kyoto station to jump on the JR line to Inari. The packed train should have given it away but when I reached my stop, there was a swarm of people on the platform making their way outside. I had read that it was best to get here early to beat the crowds but I had needed my sleep, so even although it was just after 9am, the place was mobbed. And with good reason. Fushimi Inari-Taisha is one of Kyoto’s most famous and most visited sights. I’d seen hundreds of photos of the famous vermillion torii gates that the place is famous for, but hadn’t really appreciated the extent of the place. Up an initial walkway, I was presented with a huge multi-story vermillion shrine beyond which were more similarly-styled traditional buildings. I was surprised on looking at a map just past there to find that the torii gates actually snaked all the way up a mountain and down again. I wasn’t completely sure that I had time to walk the entire route given everything else I wanted to see, especially as there was a queue just to get into the avenue of gates as so many people were already getting a head start on their Instagram photos by posing right at the entrance.

In the first avenue, walking was very much stop start as people kept abruptly stopping in front of you to pose for a photograph. The crowds here were a little irksome but thankfully the higher I went, the more the crowds dispersed. A decent proportion of the visitors were only walking the lower sections. In part this was because it had started to rain, and as I reached one of the level areas with one of the many shrines, the rain started bucketing down like a tropical storm and I was forced to wait under the tree foliage until it eased off a little. I still got quite wet climbing up to a lookout area where I could just make out the nearby suburbs of Kyoto through the mist. I’d already decided by this point that I was going to continue the whole loop, and as I continued to climb higher, eventually reaching the shrine at the summit, the gentle rain and the lack of people in this upper section meant it was a very peaceful place to be.

 

The trail plateaued for a little while, arcing round near the summit before starting a descent through another route. The drizzle continued as I walked but it was still a lovely place to walk through with the forest thicker and more natural on this side. There were also a few route options on the way down and I took a detour at one point to take a longer way down, eventually coming out at yet another shrine where I stopped for a matcha ice cream whilst watching some feral cats wander around. Finally the rain ceased and I was able to get out of my rain jacket which I was sweating in, and continue down the slope in a more comfortable fashion. Eventually circling back to the city view point I could see Kyoto a bit better now than I had on the way up so I paused a little to absorb the view.

 

I took an alternative route down, and at one of the lower shrines I bought a prayer cat, a small ceramic white cat that contained a prayer or fortune. There was a nice bonsai garden here, and after a brief look around, a short descent brought me to a side street with a cute little cafe where I stopped for a delicious lunch. Back through the main shrine at the bottom, I took a side street and found myself in a bustling market area where street vendors cooked fresh food and cute little shops sold all sorts of souvenirs. I was in heaven walking around shops full of Hello Kitty and Studio Ghibli souvenirs and the food looked and smelled delicious. Despite not being overly hungry, I bought a scrumptious sugary dough snack to indulge in as I walked around. By now a little after mid-day, it was time to head back to the city centre.

Kyoto station is a destination in itself. The building itself is grand but sticking only to the platforms misses the majority of its charms and nooks which are spread across the upper floors. From the main concourse I took the multi-leveled escalators up to the eastern end where there was a giant Lego version of the station and a few pieces of interactive artwork. The view out the window was straight across to the Kyoto Tower and nearby, a ‘floating’ walkway led all the way over to the western end of the station where the roof stopped and stairs led up to a rooftop garden and viewing area. It was still very overcast with the occasional drizzle stopping and starting but the architecture of the station building itself was the star of the show here with crazy arched roof sections and multiple levels leading down into the station proper.

North of the station and a relatively short walk past the Kyoto Tower was the Higashi-Honganji Temple. This huge brown temple was one of the biggest I’d seen so far in Japan and although a few coachloads appeared as I arrived, the concourse was so vast it didn’t feel crowded in the slightest. Unfortunately the rain came back heavy again and I had to stand under the shelter by the cleansing fountain until it passed. This fountain was stunningly ornate and as is often the case, was in the form of a dragon. I’d already seen several dragon fountains on my travels but this one was the most beautiful. The temple itself didn’t hold my attention for long so once the rain finally eased enough to move onwards, I left the grounds behind and followed the perimeter wall north and then west.

 

A few blocks over and across a main road was Ryukokuzan Hongan-Ji-Nishi-Hongan-Ji Temple, another huge and dark brown elongated building within another elaborate wall. I didn’t stay here for long, just enough to take in the buildings and the grounds before heading north. I should have caught a bus, but I stubbornly opted to walk what turned out to be a rather long way with tired legs. I followed the side of the main road heading for Nijo Castle, but I got sidetracked by an enclosed market that spread for several blocks away from where I was heading. I found a delicious donut stall that sold creme brulee donuts, and enjoyed having a nosy at the shops and their wares as well as the various food stalls.

As it transpired, by the time I limped my way to Nijo castle which was another couple of blocks to the north, there was only half an hour until its rather early closure of 4pm, and I had just made it to gain the last entry slot of the day. A giant gold-guilded entry gate greeted me into the complex where the large exterior of the palace building stood dramatically in front of me. Inside, I walked the halls around the palace rooms, so very different to any European palace I’d ever visited. The pictures on the walls were intricate and exquisite, the styles varying dependent on the intended use or occupant for the room. Outside, the gardens looped past a series of ponds before crossing a broad moat to the Honmaru Palace which was sadly under industrial wraps as it was being restored. Within the compound though it was possible to climb up the tall and thick stone wall to get a raised view over the area. The masonry was incredible, the stonework tightly packed to form imposing defensive structures. Once across the moat once more, the trail circled back around the northern aspect of the premises, following the moat past a series of gardens to reach the entrance in time for closure.

 

The sun was getting low as I stepped out the station and made my way into the Gion district. I had a recommended walking route on my phone to catch the highlights, and I passed the little blue post office and distinctive facade of a large theatre before joining the immense crowds that were squeezing their way along the busy sidewalks. The main street was a mass of eateries and souvenir shops, with geisha-themed objects on display everywhere and people littering the margins taking photographs of everything and anything. It was an assault on the senses. I, like so many others, turned onto the historic street of Hanamikoji which was lined with traditional buildings. I eyed up the menus as I went, sussing out my dinner spot for later. Near the bottom end of the street was another huge and ornate theatre, beyond which I cut up another road to Yasui Konpiragu shrine where there is a large wishing stone, before heading back down and into the larger Kenninji temple. It was really beginning to darken now as I wandered round the grounds here. The sun had set and the remaining light was turning the sky purple. Little twinkling lights lit up a myriad of lanterns and the bugs began to come out.

 

Night brought a desire to eat, and I’d found the perfect place to circle back to where I had an awesome platter of yakatori, tempura and miso soup, all washed down with an Asahi beer. I love tempura and hadn’t had much of it yet on my travels, so it was a nice change. Once full, it was time to brave the Gion crowds again as I headed back to the main street. I followed the canal for a while before sticking to the main street, popping into sweet shops to get some local delicacies for later. Finally I reached Yasaka shrine which even in the darkness was a very bright orange colour. The grounds were open to wander through even at night, and there were plenty of lanterns lighting up the place. I spotted the moon shining brightly above one of the buildings at the same time as a Japanese man did. I waited patiently as he got his wife to pose whilst he took some photographs of her standing next to the orange building below the moon. He approached me and asked if I could take a photo of both of them to which I agreed. He lined it up and asked me to replicate which I did and then I did my usual thing when I’m asked to take photos of people, which is to take a couple of extra ones framed differently so they have choice. But the minute I started to do this, the guy started yelling at me, complaining that it wasn’t the view he wanted and insisting that I only took the framing he’d requested. I was both bemused and dumbfounded. I’ve never been told off before when doing a favour of playing photographer, and I sheepishly handed the camera back and waited for them to leave before I could take my own photos.

 

Despite my aching feet, I walked all the way back down Gion’s main street and across the broad Kamo river to reach Poncho Alley. A back street filled with eateries, and more traditional buildings, it took only a few minutes to walk the length of it. As I had already eaten, there was little more to hold me here, so I decided it was time to head back to my ryokan. As I walked past the large shopping malls, I was tempted by a beautiful little patisserie, grabbing a delicious chocolate dessert to take back with me.

I was frustrated at how long it took for my bus to arrive. The transport system in Japan is generally faultless but my tired body just wanted to collapse in a heap. When finally it deposited me close to my accommodation and I dragged myself into the ryokan, it was over 12hrs since I’d left it that morning. Every single day of my time in Japan I’d walked so much. Even with exceptionally comfortable trainers, the heat and amount of walking was leaving me with swollen painful legs and feet that were barely better by the morning. As I lay my head on my mattress, the throbbing was intense, but yet again I had a full day of walking ahead of me the next day.

Tokyo Delights

I might be a bit spoiled for good coffee in New Zealand, so I’m often left disappointed when I’m desperate for a good brew abroad. The coffee in Tokyo hadn’t thrilled me so far, but that didn’t stop me parking up in a cafe in Shibuya on my last day in Tokyo to have breakfast. My legs were still a bit achy from being on my feet for 14hrs the day before, but that wasn’t going to stop me from another day of traipsing the streets of one of the World’s largest cities. Just down the road from the cafe was the infamous Shibuya crossing, the World’s busiest pedestrian crossing. Rush hour had passed but there was still plenty of activity with people regularly piling out of the train station and jostling across every time the traffic halted. It drew quite a crowd of onlookers, and I joined them initially before wandering around to look at the Shiba Inu artwork on the station wall and the dog statue in the square. I’m not entirely sure what the significance of the dog statue was but it seemed to be rather revered.

 

When it was time to cross myself, I got swallowed up by the masses that crossed with me but what I couldn’t believe was the amount of people that would stop in the middle of the crossing to get their photograph taken. And it wasn’t tourists. It appeared to be locals on proper photo shoots. I’m not sure if they were modelling clothes or something else but it was intriguing and astounding in equal measure. The people were never fully finished crossing when the traffic lights turned green again so the vehicles would just start to push through the stragglers. It almost seemed like a well-orchestrated dance move that everyone was unwittingly taking part in. I guided myself on a walking tour of the Shibuya streets. I could just imagine what this place would be like at night all lit up, but the businesses didn’t really interest me during the day time. There were signs confronting me everywhere I went though, and after to-ing and fro-ing through the neighbourhood I eventually found myself back at the junction.

It was a short train ride to Harajuku station to visit Meiji Jingu. Once out of the station, I headed into the expansive park and was swiftly greeted by a gigantic torii gate. It was a lovely tree lined walk from there past beautifully decorated saki barrels and more torii gates to the shrine itself which was a hive of activity. Locals and tourists alike mingled together as people gave thanks and prayer either within the halls of the shrine itself or on the prayer walls outside. Without fully understanding the culture, it could be easy to get ‘shrined-out’ in Japan – the amount of shrines around the country is incredible, and I made a point of limiting my visits to them so as not to get complacent or bored with them. But here, I did get a little caught up with the vibe of the place and it was quite humbling as I found myself becoming introspective and silently taking stock of where I was. I even bought a wooden prayer piece to hang by the prayer tree with my wish for my friends and family.

 

There was so much to look at on site, with little interesting pieces of detail on the buildings themselves and strung round the trees. At one point a stir went through the gathered crowd and what looked like a wedding party appeared: a group of people in traditional dress accompanying what I think was a bride. They garnered quite an audience because of their garb and I felt quite sorry for them as loads of strangers rudely started taking their picture without even stopping to think whether it was appropriate or not. I watched them pass, the gathered audience dispersing shortly after and I headed out the side entrance of Meiji Jingu to walk the quieter path through the trees back to the entrance.

 

Almost directly opposite was a broad tree-lined dual carriageway that cut deep into the city again, leading me back to suburbia. Just one block down there was a mall with a striking mirrored frontage, escalators leading up into it from where I wound my way up to the Starbucks on the roof to take a look from the rooftop terrace. Although it’s probably more polite to purchase something while you are there, it is actually possible to just go up and visit the terrace without spending money, and from there I could see down to the hustle and bustle below. It wasn’t as dramatic as the traffic and people of Shibuya Crossing but it was still a nice perspective of the streets immediately around.

 

Another part-block down the road I found myself at Cat Street, a quaint street full of boutique shops and eateries. It was a mix of architecturally eclectic buildings and unlike anywhere else in the city, there was a gorgeous historic-looking brick building. I felt a little self-conscious in my clothes wandering through there, and having planned on eating here, I couldn’t find anywhere that looked like it had space or was affordable. I spied some funky street art on the wall as I walked and before I knew it I was at the far end of the street. I could see on Google Maps I was within walking distance of Shibuya Crossing having almost completed a large circle, and I was once again very grateful to have organised a pocket wifi unit to allow me to access the Internet on the move. It had been essential to me navigating my way through this immense metropolis. I happened upon a lovely place to have lunch as I continued and devoured a huge meal and plenty of drinks to balance out the amount of walking I was doing.

 

I’d read about a rooftop area above Shibuya Crossing which I was keen to get up to but found it a little confusing to work out how to get there. Eventually I worked out that I had to go into the department store type building directly opposite the main station entrance then head up to the food court. Even there the sign wasn’t immediately obvious but at the far side of a burger joint, a heavy door led outside to a metal staircase that led up to the roof. A machine released a token on paying the entrance fee, and then I was able to pass through the barrier and look down on the busy crossing below. It would no doubt be more impressive at night time but I also suspect the viewing area would very busy at night also. As it was, I just had to share it with 2 couples and we took our turns to stand in the prime spot and watch the dance of traffic and humans.

 

Floor by floor I headed downstairs through the department store, briefly mulling over the Japanese fashions, the weird mannequins and pop-culture shops. On the ground floor I popped out in a Hello Kitty store and couldn’t help but purchase a small kimono-wearing plushie. I don’t usually buy much more than fridge magnets when I go abroad, but Japan has such quirky and World-famous pop-cultures that it was really difficult not to buy a few extra souvenirs. I’d already bought a Totoro plushie at the Ghibli Museum, so even though I was 36 at the time, I bought it a friend. I’m still waiting to reach the age where I outgrow buying soft toys. I burst back out into the sunlight, purchase in hand and crossed the Shibuya Crossing yet again to head back into the large and bustling train station.

 

I cut across the city to Roppongi to visit the Tokyo City View and Sky Deck. There is no shortage of observatories in the city, and as I couldn’t visit them all, I decided that I’d rather have a view of the Eiffel-Tower-like Tokyo Tower rather than actually go up, and its distinctive orange colour made it an awesome building to witness on the skyline. I had arrived at the City View a little before 3pm and it was a gorgeous sunny afternoon. This particular observation tower has an inside viewing area with floor to ceiling glass windows, and an outdoor viewing area on the helipad on the roof. I’d highly recommend getting the ticket for both. I took my time enjoying the view from the comfort of indoors. I really loved the view from here and far preferred it to that from the Tokyo Skytree. The view south-west was hazy and I squinted my eyes in an effort to make out the distant peak of Mt Fuji, the country’s tallest mountain.

By the time I’d done the full circumference of the building inside, I found myself at a cool little self-service coffee station. Little pods of filter coffee of varying strengths, tastes and origins sat within gumball-type machines which could be purchased with a coin. Then you could watch the machine filter it through into your cup. It was a novelty that I took full advantage of, despite normally only having 1 coffee a day and having already had a disappointing one at breakfast. This turned out to be the best coffee I had in Japan, and I parked up at a bench with a window view of Mt Fuji to enjoy it. Afterwards I did another full circuit of the viewing area before cutting into the middle of the tower to reach the escalator up to the roof.

The rooftop is completely exposed and as such you have to lock all your belongings away in lockers, taking only the bare minimum with you and only what you can wear or attach to yourself. When I stepped outside onto the platform and realised the angle of the sun was getting low, and the shadows were stretching out, I quickly came to the conclusion that I wanted to stay here till sunset. I didn’t care about going anywhere else that evening, I didn’t care that this meant spending multiple hours here, and I didn’t care that this was to be the last of my daytime sight seeing. This was the place to be. As the sun continued to lower I had an uninterrupted view of Mt Fuji which was now much clearer on the horizon. A wisp of cloud hung around its midriff just like I’d seen from Kawaguchiko a few days prior.

 

As the sun lowered, the sky turned from blue to peach then yellow. The shadows grew ever longer until the sun finally dropped below the line of cloud that sat above the hills on the horizon. The peach returned in the sky and then it deepened to purple as the sun sunk further to the west. I couldn’t stand still, there was so much to look at in every direction as the colour palette changed and the moon crept higher and the city lights blinked on below me. Mt Fuji dominated the horizon to the south-west, remaining visible as a silhouette for a long time. As the colours faded to black, the Tokyo Tower showed its true colours. It simply glowed orange, a beautiful beacon on the city skyline and I couldn’t get enough of it, photographing it repetitively from every possible angle and frame. I spent about 2hrs on the roof before I could tear myself away and head back down.

 

I had one last experience to have in Tokyo before leaving it behind the next morning, and that was to experience Shibuya at night. I retraced my steps on the metro system to the huge Shibuya station and as I crossed the pedestrian bridge within the station which has a large window looking out onto the crossing itself, I couldn’t believe my eyes. The square below was absolutely mobbed. By now 7pm I was amidst the commuters heading home at rush hour, ever watched by the throngs of tourists that had descended on the place. It was standing room only and once outside myself, I struggled to move through the crowds, eager like everyone else to get a vantage point of what turned out to be utter madness when the pedestrian lights turned green. The people moved in giant waves, and with four points to the crossing it seemed inevitable that people would get swept in the wrong direction, but somehow it just worked. I finally was able to hop up onto a low wall to watch the chaos enfold in front of me.

 

Once in the maze of bright lights of Shibuya I was again struck by the constant noise and brightness of the night here. The sensory stimulation was insane and I was torn between following my stomach and wanting to just watch the city life play out in front of me. I found a cute little place to have delicious ramen, one of my favourite Japanese dishes, and one which was readily available throughout the country, and once satiated I headed back out onto the streets once more. I played a bit more in one of the many arcade halls that litter the city, feeling joyful and stress free like a little kid. Eventually it all just got a bit too much, and nearly 12hrs after I’d left the hotel that morning, and once more with pained swollen feet and legs, it was time to limp my way back to my bed. I could easily justify many return trips to Tokyo to see more but I was satisfied with my attempt to do the city justice on my first visit. But all good things come to an end, and as there is so much more to Japan than its biggest city, it was time to move on.

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