(Let me apologize for the huge gap in time between my last post and now.)
Sunday morning was here (the final day of my trip) and I woke up finding it very difficult to get out of bed. The alarm went off at 9am, and I forced myself to stay awake by turning on the TV. After a half hour, I finally dragged myself out of bed, got dressed and did the last bit of packing.
Then it was time to eat some breakfast. I brewed some coffee, via the instant drip coffee provided in the room, and ate the last of the yogurt with Frosties. And as I sat eating, I could see a ceremony (or performance involving drums) taking place on the street far below. I wish I had known about it, I would have tried to get up earlier to see it. Oh well.
With breakfast eaten, it was time to call home but it was now 10:50am and I had to checkout by 11am. So instead, I took a few last pictures of the room, bid it farewell and hurried to the elevators.
I checked out, left my luggage with the bellhop and found a quiet spot in the hotel lobby to call home. As we talked I decided that it was time to sample the Yamazaki brand Hot Cake Sand or ホットケーキサンド, that I had been carrying around since my visit to Koyasan six days earlier. Why I hadn’t eaten it yet I couldn’t really say.
I opened it up with great anticipation! What great deliciousness lay inside- butter and syrupy goodness perhaps? In fact…no, it was pretty terrible, no deliciousness at all. Maybe because it was three days a past it’s suggested freshness date? I doubt that, I think it would have been just as bad if I had eaten the day I bought it.
Anyhow, my call home ended and it was walk. My flight wasn’t leaving until 12:05 am (Sunday night/ Monday morning) so I was going to have a somewhat full day to roam the streets of Tokyo.
I took my time wandering through the small streets of Nishi-Shinjuku. After which, I caught the Yamanote line to Harajuku. My first destination of the day was Yoyogi park to watch the Rockabilly dancers strut their stuff.
When I arrived, I was greeted with a whole lot of not-much-going-on-yet. It seemed like they had just recently arrived themselves and were waiting for some more key players to arrive. So I took a seat on a bench and waited.
After a few minutes, a woman and her son came walking up and asked if they could share the bench with me. We struck up a conversation and it turns out they were Canadian and in Tokyo on vacation. She had worked in Tokyo in the late 1980’s to early 1990’s and this was the first time she had been back since. She talked a lot about how different it was and how being there with her son was a totally different experience. He was 17 and a big anime and photography fan. He and I talked about both but we all ended up talking more about the differences between the USA and Canada and how we are each (country) perceived in the world. It was a very nice conversation and great experience that lasted quite a while actually, as it took the dancing a long time to start. But finally it did, and it was grand.
After a short while, the action came to a pause and I took that as my cue to move on. I did my best to talk with one of the men (who I had seen here before a couple years back) and he insisted I take his photo, very cool.
I was then stopped by this awesome duo.
So, it was now about 2:30 and I couldn’t believe how fast the day was rolling by! I headed back to Harajuku Station to catch the train back up to Shinjuku. The walk back from the park was short, and I was surprised that there weren’t more people out performing, at least compared to the last time I was there.
This guy was into it though and was really great to listen to.
The window of a speeding train at Harajuku station.
Arriving back at Shinjuku station, I made my way out of the south exit and headed to the landmark Takashimaya department store. I wanted to spend some time wandering through the Kinokuniya bookstore and Tokyu Hands located inside.
However, before I did any shopping, I had to eat some lunch. I found the information for the restaurants and decided on tonkatsu (surprise). I caught the elevator up to the 13th floor and found myself quickly seated at my table at Inaba Kazuyuki (いなんば和幸). It was now 3pm and lunch took me about 45 minutes. It was delicious (but not as good as the KYK Tonkatsu in Kyoto). I think I need to come back and do a project on tonkatsu sometime…have I said that already?
Leaving the restaurant, I went straight down to the Kinokuniya bookstore, spending about an hour in there looking at photography books. Then it was over to Tokyu Hands where I spent about another hour wandering the floors. I found my big souvenir of the trip there, a bathroom cup that sits on a suction cup! My host family had one and I thought it was the best thing ever. When it was all said and done, it was about 5:45pm and my time was coming to a close in Tokyo.
Resigned to that fact, I started my walk back to the Keio Plaza. I crossed the connecting bridge that spanned the tracks of Shinjuku Station from Takashimaya to the other side so that I could grab a quick little snack (a donut from Krispy Kreme).
I spied the Narita Express on the tracks below (not sorry that I was missing out on the long ride to Narita Airport. Haneda forever!)
With my donut from Krisy Kreme in my camera bag, I walked to Koshu Kaido Avenue, turned left and headed back into Nishi-Shinjuku.
I walked past Yodobashi Camera and all the restaurants I never ate in, past the Lawson which kept me fed with breakfast and then through the doors of the Keio Plaza Hotel.
It was about 6:30 and at this point I was thinking about taking the train back to Haneda Airport (via the Yamanote line to Hamamatsucho and then the Monorail), repeating the original start of my trip. Maybe in hopes of making it feel like the trip wasn’t winding down just yet. But as I was walking into the lobby of the hotel, I ran into the nice married couple that I sat next to on my flight to Japan 11 days earlier (and who were also on the same flight back with me). They were taking the shuttle bus to Haneda, and after a bit of chatting with them, I realized just how tired my feet were and decided that the bus would be the best option for me as well.
So, I went and bought my ticket for the “Friendly Airport Limousine” bus and found myself with a little extra time to kill in the hotel. I took the escalator up to the second floor lobby area and found a quiet spot near a plug (so I could charge my phone) and ate my donut. Sitting there, I reflected back over my trip and what a great time it was. As always, too short. But, I knew I’d be back again some time…
Finally it was time to gather my things and get the bus. I put the rented wi-fi router in it’s return envelope, dropped it at the concierge desk, retrieved my suitcase and got on the bus. Next stop, Haneda…
(By the way, I rented the router from a great place in Tokyo that I found online called JCR Corporation– great customer service and price. I will use them again next time I am in Japan for sure. I am receiving no compensation from them for posting this, I just wanted to give them credit for the great service they provided me!)