I was free to play tourist today, so I began in the Jimbocho district where my conference hotel was centered.
My first stop was within walking distance, so I grabbed a water from one of the vending machines that occupy every corner of Tokyo.
(It turned out to be apple-favored…one of the perils of not reading Japanese.)
I don’t know who this guy is, but he must be a pretty big deal. His face was plastered on every other building along my walk.
He’s cute. Love the bangs, too.
Most tourists visit Japan in spring or fall; now I understand why. I didn’t have a long walk, but even in the early morning hours, temperatures were in the 90’s with staggering humidity. I quickly adopted the Japanese practice of walking with an umbrella. It really helps.
My first stop was the Koishikawa Korakuen, a 70,000 square meter formal garden.
This guy was the first to greet me along the stone pathways. It was ten degrees cooler inside the garden, so I was glad I took my guidebook’s recommendation to come early in the day, before the noise from nearby Tokyo Dome (baseball and amusement park) could be heard.
You can see the Dome in the background of this shot of a lily pond.
When I first came upon it, I thought a spaceship was hovering nearby. It was very surreal.
After I left the garden, I decided to take a peek at the Tokyo Dome grounds.
There was an 11 a.m. baseball game, and fans were already streaming into the grounds. I got a better look at the roller coaster, but was particularly fascinated by a sculpture near the entrance to the park.
I couldn’t find a placard with an explanation for the sculpture. So, let’s take the highroad and say it is some kind of flower.
Or sea creature.
Or water faucet.
It’s hard to un-see it, I know that.
On my walk back, I checked out some of the used bookstores that line the streets of Jimbocho, which is considered the center of book publishing in Tokyo. Then I stopped by the hotel to make a complete clothing change — totally necessary — before heading to the Marunouchi District.
The Imperial Palace was just a couple of blocks from my hotel, so I walked along it’s enormous moat — with many brave people jogging in the heat — then headed into the business district for lunch.
Next on my list was the Nihombashi Bridge, which is the geographic center of the city. Based on everything I had seen so far, I was expecting the bridge to be on the same scale.
But the ancient passageway is small and rather understated; I don’t know that I would have noticed it unless I was looking for it.
The expressway overhead plays a big part in that. It casts a long shadow.
Even smaller but oh so colorful was the Kite Museum down the street, devoted to the Edo-dako style kite.
I entered here out of curiosity, but stayed a good long time (and not because it was air-conditioned).
The kites were really beautiful art pieces, displayed as kites, framed under glass, and covering the walls and ceilings.
I moved to a hotel in the Roppingi district in the late afternoon and treated myself to an unexpected but thoroughly enjoyable four-hour nap!
I am refreshed and ready for tomorrow’s adventures in Tokyo.