Shrines, palaces and sunshine

I have no idea how it happened, but Monday’s all-day Noah-esque rainstorm melted into the (grim, dark, wet, windy) night and Tuesday dawned all bright, sunny and happy. So my Dude was literally no sooner awake than he was bundled into the buggy for another run.

We headed back to the Imperial Palace but diverted west to Yasakuni Shrine. It’s where they honour the war-dead. It’s a little of a political hot-potato for various reasons (see here). But it’s beautiful.

The entrance to Yasakuni
BIG gates
The Shrine itself

From there, we got slightly lost, but ended up running round the Imperial Palace as planned, this time in the wrong direction. Also this time, there were MANY more runners (I was about two hours later, jet lag, eh?) and they were all running anti-clockwise. So I still have no idea about the correct etiquette. But no-one yelled at me. It was a sunny day but cold and VERY windy, and the path is surprisingly hilly. At one point, the combination of tired legs, a hill and a headwind led me to walk a bit but the Dude shouted ‘Faster Mummy’ so off I headed. The nice thing about being so slow was that a few people lapped us once or twice. We do stand out, me and the Dude. I’m the only person I’ve seen running with a stroller. There are few Western runners and my orange and pink combo didn’t merge into the background. So those who lapped us recognised us and all waved or smiled or said hi. It was really sweet!!

This promised so much and delivered so little…for me, anyway!
Imperial Palace…sunshine 😉

Roughly 6 miles in 58 minutes.

That’s the running part of this post done…fancy some musings on Tokyo? From yesterday’s comments, it seems like you do. This world is SO new and so very different to what we’re used to – it’s been quite incredible. Things that have struck us are:

  1. The Japanese are so kind. So friendly and smiley. A cute boy helps but they are so kind.
  2. The women are SO chic. Either elegant or simply stylish, they put outfits together in a way this girl can only dream of. They love little skirts, often pleated, and always with boots. They look fabulous. I feel very scruffy and matronly.
  3. The Japanese are much taller than we expected.
  4. There are vending machines EVERYWHERE.
  5. It is spotlessly clean here, and people are scrupulously honest. Due to space constraints, we have ended up leaving the stroller outside restaurants and we don’t worry at all that things will be stolen. Such a lovely change.
  6. At 5pm every day, some music plays outside, a pretty little melody. Apparently it’s the same tune as used to play from shrines at the end of the working day in the fields, and the tradition continues. We love it.
  7. Masks are in. People wear masks all the time, even if they spoil those gorgeous outfits. And if you want to take them off temporarily, you move them down under your chin – like the opposite of wearing sunnies on your head. No-one seems to think this looks silly.
  8. Toilets. Oh amazing. They are heated, they play water when you sit on them to mask embarrassing sounds. Japanese loos are squat style…so far I have avoided peeing on myself.
  9. They have amazing car parks. They stack cars one on top of each other so as to maximise space and have turn-tables in the middle. The use of space is a big Japanese thing…they have sliding doors and screens, futons obviously fold up to give more space. It’s fascinating.
  10. I find restaraurants surprisingly intimidating. They are dimly lit so hard to suss out from outside. They seem full of lone men eating. It’s always in Japanese (naturally) so hard to order although the pictures or models of the food are incredibly helpful. But I’m surprised by how daunted I am at going into a Japanese restaurant especially when the Husband is working. Big Girl Pants, Cathryn!

And here are some snaps of some of the other things that we’ve loved so far! You said you wanted photos…I’ve gone a bit crazy. Too much?

I love these instructions on how to use their squat toilets
The Japanese love kitsch tat as much as I do.
Me, if I were a manga character and wasn’t a stay at home mum.
Energy drink. Appetising name, eh?
I love their graphics
No idea.
I love these Hollywood style Japanese film star hands
Bad photo…but elevated car parking. Love it!
I love my son doing ‘chizu’ with his fingers
Us at the amazing Senso-Ji shrine

13 Comments Add yours

  1. Jen says:

    Looks like a fabulous time so far! And I guess your shopping trip for internet cables was a success?

    1. Cathryn says:

      Yay!! My Japanese for ‘Mac Ethernet cable, kudasai’ was fluent and comprehensive!

  2. Nicole says:

    Hmmm… looks like the link goes to a picture of food, which looks delicious but I suspect isn’t what you intended. 🙂

    I’m super curious to know what the Japanese writing on that runner’s info sign says. I wonder how different Japanese running etiquette is from that in the US.

    1. Cathryn says:

      Thanks Nicole….no, it’s not controversial due to rice balls!! About that sign, I know…makes me wonder what I was doing wrong!

  3. Dang, you almost got some really good info! Do you want me to ask my sister to translate that? What if is says, “Whatever you do don’t run here!”?

    1. Cathryn says:

      Does she read kanji?? I am in awe! If so, yes please…I would love to know. I can always plead ignorance if it says something that doesn’t suit me.

      1. Yes, my sister does, but just a little. My brother-in-law is Japanese though (like grew up in Japan Japanese), so he’s pretty awesome at it.:) He said it says “follow the manners.” Or basically be courteous. So just ignore it — kidding, but they really might have different manners to follow.

      2. Cathryn says:

        They are much more polite than we westerners are, from what I’ve seen! Thanks for the translation…I shall continue to run politely!

  4. NIc J says:

    It looks amazing! It really looks like they’ve properly thought their society details through – running path guidelines (maybe it’s a hint about what direction to run in – clockwise on alternate days). Rummaged through the Japanese and Korean areas of the British Museum last time I was in London – fascinating culture and history to both!

    1. Cathryn says:

      Yeah, it’s a very polite place. Apparently it’s because everyone is so crammed into a small space that they have to get along…not a bad idea for the UK either! It’s incredible here…but a little overwhelming as well.

  5. Rebecca H says:

    Wow! Amazing pictures. I’d love to go there someday.


    1. Cathryn says:

      Thanks for your comment! It is quite amazing!!!!

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