Gardens, bears and a new crash pad!

Well we are safely ensconsed in our new pad. It’s small but everything is tiny in Tokyo and after our tiny (but lovely) hotel room, it feels like a football pitch…it’s amazing what you get used to. We are all internetted up – I was surprised at how uncomfortable I was without internet, not just for blogging etc but for being in contact with the world. I am dependent, I regret to tell you.

I also regret to tell you that our flat does not have a heated toilet seat.

Here is our new place.

The sleeping area
The living area

Our new place is a few miles from the hotel but the differences are palpable. More residential, less restauranty. It is really close to Ueno Park which is partly why we chose it. And on Thursday morning (we were awake at 4am again), once it was a decent hour, I left my boys in the house and went for an exploratory run.

It didn’t take long. Ueno Park is relatively small…I think I ran about four miles in 36 minutes. Maybe I ran 3 1/2. This park didn’t have many joggers – instead I passed lots of older people in tracksuits out walking in the morning. The park is split into two halves. The lower half is a big lake, with enormous lotus pads (alas dead) covering half of it, they are amazing. There is also a mini boating lake with swan boats, and a shrine in the middle. Then there’s the hilly, wooded side to the park which was beautiful. I ran up two flights of steps to get there (cue Rocky music). On the second flight, I happened to be running up parallel to an older Japanese gentleman. What started as coincidence became a friendly race to the top. We got to the top, he burst out laughing and I gave him a high five. And then he had a heart attack  we ran on. We passed each other later and waved. It was most pally.

I cruised around the wood paths for a while, they were lovely, and then came down to ground level. One more loop of the lotus pads and a dash home to relieve my babysitter. Not a bad run. Need to work out how to stretch it a little longer.

Let’s run past a shrine this moring
Even got a runner in the shot for you
I think these are prayers…I need to find out
Up in the wooded hill section
Back around the lake and lotus pads in the morning sunshine
More runners info for me.
Still clueless

What else have we been doing in Tokyo in the past few days?

The most spectacular colours in a garden

Utterly beautiful Polar Bear swimming at Ueno zoo
My first Panda bear ever. So excited.
Doing chizu is strangely infectious!
A snowy Monet at the Museum of Western Art
Night lights at Ueno
A gorgeous wedding at Meiji Jingu. I got VERY excited.
We got festive outside a swanky shopping gallery
Laundry is VERY difficult here!

Things that have struck me in the past few days.

* Bare skin is in. Despite the cold, many girls wear tiny skirts, knee-length socks…and bare legs. I have no idea how they do it.

* Vending machines…they’re everywhere but they don’t sell  the right things. They sell sweetened coffee drinks, soft drinks, beer, cigarerettes…but no wine and no tampons. Thanks, Japan.

* Children are beautiful, beautifully dressed, beautifully behaved and VERY quiet. My son is beautiful but none of the others. He’s a good boy, don’t get me wrong, but he seems very loud. No children sing as they walk along with their mums either.

* Numbers are shown in our numbering system…ie…not kanji. I am deeply grateful for this.

This place continues to blow me away. The immediate culture shock has faded a little but it’s just so different to anything I’ve ever seen before. It’s not a pretty city – the buildings aren’t attractive and there’s no particular style of architecture that I’ve seen. But it has a vibe and a buzz that is really exciting. Today (Friday) had some trials that left me tense, grumpy and maybe a tad snappy…but this opportunity to spend time in this amazing place is something I’m making the most of.

8 Comments Add yours

  1. Jen says:

    You are right — the two photos you’ve posted and thought were prayers are prayers (the pieces of paper tied around the string, and the wooden cutouts). The sign about the runners looks like just a history of the park (that’s what I can gather from the Kanji). I loved the story about the older gentleman whom you high-fived atop the stairs!

    1. Cathryn says:

      I am in awe of the Kanji reading. And thanks for the prayer info…the wooded cut outs are beautiful!

  2. Good luck with the laundry machine!

  3. Cathryn says:

    Thank you! Cracked it in the end, thanks to an online translation we found! Phew. Clean clothes are GOOD!

  4. Bean says:

    That is a tiny space to live in but looks perfect for a short stay. I love the wedding shot. That is so neat you got to see that! I can imagine being is such a different place would be a little stressful but seems like you are handling it in stride!

    1. Cathryn says:

      I was SO excited to see the wedding! And yes, Friday’s difficulties are better now and we’re on an even keel again. There is always a difficult day when doing something so new and different, I knew it would come at some point!

  5. RoseRunner says:

    What an adventure! I have to read back to catch up on how you ended up in Tokyo. Somehow I’m not surprised that there were not a lot of runners, but it’s neat to hear that the older folk enjoy their walks and their tracksuits! Sounds kind of similar to Lake Merritt in Oakland (but with a lot of runners as well).

    1. Cathryn says:

      It did remind me of the Bay Area, all those older asian people walking and taichiing! Plenty of runners about, I just missed them!!!Good luck today! Excited for you and the other Bay Area bloggers. Almost wishing I was running it myself 😉

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