Graveyards, dodgy masks and decomposing bodies

I promise I can deliver on everything in the headline. But this isn’t the grim post you may anticipate!

The good news. I went for a run! A decent one!!! Actually one that was longer than I’d anticipated. The downside of not being able to read kanji and having an iPhone that doesn’t work abroad! Well, the map feature anyway!

I had planned a route on mapmyrun but it was vague. I knew I wanted to check out two neighbourhoods north of Ueno which are known for their old-fashioned appeal – Nezo and Yanaka. Nezo was easy enough to find and within seconds of turning off the main road I was lost in a maze of alleyways suitable only for pedestrians and bikes. It was fantastic, suddenly so peaceful and so intriguing. We stumbled on a playground and had the obligatory stop, and then found some ENORMOUSLY fat local cats. The Dude and I are missing Charlie, so we stopped to say hello.

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Peaceful little alleyways
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Ginger!!

From there we ran on. I was taking roads that appealed – I have a decent sense of direction and knew roughly where I was. I passed loads of little houses and local restaurants which would have no English menu! It was so cute. Eventually I found a road lined with various shrines and temples and a little graveyard, and then finally turned into Yanaka graveyard which was roughly where I’d wanted to go.

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A Buddha in Suburbia
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Suburban graveyard
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Yanaka Graveyard

From there, it went slightly tits up…I headed in the generally right direction but had to keep stopping to ask directions, read maps on the side of the road etc. It took me a while to get back to Ueno station (and thus the park) and I was starting (maybe) to feel a little panicked. I kicked myself for not having any money on me so I could take the subway home if it all went badly wrong. But it didn’t, and just in time, I recognised my little corner of chaos! I rewarded the Dude with a trip to the playground by the lake in Ueno Park where we saw the saddest, most pathetic, soon-to-die cat who broke my heart a little and then the Dude engaged two sensible Japanese people in a fabulous game of leaf throwing.

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This child makes friends so easily!

I ran roughly 5 miles in 52 minutes. Happy with that, it was a decent run! It felt much further!

What else have we been doing this week?

We spent an afternoon in Shibuya, the shopping heartland of the city. By night, it’s neon-soaked. By grey day, it was a little less mind blowing but still pretty amazing actually. The Shibuya Crossing (a road crossing) is renowned for the hordes who cross it, and even in the middle of the day, watching the swarm from above was quite cool!

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Shibuya
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A phone headset with lamb ears attached
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Fabulous chair in Adidas, of all places
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For those who cannot tolerate gay tea!
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The world’s tiniest iron
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For all your Christmas fetish needs!!

We had a day expecting rain but the rain never came. We checked out the Science Museum (yawn, I can’t get excited about science), then the posh shopping area of Ginza (also yawn, I can’t get excited about things I’ll never own) and then we had an amazing time in the local market streets!! Much more fun!

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Every museum should have a decomposing body
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Real? Fake? Head looks fake, body looked real.
My first dodo
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Temple above a fish stall
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Our local streets!
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Scarlet octopus!

Things that have struck us lately.

1. Fruit and vegetables are RIDICULOUSLY expensive. Prohibitively so. We are making do with bananas, carrots and broccoli. Yesterday we treated ourselves to an apple.

2. School children wear the most amazing uniforms. Boys wear these kind of navy military suits with brass buttons. Girls wear sailor dresses. And kids wear matching hats. I love it all.

3. All the cool girls here have fringes/bangs. I am very on trend, for the first time EVER.

4. To be hot in Tokyo, you need fur around your collar and your cuffs. Apparently trends start in Tokyo so get yourself furred out. You read it here first.

We are definitely getting more used to Japan. The city is starting to come together in my head. The subway and trains are no longer terrifying but actually very easy. The people continue to be lovely, especially to the Dude. I’m finding that by being polite and smiling a lot, you get a long way here. We are all so enjoying this experience!

8 Comments Add yours

  1. Bean says:

    Another batch of amazing photos! I hope you don’t mind but I may need to steal the ‘tits up’ expression. So funny. I am glad you made it back safely from your run. And those are the most amazingly fat cats.

    1. Cathryn says:

      Use it, it’s a great British expression!! And yes, the cats were SO fat I can’t work out how they could walk!!!

  2. Madeleine says:

    Really enjoying reading all your posts about your stay Japan! I’m impressed you are finding time to run with all the exciting things to see and do πŸ™‚

    1. Cathryn says:

      Thank you! I’m kind of impressed myself – I think it shows how running is become part of my life, which makes me really happy. I also know that having a blog is really motivating me as well – otherwise I’d sit in Starbucks a bit longer. I’m finding that running is a great way to explore though!!

  3. Jen says:

    Love the photos, captions, and your observations about Japan. The only part I didn’t like was when you said , “yawn, I can’t get excited about science.” (Sorry, I just feel a need to defend scientists everywhere.) πŸ™‚

    1. Cathryn says:

      Haha…I thought of you and a science teacher friend of mine. I guess I actually needed a scientist there to get me excited rather than relying on my own wit and intelligence!

  4. Those are some giant cats! That straight tea is cracking me up.

    1. Cathryn says:

      I know, it wouldn’t sell well in SF!

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