Published: April 11th 2008April 5th 2008
Predictably woke at a jet lag fuelled 540 feeling ready for the day. Decided not to try and convince my body to sleep any more but rather make the most of it so washed and headed out. Took the train to Tokyo station left the bags and headed to Kamakura arriving in the town just before 700. Very attractive little town with all sorts of shrines dotted in the hills around the coast. Took in the first shrine and decided to head out on a signed forest walk for a couple of hours. Very beautiful hike through some beatifully quiet forests with nothing but the sounds of birds in the air. Quite surreal as everytime you peaked over the hill you realised how close you remained to civilisation but the trail managed the pretence of wilderness beautifully. One honourable exception on the viewing front was my first glimpse at Mt Fuji from the first platform. Slightly covered by the haze but clearly a snow covered crater in the distance, definitely what you would expect from Fuji san. After about an hour or so of hiking finally descended into a little valley with a very pleasant zen temple which is renowned for its gardens. Extremely peaceful place with large cemetery which seemed like a pretty darn nice place to rest your bones. Everyone very friendly as I walked through the village, lots of head bows and various greetings uttered.
Grabbed a bus back to the town before renting a bike and heading out for some of the other attractions in the area. Very small bike but kind of did the trick, and not too long before i was in the grounds of a very large bronze buddha - not too much to say, forgotten how much these things just 'are' after a while but beautiful none the less. From here a quick trip on the bike to a buddhist shrine dedicated to lost children. Hundreds of little child statues lining the pathways placed by women who had lost children before birth. Quite touching and still very busy with people making prayers etc. The grounds itself had a number of nice temples including a large prayer wheel.
Tried to get my moneys worth on the bike and headed out along the coast but to not too much benefit. Some very small waves on a very grey beach however large numbers of surfers trying to make a go of whatever swell there was. By the time I was back in Kamakura the hordes had arrived and I struggled my way up what had previously been empty streets to find some udon noodles - first time I've had good udon since Duncan's place in Melbourne. Got a bit tired of the crowds, or perhaps just a bit tired in general so took the train back to town. Predictably enough completely forgot where my locker was in the station and spent a good half an hour wandering around getting progressively more confused. Thankfully nice information kiosk lady on hand to point me right.
Checked into our new home for the next few days, Dai Ichi near Ginza. Very nice hotel the area seems nice if a little further from the happening spots that I had intended. We shall see. Still can't find a damn web hotspot. Better go and see if the girls have arrived.
Arrived back to find the ladies had arrived without incident. They were keen to get a little bit of Tokyo so we headed out from the hotel to a local tempura restaurant before heading for the bright lights of Ginza. Incredibly high fashion from top to bottom, we counted three Tiffany's along route not to mention every other designer you can think of trying to outdo each other with different lighting displays and other forms of design. Full marks to DeBeers whose whole building looked like a piece of art, I guess that's what controlling 60% of the world's diamond stock can do for your design department. The ladies were immediately blown away by the fashions on display and red wedge heels are clearly on the must buy list before we leave this island. After getting a bit lost and even more cold, we made our way back to the hotel.
Sarah bravely decided that the only way to beat her jet lag was drinking on through so we all freshened up and headed to Rhoppongi hills for the evening. Once again managed to get a little bit lost but eventually walked up the main highway before arriving at what can only be described as Leicester Square - Tokyo style. I'm sure there are many good things to say about the place but the combination of not really knowing where we going and the only bars looking anyway happening being very obviously expat hang-outs complete with premiership football blaring on the TV left a fairly bad impression. Luckily we managed to dive down a side street and found ourselves in a very odd Japanese restaurant where you had to put your hand in a monster's face mask to open the door. Once inside we were shown to a private little table where the evening entertainment began - large monsters visiting each table to ask in Japanese whether we had been 'bad' Sadly our bilingual mutterings weren't quite good enough to get a full show but they did offer to theaterically cut off my head. Odd enough for a few people still coming to terms with jet lag. I had a very nice bit of spare rib which I got to cook on hot lava rocks while the ladies struggled with eternal zen challenge of silken tofu vs. chopsticks. By the end of the meal everyone was fit only for bed.