Settling in

I awoke late, the boy rousing another two hours later. That scuppered our plans a little, but we are on holiday! 

We headed back to Ueno Park where there was definitely more of a party atmosphere on this Tuesday afternoon: groups of all ages chatting and eating under the canopy of blossom trees. It's not as romantic as depicted in the old silk paintings we saw in the Museum of Tokyo, but the cherry blossom still draws the crowds.

The Museum of Tokyo is a majestic building, housing many of Japan's national treasures. We only had time to look at a small section, but luckily they cater for time-poor tourists and the main gallery is designed in such a way to give a tour of the highlights in two hours. This allowed us to see some ancient Japanese art, wood carvings, ceramics, and kimonos. Not bad at all!

We were almost last to leave, and headed to Shibuya to capture the mayhem on what is deemed to be the world's busiest pedestrian crossing: think of an upscaled version of Oxford Circus.

Next stop was Shinjuki - where we thought we were the night before! We asked around and got to the Yodabashi camera store - each floor was dedicated to some kind of photographic paraphenalia such as bags (I have never seen so many), tripods or chemicals. Across the street was the film store: a beautiful sight. Sadly they don't stock infrared film which I had hoped to pick up.

We had worked up an appetite and set our way to finding Nagi, a recommended eatery in Shinjuku. Although we've got to grips with the metro system, street level is still a challenge. There is not a lot in the way of street names and the map we were following was fine, until we got within a hundred metres of the place. We went around in circles and couldn't quite work out what kind of area we were in - think Blade Runner with less steam.

We managed to ask someone about Nagi, and low and behold it was about 15 metres from where we were standing! An unassuming doorway with a steep flight of steps going up signified we were in the right place, but we had to wait in the narrow side-alley as about seven people were inline ahead of us. Intriguing! After about twenty minutes we were told to follow a lady in kitchen attire up the steps, and were indicated to pay for our food from a vending machine! There were essentially two choices: regular Ramen and special ramen. You could then add a few extras such as boiled egg or chilli. We paid for two regular Ramen and a beer, handed in our receipts and took a high-stool at the 'bar'. Nagi is tiny and can cater for ten people in total. Every bit of space has been utilised with boxes of tissues suspended from wires and a counter, one foot deep to rest your bowls and drinks. Two people cook up a noodle storm from behind the bar and present steaming bowls of ramen within minutes. 

Turns out Nagi is situated in the Golden Gai area of Shinjuku, which is a labyrinth of teeny-tiny bars, previously home to ladies of the night. We walked past one doorway, where the clientele of three looked snug. According to Lonely Planet, the 'eccentric masters and mamas' who run them have managed to stave off development in this hub of Bohemia.

We made our way back through the booming streets and stepped on the train at Shinjuku for a somewhat convuluted ride home.

 

 

Getting in the Hanami mood - looks like we may be a week early for the fullness of the blossom viewing season. 

Getting in the Hanami mood - looks like we may be a week early for the fullness of the blossom viewing season. 

Outside the Tokyo National Museum

Outside the Tokyo National Museum

Ancient Dolls. Old lady

Ancient Dolls. Old lady

Into the light

Into the light

Preparing to cross: Shibuya

Preparing to cross: Shibuya

What will it be?  

What will it be?