Journal 20081014 Japan

We took advantage of not needing to rush to get to our next destination in Tokyo, by having another relative lie in. We had one last dip in our en suite hot tub, packed our cases, and went for breakfast for 9am. There were noticeably less punters about this morning. The 100yen shuttle bus got us to Hakone Yumoto station a good 40 minutes before we need to be, but it was actually a relief to be able to sit and relax. I made some headway in a book my aforementioned book, The Third Party, by Glenn Patterson.

There were some good views of the surrounding mountains as we left Hakone, but limited by the heavy cloud cover. By the time we arrived in Tokyo, it was a persistent shower, then outright rain. Per usual, we were too early to check into our hotel, so we left our cases there and went to a nearby Starbucks for a Western indulgence of cappuccinos, heated cinnamon bun, and chocolate cake.

Having checked in, the staff at Kadoya Hotel gave us good advice as to where to find plum wine (brandy), music, and a local Hageten restaurant (our fab tempura experience in Kyoto). We found the liquor store, but as the Ume was all in large 750ml bottles, we decided not to get any. Instead, we got a small bottle of cold sake, for Deborah and Jean-Charles.

It was a bit of a walk over to Takashimaya Times Square, where I found an HMV store. I had fun finding a few new CDs: “Genji Nostalgie” (Rin’); “Rising” EP (Yoshida Brothers); and “Switch” (Immi, a new artist for me). Dusk was beginning to appear, and the view from the 7th floor was spectacular; our portable camera was back in our hotel room, recharging. We perused several other floors of the main Takashimaya department store, marvelled at the choice and price of the wares available, especially for children. We then took a more leisurely stroll back to our hotel, to change for dinner.

It was still raining, and Madame Oui was brave to wear her open-toe sandals (with sparkling glitter). I did my best to read the map directions properly, but took a right turn too early, which required another 15 minutes to correct. We did find the Hageten restaurant. It was surprisingly empty at this prime dinner time, but by the time we left it was full; we realised that the Isaten department store next door was open until 8pm, then its restaurants get busy. I didn’t expect this dining experience to be as remarkable as the original in Kyoto, but it was still a very tasty meal, and I savoured every last morsel, knowing it could be several years before I have tempura as good as this.

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On the way back to our hotel, we enjoyed the night neon lights of Shinjuku. The rain didn’t stop, and we played it safe by retiring early. We knew that our holiday was coming to an end. Back in our room, we did some sorting while enjoying a last tin of Kirin special autumn brew.

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