Okinawa party

Okinawa party
Taito, Japan

Taito, Japan

A return to boiling hot weather and sunshine today. It had been cool in Nikko, which I attributed to the surroundings, but it turned out to be cool in Tokyo yesterday, too. Which was a blessing as I ran with Namban Rengo again in the evening. This time I looked like a local in my new club vest – Japanese size medium, which made it just barely long enough not to be a crop top. Otherwise good. The session was a tough 2×1200, 2×1000, 2×800, with an abs workout afterward that I still feel two days later. As for the session, the coolness suited me, I was less modest about my start time and so managed to keep the piece of elastic between me and a Michigan American and, once it turned out I was passing him on each rep, to a Frenchman beyond. Great session, followed by a disappointing meal – I’m normally paying ¥1000 for a full feed, this was ¥1800 for a small pizza. The view, though, was stunning, and they are limited to restaurants that can easily take 10-30 people with warning rather than a booking.

Bright coloured and high shopping district in Japan

Today I had to move hostels, so contented myself with walking to Tokyo station to see about booking a cheaper ‘puratto kodama’ ticket from here to Nagoya (Shinkansen, but a stopping service). The travel centre were ready to sell me the standard £70 ticket till I mentioned the magic words above, and I was then sent to the rail company ‘tour’ section. Fab, anyway – I am booked to Nagoya on Sunday, on to Kyoto on Tuesday and saving about £20. From there I headed to the Imperial palace gardens; the main areas were closed, it now being past 4:30, but the rest was stunning. Tokyo Station itself sits in a business area, skyscrapers abounding and none of the gaudy neon lights of Akihibara (electronics shops) and Shibuya (mad crossing they’ve copied at Oxford Circus) where I’d been the day before. It made a nice contrast.

The Imperial Palace, a huge courtyard, outside
Imperial Palace.

The new hostel is in an old (92 years, but that’s old enough to make it wooden with paper thin walls, and a main area that is divided into three rooms, all of which lead into one another) Japanese building, with reception doubling as a bar. Dumb luck meant I was there for the Okinawa party; that island was under US administration for 27 years after the end of WW2, so its cuisine is an interesting mix, and we were served noodles and Japanese taco mix (no taco shells, salsa more citrusy, otherwise similar). Better, I had been for a recovery run just before so was extra hungry and this was a “come back for more” deal, and I did. ¥500 (£3.20) particularly well spent, ignore the extra spent on reasonably priced beer. Guests included an Austrian dj and Taiwanese architecture student, but best were the locals, happy, if not almost honoured, to chat to guests and from two of whom I got some good travel tips. All that to come, with my onward destinations taking some sort of shape, but for now I’m glad to have Nagoya and Kyoto on the horizon.

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