SO WHERE DID I END UP?
From my last post, where I didn’t know where I was heading, I called a few hotels and decided on a strategy to stay near the one where I had booking. For one night, I reckoned I could handle a capsule hotel. So here I am at Riverside Capsules, Asakusa, for my second night and clearly loving it.
I am currently downstairs in the lobby where James Bond is on tv and a couple of men in pyjamas shuffle past, or read the paper. A young man has just checked in, puts his belongings in the locker down stairs and heads up to his capsule.
This is one of the few in Tokyo that accept women. It may still not be every girl’s ideal (you confront men in their pyjamas even on the way to the showers) but for 3000 Yen, it’s got an onsen overlooking the city and I have one of the best capsules (bottom, end of the row, and even room to have my bag outside my capsule). The facilities are really clean, even stocked with hairdryers. The pyjamas are decidedly funky, unless you have ever been institutionalised, and then they might give you flash backs.
Each capsule has a tv, radio, alarm clock, shelf, and light. There are curtains to draw across for privacy and it’s roomier than my bed in Suursuon! The staff are super nice and the location is beaut. What more can I need?ABOUT THAT ITCHING
Ah yes. About that rash. I said I had a few insect bites. More like, waking up at three am in excruciating pain with no less than 67 one inch lumps all over me. Mostly arms and legs and trunk but particularly places like fingers, toes, and anywhere that backpacks rub, waistbands go, shoes fit, etc. Basically if I wear pants or skirts, carry a bag or wear shoes, it really hurts.
I spent an hour searching for the relocated American Pharmacy (it’s in the Maranouchi Building in case anyway lands here by way of google) and got some stuff that burns the nerve endings and some insect repellent to spray through my stuff and on me. I also spent 3600 Yen (ahhh - almost as painful as the bites) on pure camomile oil which I am diluting to wash in. The pain has subsided except for the larger ones but to give you an idea of how bad it was, the Pharmacy stocked the famed and delicious Aussie biscuit - Tim Tams. I saw them, stopped but so needed to apply the medication that I moved on and left all the packets on the shelf. Now that says something.
The itching has put an end to the onsens - I don’t reckon 40C plus temperatures are actually soothing for the skin but someone correct me if I am wrong as I dearly love them. I do feel for anyone bathing with me anyway, it’s really not a good look, kind of measle like - weltishh. MmmmSO TOKYO GO GO
I am so glad I arrived on the weekend. It seems a bit calmer and has given me a chance to get to know the place.
The area I am staying in, Asakusa, has a funky feel, with street markets, water buses and the ubiquitous temples. Last night I went to Shinjuku - the nightlife and skyscraper area. It was cool to look at but not really my kind of scene. I think it would be great if you had someone leading you around showing you the best spots. There was the usual karaoke bars, strip / men’s bars but the addition of ladie’s bars (quite a lot too!), an inner city baseball hitting place, some fabulous hawkers, food that wanted to escape and a LOT of people.
I treated myself to grown up dinner - the elusive dumplings, and some duck. It had an English menu, but I am allowed a little indulgence right. Remember I started the day hungover, it was amazing I was out at all!
Next day, explored Ginza, which again is a different world, but not mine. Shopping, shopping and shopping. I am not into crossing of the sights, but more getting an atmosphere, and while Shinjuku and Ginza were good for that, I wanted something a little more intimate.
So off to Love Hotel Hill then… Instead the trip got somewhat long winded because I got lost (there’s a surprise) but it was serendipity because some fabulous festivals were going on and I got caught up in people carrying shrines wearing loin cloths. I’m yet to work out what it was about but I’ll let the photos speak for themselves.
Love Hotel Hill was incredibly kitsch. I longed to see some guy choosing a place with his partner, trying to romance her with Caribbean resort (fake palm trees), or Villa Casanova (fibreglass Roman columns). Some of the names and signs had to be tongue in cheek - Hotel Two Way… ?!
Final stop, Yasukuni Jinja, a shrine to peace, where the remains of Japanese War Criminals are interred. A bit controversial this one. Apparently the museum has statements that the Japanese were forced into bombing Pearl Harbour and as much as I would have loved to dig around in there, the pain of the bites was a bit too much to endure it.
Stupidly, I missed the end of some sumo practice (note to self: next time you see big chaps walking funny, follow them). I eventually did and caught them packing up. They were only uni students but boy were they big lads. You can tell they are sumos just by the gait, a really particular waddle. They kind of look cuddly though…
Tomorrow I revisit the hotel Christian and I stayed in… Ahhhh. (“I can give you two rooms for one person, but not one room for two people. What you do with those rooms is up to you.”) I will have WLan and I’ve picked up a travel earphone mike set so will be Skypeing all and sundry; tomorrow’s plan is only the Sumo museum so might get a day of low sweating to help the bites recover. Was planning on a chopper ride but the 5000 Yen spent on medicals has but a dent in that (chopper only 8000…!)