Back to Tokyo

May 1, 2010 - Grand Canyon Village, Arizona, United States

After Takayama we then headed back to Tokyo to spend our final couple of days there before coming back home.  We got a great run on the train back down through the gorge out of Takayama so this time saw it in it's full glory.  We arrived in at the manic Tokyo Station around 6:30pm and then found our way back to our hostel an hour or so later.  The train stations in Tokyo are just ridiculous, they are just so big.  All of them are so big you can get lost in them but in particular the main statiions are just insanely big.  Tokyo station has something like 4000 trains a day passing through it, about 20 tracks and so big that they have their own map of the station so you can find your way around.  Even with the map we still kept getting lost and would have to stop every 20 mtrs and ask again for help.  The train system is ultra efficient though, which is all the more incredible when you see stations like these.  Everything runs so smoothly, no more than 3 mins wait maximum for a train, trains all connecting like clockwork, trains exactly on time and once you figure it out the train maps with all the lines and stations are really quite simple.

We were planning on spending these few days either going back to places again, visiting things we hadn't seen or just chilling out at museums.  We also wanted to do a day trip to Mt Fuji.  Unfortunately the weather wasn't on our side again so we had to can Mt Fuji as we would not have seen anything.  We weren't too worried though as after Takayama's Japan Alps, we didn't think Mt Fuji would come even close and plus we had already had a fabulous view of Mt Fuji as we whizzed past it on the bullet train towards Kyoto.

So Monday it was raining heavily so we both headed into the Yushukan War Museum.  The museum is located in the grounds of a controversial shrine dedicated to Japanese war dead.  It was actually quite a tasteful shrine, with a few of the usual temples for praying along with gardens and statues.  They had statues of a horse, dog and other animals which was representing the animals lost in the war.  We're not entirely sure of the reason for the controversy around this shrine although reading some of the plaque near some statues it seems that a judge from way back was trying to re-write Japans history by pretending nothing ever happened and judging anyone innocent in a war crime trial.  The museum itself was quite fascinating although unfortunately for us not alot of it was in English.  There was exhibits of the first train which crossed the Death Railway (between Burma and Thailand), various aircraft including a kamikaze suicide plane, artillery pieces, letters and photographs of kamakaze pilots.  One interesting exhibit was a coconut which was inscribed by a Japanese soldier in the Philippines and then set afloat, 30 years later it washed ashore on a beach right next to his widows home and she was able to hold and read the coconut message.  Interestingly enough from our very limited English reading material, we were able to ascertain that this museum portrayed Japan as the victims in the wars and were forced to defend themselves in any means possible including the use of kamakaze pilots and that the Pearl harbour attack was a lure by Roosevelt as part of his 'secret plan" to bring an end to the Great depression.  Wish I knew how to read Japanese, it would have been so interesting to get their viewpoint.

We spent quite a few hours at this museum and the shrine grounds.  By this time it was totally pouring down and so Ed decided to go and find a rockclimbing gym he'd heard about and I wanted to go back to a market area we'd already been to last time we were in Tokyo to do some last minute shopping.  We went our separate ways and then met up again a few hours later at our hostel.  We had some really lovely people staying at the hostel from all different places.  We met a lovely Thai family with a small boy of 5yrs old, we met some Japanese travellers who were able to answer some of our questions on Japan that we had.  We also met a really lovely young Japanese student who was studying art at university and learning to draw cartoons for the famous Manga comics.  These comics are almost like bibles in japan, they are everywhere and whenever you look around someone is reading them.  They are so obsessed with them that the young kids will dress up as charactors in them and prance around town!  The are quite explicit too, not so sure they'd be allowed to sell in our corner shops!  So this young girl was a comic artist and had come up to Tokyo to present her art to be published in the Manga comics.  She had very limited English and of course we had zero japanese, but we were able to communicate pretty well.  She would just sit and draw pictures for us and give them to us as gifts.  This was such a great souvenir and we have kept them and plan on getting them framed which she was delighted to hear.  She actually emailed us a scan of the drawing she was trying to get published in the comic and if I remember I will upload this too so you can see, she's very talented.

Our final few days in Tokyo were spent just aimlessly wandering around and trying to find shelter from the persistant rain.  We got on the train to areas we had not been to before and just wandered about streets and into department stores and just soaked up (parden the pun) the atmosphere before heading back out to the airport and back home to reality.


1 Comment

Loretta Bolzan:
May 2, 2010
Hi Debbie, I enjoyed your trip to Japan almost as much as you did! Thanks for the travelogues.
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