Monday, 20 July 2009

Holly's weekend of adventure - Day 3

Happy Marine Day! No idea why it's called that but it means I got the day off work today! So to treat myself, I decided to sleep in before tromping off around Tokyo again.

Today was more slow paced than Saturday and Sunday, which was nice. I realised this morning that I don't need to try to cram everything in this weekend as I am here for two months and will have plenty of time for adventuring. I headed over to Ueno-koen (Ueno park) again, around noon-ish, and spent most of the afternoon there wandering around. I saw all the diffent shrines and did a lot of people watching too.

This temple had a brilliant tunnel of torii leading down steps to it.

And had stone foxes, wearing bibs, standing guard at various points.

The biggest and most impressive temple in the park was covered in scaffolding and tarpaulin - trust my luck! It's surroundings were pretty cool though - there are 52 huge copper lanterns leading up to the front, which are used to burn incense at certain ceremonies.

I also particularly liked the giant bronze Bhudda face. It fell off a massive statue which was destroyed during an earthquake - the surviving face was preserved by setting it into a wall and turning it into a shrine.

It was when I was walking around Ueno-keon that I saw my first homeless person. A lot of homeless people in fact. I'll have to check with some people at work, but it seems that homeless people are allowed to live in the parks in Tokyo and not anywhere else. They don't beg at all and seem to actually have 'jobs'. What I mean is, they collect rubbish and separate recyclables and then take it all to larger rubbish collection areas within the park itself. Also I saw a few guys sweeping up leaves from the paths that lead up to the shrines. I don't know whether they actually get paid for doing this, or maybe it's in return for this that they are allowed to stay in the park. I'll have to find out as I've never seen a homeless person on the street yet.

Now, at home, you might go to the park at the weekend and feed the ducks in the pond. In Tokyo, you can wander over to the lily pond (which has a beautiful temple sitting in the centre) and feed the huge black and gold koi carp and the terapins - how much cooler is that?!

Once I'd fully explored the park, I hopped on the train to Roppongi and checked out the new Roppongi Hills complex. I dotted in and out of a few shops but they were all brands that I could get at home for a fraction of the price. For example, I looked at a nice jumper in the Diesel store that would have cost about £80 in Edinburgh and was priced at 45,000 yen - around £300! When I go shopping here, I think I'll stick to brands that I can't find elsewhere! I then headed up to the 52nd floor of the Mori Tower, to the 'Tokyo City View Observation Deck'.

This glass-walled atrium has 360-degree views of the city and was brilliant.

I spent ages up there, so long in fact that I got day-time and night-time views!

Up at the top is also a massive art installation space that is currently home to the 'Sky Aquarium'. Think modern art meets deep sea world, on psychedelic drugs. All in the dark and surrounded by mirrored walls are individual aquariums designed by various artists; giant tanks filled with jellyfish, which are illuminated by a laser light show; tiered tanks with water cascading into the next tank down, each with a different type of goldfish and huge gemstone shaped tanks filled with tropical fish. It was truly magical.

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