Japan Trip 2023 – Day Seventeen

May 20th

View from ryokan window

Packet of mixed nuts and some bitter tea.

Not quite the breakfast of the previous few days.

Today we attempt to negotiate the inner city subway and rail system to reach the sword museum. Suica card has plenty on it, so should be relatively stress free. Ryokan does not allow access to the room between ten and three.

The map of the local area has a calligraphy supply place marked on it, so I thought I would have a look there before going to the museum. The shop was not on Google maps, nor did the ryokan map match Google and neither quite matched up with the actual streets. I did not find the calligraphy supply shop.

In a back street whilst looking for the calligraphy shop

Huge festival taking place in Asasuka all this weekend, so Tanwyn thought the trains would be crowded. They were, but possibly as much because the museum was located in the same area as a large sumo arena, where the current grand championship was taking place. There were giant sumo wrestlers and their fans everywhere.

Entrance to the Sumo stadium

Found the museum easily enough, only to be greeted at the door with a sign saying, closed today.

This was a major disappointment, in addition to which, it had started raining again.

Next to the museum was a small, but very beautiful garden park with one of the kokoro shaped ponds in the middle. It was somehow linked to the river and rose and fell with the tides.

After wandering the park for a bit, I accosted a security guard outside the museum to see if it would be open tomorrow. It would not be, not until Tuesday, he said. Then he chased after me and said it was open today, it was just that one entrance that was shut. He then showed me the way in.

The exhibition was small, but had some very beautiful blades, many quite modern. There was one particular tachi that stood out from all the rest, no date on it, (nothing in here was in English), only that it was signed Yasutsuna; will need to look that up. The blade had a nick in it, which always makes one wonder if it had been used in battle, though this is by no means a given. The blade was wider than most, which is one of the reasons for its appeal.

There was another green space nearby, with a museum to remember the dead from the great Tokyo earthquake of 1920 something and those who died in the Tokyo bombings of World War II. Was not really in the mood for death and the park was more desolate than green, but it did have a bin where I could deposit my coffee bottle from earlier.

Found a nearby 7-11, the best combini brand for vegan options and picked up some tofu sticks and salad for lunch/breakfast, which I ate in the first, actually green, park.

Trains by now were so packed it took two goes to get into one.

Too early to return to the ryokan, so went to the Nezu shrine today instead of tomorrow, as I had originally planned.

The avenues of red torii leading to the Inari shrines were much smaller than I had anticipated. So small you had to stoop not to hit your head on them.

The shrine is very popular and it is extremely difficult to take photos without random strangers ruining them.

The main pathway is lined with shrine irrelevant arts and crafts stalls.

The azalea garden was not in full flowering, but very nice; again, smaller than anticipated.

Lots of people in kimono today, don’t know if that is a flow on from the Asasuka events, or a normal thing for this shrine.

The main shrine

Had one more failed attempt at finding the calligraphy supply shop and now back in the ryokan and soon to head to the bath.

Have done all I came to Tokyo to do in the last days, so uncertain as to what will happen tomorrow before going to the airport.

My plan to buy sake to take home from a highly recommended local bottle shop was foiled by the fact that they are shut on Sundays.

Think I will just check out and make my way to the airport and see what unfolds from there.

Tanwyn rang this afternoon rather than series texting, so nice to hear her voice and chat.

Tomorrow we pack!

Kai Cho

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