October 29 Shitamachi
Center-city Metropolis Ginza - quiet backstreet Yanaka Ginza
Still jet-lagged when I woke up. Not in the wee-hours,
but still early in the rush, so I went out audio-taping.
One of this trip's objectives was to bring home
Yamanote line sounds - most of its stations have a
generic buzzer-tone indicating doors closing, but I've
wanted a recording of that special, wintry jingle they
play at Shibuya, so I brought along my little Sony recorder.
Rode up to Shinjuku and back, and along the way came
to the realization that all the stations have
unique sonic signatures now! Some even have different
musics for trains traveling in opposite directions.
Later I came to the conclusion that only Ueno, of
all the 29 stations on this circular JR line
around the center city, retains the old generic tone.
-- Hear Shibuya (100K mp3 file) --
Then over to the Ginza to change
more money - initially thought a better deal for my
Traveler's Checks could be received at an American
Express office (this is true in Europe - no service
charge), but a futile search for their local bureau
was eventually terminated by a telephone call which
revealed they don't cash their checks in Japan, must
go to a bank instead - so I did, a Fuji Bank, after
some bookstore browsing at Jena in the Ginza.
Then I had one of the Little
Adventures in Tokyo, provided by a somewhat
obscure little guide I came across by chance a few
months back. This one was the chapter titled
"A Walk Through Old Tokyo" and out of all that
book's excellent information, it's the adventure
I followed the closest, using the text's map and
detailed instruction. ("Cross the red bridge and
walk around the shrine... take the alley in
front..." etc.) Initially it took me through a
delightful little "pocket" park called Sudo Koen,
then on to the winding neighborhood shopping street
of Yanaka Ginza, where I bought some green tea
at a shop called Kamekichi Tea Merchants.
Although I didn't plan on a souvenir tea
purchase until later, the place was so nice
and they serve everybody a cup, I couldn't
resist. The path continued, meandering around
this neighborhood, through a graveyard
(not a common sight, since cremation's
the norm in this crowded land) and onto a
region dense with temples, shrines, and little
shops - I was reminded of Kyoto. At one point I
discovered a viable
ryokan, and took one of their
brochures for reference, next trip.
Eventually, feet and legs aching, I returned to
Gotanda, exploring the area around the hotel,
which is dense with eating and entertainment
establishments. For dinner I had some grilled
chicken at a rabata-ya called the Yakitori
Akiyoshi, which I decided (based on the
slick presentation encountered within) must
be part of a chain.