The Return to Tokyo

We woke up bright and early for our last morning in Kyoto.  We packed up our laundry which we had done the night before while we still had a free washing machine, showered, and hit the streets to the main Kyoto train station where we caught an 8.30 towards Tokyo.

We had originally planned on getting off in Hakone for some hiking and Mt. Fuji viewing but it was very cloudy outside and we were pretty pessimistic about being able to see Mt. Fuji at all.  We opted instead to continue on the train towards Tokyo and come back another, clearer day, since it’s only a 30 minute train ride away.

We got to our new lodging in Tokyo, right near the Sumo stadium and had our first hostel experience of the trip.  Lynn and I both didn’t really care for all of the youths lounging about the common area on their phones.  We were too early to check in so we dropped our bags off and headed out to explore Asakusa, one of the few areas of Tokyo we had yet to see.

If tourist shops, busy markets, and streets thick with people are your idea of a vacation than Asakusa is perfect for you.  I however, loathed it and found it incredibly frustrating to navigate through the teeming masses of other tourists slowly ambling pass the shop fronts.  (Yes, I fully realize I was a part of the problem by also being a tourist walking the streets).  We did stop in a store Lynn had visited last time she was in Tokyo to look for a noren for our house but didn’t find any that we thought were worth the hassle of having to figure out how to ship back to the states or carry on the next six months of our journey.

Asakusa. I know, it looks terrible.
Asakusa. I know, it looks terrible.

Fed up with Asakusa, we headed towards Hibya park where Lynn had earlier seen there was an Oktoberfest celebration going on.  We elected to walk there (of course) and stopped to watch a parade along the way, as well as check a department store for water bottles.  Though they did have some they were $50 each, a little too rich for our blood.

It's a parade. For what? We have no idea. Our best guess is there was an election today and the sumo tournament started.
It’s a parade. For what? We have no idea. Our best guess is there was an election today and the sumo tournament started.

We made it to the Oktoberfest celebration only to find out that beers were $15 each, a plate of sausage was $27 and the place was very full of already quite drunk people (it had only been open an hour – get it together Japan).  Not really excited about blowing our budget on overpriced beer we caught a JR train (read: free with our rail pass train) back to the hostel where we could check in and drop off our backpacks we had been toting around town.

Overpriced Oktoberfest.
Overpriced Oktoberfest.

The hostel recommended a few bars around the area where we could catch the sumo tournament on TV but as it turned out, they are all closed on Sundays.  We wandered around the neighborhood for a little bit before finding a family run pizza restaurant showing the tournament and popped in.  We ate three quite delicious (if a little undercooked) pizzas, had a few beers, and learned a bit about sumo before calling it a night.

Our neighborhood has a lot of sumo imagery in it. Doug is getting ready for our sumo tournament viewing tomorrow.
Our neighborhood has a lot of sumo imagery in it. Doug is doing his best impression, he doesn’t quite have the jelly arms down though.

Daily Walking Mileage (now new and improved with Doug’s measured step length) : 14.1

Fun Daily Facts:

  • When people are upset at the outcome of a sumo bout they throw their seat cushions at the ring.  An event we saw first hand (on TV) for the biggest match of the evening.
  • Because Shintoism respects all living things, Japanese are very hesitant to cut tree limbs, which results in a lot of awkwardly supported tree limbs that should have either fallen or been cut down all over town.
  • In Japan, AirBnB is the same price and has significantly more amenities than a hostel it seems.  (Yes, we are very unimpressed with our hostel experience so far).
  • What we had previously thought were buckwheat fields (see our Nagano posts) it turns out are actually rice fields – oops. Thank you informative sake museum.

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