Return to Tokyo
It was time to return to Tokyo for the final two days of our vacation. This time we stayed in the Sakura Hotel in Hatagaya, two subway stops from Shinjuku Station. Three twin sized beds crowded the room. You had to step up to get into the tiny bathroom and somehow that made me feel like I was entering a moving conveyance. On the positive side, the hotel had the virtues of being inexpensive and of having free internet access right in the room so Walt was happy. It also offered the same unlimited toast and coffee breakfast as the Sakura Hotel in Ikebukuro, but here it was free while supplies lasted.
That night we feasted on a wide assortment of goodies purchased from the food floor of a Shinjuku Department store. These food floors are like giant take-out food courts. There were so many things to choose from that it took us quite a long time to make our purchases. In addition to the stands of Japanese food, there were stands selling Chinese food and one that offered a wide assortment of interesting salads. Then, of course, there were the Japanese and European style dessert offerings. We impulsively bought too much, but, fortunately, our room also had a small refrigerator.
The next morning, after competing with a judo team from the Czech Republic for the free toast and coffee, we headed out to one of my favorite places in Tokyo - Meiji-jingu Shrine. The subway we caught at Shinjuku Station was more crowded than any train we had experienced on this visit. At one point, I was clutching a strap dangling from the ceiling and hovering inches over the lap the lap of the sleeping businessman below me. It seemed inconceivable that we would all be able to get off the train at the desired stop. When I mentioned this concern to Walt and Lisa, I felt like everyone around us understood what I was saying, and they probably did since most Tokyoites seem to have at least a minimal knowledge of English. Walt said that when the train stopped the young man behind him placed his hand on his back and pushed him gently but firmly in the direction of the door. Lisa and I followed in their wake, and we miraculously found ourselves on the platform.
As we walked under the cypress torii gates, we left the noise and bustle of the city behind. For some reason, there was a wall of paper lanterns at the entrance to the shrine.