But first a visit to the Bunka Gakuen Costume Museum was on the cards. HM had seen a flyer for it and, since it was a stone's throw from Shinjuku Station, we decided to store our day bags in the lockers at the station and visit the museum before heading to Asakusa. Alas, it wasn't to be.
When we arrived at the station, we discovered that the lockers we had been intending to use were not available that day. The sign slapped onto the lockers cited security concerns. We had no choice but to trudge on with our bags. (We would discover later that the ban only applied to lockers outside the station, not the ones inside the station...)
Outside, the weather was slowly but surely turning for the worse. We would probably have stayed drier had we stayed underground, but we weren't sure if we could find our way to the museum that way. It would have been all too easy to lose one's sense of direction in that massive underground complex without the area's landmarks to navigate by. We finally stumbled into the museum and not a moment too soon. We were drenched and our poor umbrellas were just about to give in, in the battle against the wind.
The museum was excellent. It was small but well-curated and we had the place to ourselves. The current exhibition was western-style fashion in Japan from the 1800s to the 1970s, and included the work of haute couture designers. As we wandered around, admiring the perfect preserved articles of clothing, accessories and hats, we marvelled at how small women's waists had been.
Before leaving the museum, HM detoured to the toilet and I prepared myself to confront the elements again. The auntie who was both ticket seller and hat check "girl" looked worriedly out, through the glass doors, at the scene outside, and, I swear, muttered something about typhoons under her breath. Right, just what we needed - a typhoon.
We made our way back to Shinjuku Station via the underground. There, we found a good place to have a spot of lunch.
in Shinjuku Station
our fellow lunchers
HM's chumpon ramen (840Y/$12.60)
my dry ramen...
... with shoyu dipping sauce and stewed egg (790Y/$11.85)
It was my first time eating dry ramen. The sauce was delicious although it was overloaded with garlic.
After lunch, we took the Chuo Line to Kanda and then the Tokyo Ginza subway to Akasuka. From the station, it was a short walk through Asakusa's walking street, Nakamise Streeet, to Ryokan Shigetsu where we would be staying.
We were a little early and our room wasn't ready yet, so having checked in, we left bags there and went for a walk. We didn't get very far, just round the corner and into this traditional dessert(?) cafe cum shop that was on the end of Nakamise Street nearer the Sensoji shrine.
It was cold out - colder than it had been on our first day in Tokyo - and we had been on our feet for most of the morning, barring a quickie lunch. We were only too glad to sit down and relax in warm surroundings, and eat dessert!
We quickly established that the staff, all aunties, spoke no English and of course they discovered that we spoke no Japanese. To order, we had to pop out to the window display, with one of the aunties, and point out what we wanted.
so many choices
ooh do those look good or what?
We needn't have bothered. In the end, we went for the tried and tested, our favourites:
soba (buckwheat) cakes with soy powder and malted sugar
We justified this by on the basis that we had to try the real thing and see if it was even better here in its land of origin. We had no regrets. Perhaps because the ingredients used were authentic - Japanese red bean paste is incredibly flavourful, not just sweet - both desserts were terrific. The bill came up to 1176Y ($17.64), money well spent.
EVERYONE liked this place
Outside, on Nakamise Street, were rows and rows of shops, both touristy and traditional. We watched a man make these:
begin with the end in mind
first squeeze the dough into the moulds
seal the red bean paste in
The area around the Sensoji shrine was peppered with specialty shops, particularly traditional ones.
a model shop, hehe
lanterns and more
In the old days, the area was noted for its live entertainment, from standup comedy to porn shows, and even an amusement park. Remnants of that remain today, and the amusement park is still open.
live action preview of a show at the amusement park
you gotta be kidding
grand opening of a new porn show?
HM refused to pose with this
In the rain, the area was very atmospheric.
the real picture
a pot of stewing meat, ooh...
tour guide as rickshaw man - spot the tourists!
awww a scaredy cat
haven't we seen that face before?
We slowly made our way to Kappabashi Dori, where homeware shops congregate.
top of the line knives
so kitschy - must buy!
what a load of crock - irresistable to HM
wonder what these contained or will contain
upmarket range - also irresistable to HM
more Chinese goods
But what Kappabashi Dori is most well known for are the ultra-realistic plastic food models.
luscious or not?
a yin yang pot!
pei tan aka century eggs
ever wondered what the insides of a sea urchin look like?
on the grill
alaskan king crab and baked potato... NOT!
As always, there was a quaint sight or two...
Eventually, the rain, the cold and the wind got too much for us. On our way back to the inn to hide out, we came across a yakitori stall.
Never one to refuse good food, we bought five sticks for 1300Y ($19.50)
four sticks of chicken and one of chicken liver
Back at the inn, the staff had kindly moved our bags up to our room. It was time to find out what our room at the inn was like.
three cheers for futons
small but adequate
Our room was cosy and comfortable. A hot bath later, we were tucked up, snug as a bug, in our futons, ready for our nap.
When we woke up, it was already evening. We got dressed and went in search of dinner.
On our way out, we had a look around the inn.
the way to the baths
the common area
Outside the rain had stopped, although the ground still glistened with rain.
Only a handful of shops on Nakamise were still open.
if you wanna be a samurai
We found a restaurant for dinner.
a nice pot of tea
drum roll please
everything also got* kamameshi - mine of course
* chicken, mushrooms, crab, abalone, scallop, fish, prawn, bamboo shoot
uni (sea urchin) kamameshi - HM's
The good food rounded up our day nicely, for 7100Y ($106.50), not bad at all.