It was a very clear day yesterday so we thought that we might take advantage of the view from the 45th floor of the Tokyo Government Building opposite our hotel.
There are some spectacular views across the broader Tokyo area. On a very clear day you can just see Mt Fuji on the horizon, 100 kms away. Unlike other major world cities there is no central ‘downtown’ area in Tokyo. Instead there are a number of regional areas like Shinjuku that are spread around different places on the circular shaped JR Yamanote Line that runs all around the city area. We are located at ‘9 O’Clock’ on the circle. Other large regional areas include the big centres of Shibuya, Ueno and Tokyo Central. The population of greater Tokyo is about 12 million.
There is a good tourist information office located on the ground floor of the government building and it is a good source of maps and information about various places to visit and go sightseeing. They used to publish a number of sheets of walking tours but sadly they have been discontinued. Instead, there is just a booklet of local regions and their key attractions.
We walked around the commercial area with its large office buildings. The architecture here is very impressive. Everywhere you turn you can see interesting building shapes and attractive angles. This is really a world class business environment. However it wasn’t always that way. My Aunt Hatsu (see below) tells me that when she was a girl. this part of town was just an area of open fields.
We spent some time shopping in the Keio Department Store near the station. This is owned by a large company that also has trains, a bus line and hotels. It was no use trying to buy clothes here as Japanese sizes are quite small (as we found out by the size of the seats on the tour buses that we have been on). Some Japanese stores now have shops in Australia so some of the things that we used to see here are not quite so unique any more. We did find a couple of interesting things that were new, including an erasable ball point pen. I can image it being very useful in correcting the mistakes I usually make in filling out forms etc. Hello Kitty is a very popular children’s character in Japan and all the stores carry many shelves of Hello Kitty merchandise.
In the evening, we met up with my Aunt Hatsu and cousin Les who were also visiting Tokyo. Hatsu married my uncle and moved to Australia in the early 1960’s She is a lovely lady and doing very well for her 83 years. Her real name is Hatsuho but she just abbreviates it to ‘Hatsu’. They are staying with her sister in Chiba, about thirty minutes away by train. I like Hatso a lot. She is always so interested in our family and what they are all doing. I haven’t seen my cousin Les for over thirty years. He moved overseas with his work as a pilot and it was good to meet up with him again. We enjoyed a large meal of udon with them over dinner in a little restaurant down the street.
It seems ridiculous that we should come all this way to catch up with our family. By co-incidence, David and Yuki will also be here on Sunday from Perth so we will get another chance to meet up with little Orin, our five month old grandson. I’m sure that Yuki’s parents are looking forward to seeing him too. We didn’t time our visit to see our relations, it just turned out that way and we are very happy that it did.