My Day in Tokyo

by Anthony on March 19, 2010

I woke up nice and early, ready for my first full day in Japan. My plan was to spend the morning doing touristy things, see some sights, and then get on a train and make my way to the snow.

I had a cup of coffee at the hotel, and spoke to a French tourist who said it was easier to walk to Ueno than catch the subway.  After 40 minutes of walking, I decided he was full of it.

I did manage to see Asakusa, and the Sensoji Template and surrounded shrines.  Got some great photos there.

Then I made my way to Ueno Park, and did a lot more walking.  I found the Tosugu shrine (after climbing an inhumanely long stairway), but it was closed for renovations.

I intended to visit Ueno Zoo and see the animals, but couldn’t actually find the entrance.  Turns out Ueno Park is pretty big!  After a lot of walking, I was out of time.  I returned to my hotel, picked up my luggage, and made my way to the train station again.

I was pretty hungry here, and thought I’d try a McDonalds.  I changed my mind about that as soon as I entered though – it just didn’t have that familiar feel to it!

To get to Nagano, I was catching the Shinkansen – Bullet Train.  This was really more like catching a flight than riding a train.  Big, comfy reclining chairs, reserved seating, a drinks cart, and it absolutely flies!  I mean this thing is fast!

Took about an hour to get to Nagano, where I had to change trains to get to Nozawa Onsen.  At this point, I realised I had messed up my train timetable a bit.  I had just missed the next train by a few minutes, and had to wait an hour until the next one.  I considered going for a walk but didn’t want to drag my bag around, so I just waited on the platform.  Figured I’d done enough walking for one day anyway!

Up until this point, all the loudspeaker announcements had been repeated in English, which was comforting.  That seemed to stop when I hit Nagano though, which gave me a nervous hour of hoping I was sitting on the right platform.  The wind was also picking up, and had a lot more chill to it.

By 4.45, I was on my next train to Nozawa Onsen.  This was quite a step down from the Shinkansen.  It was very crowded too – not as packed as the subway had been, but close to Queensland Rail at peak hour.  We passed some very nice scenery though, looking out at ancient buildings, rice paddies, mountains, and rivers.

When I arrived in Nozawa Onsen, I could feel the chill.  This was the first time I’d actually hit snow.  It was more icy sludge at this point, but the temperature had dropped significantly from Nagano, so I added my beanie and zipped up my coat.

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