My time in East Asia was ending. From Sendai, I returned to where I started three months ago: Tokyo.
I had again booked into a ryokan, but this was about 30 minutes from the centre of Tokyo. It was run by a lovely man, who’s English was good. The reviews about the ryokan especially praised the owner. They were right: he was incredibly kind and thoughtful.
Being away from the centre allowed me to see “normal” Japanese life in Tokyo. The centre is frenetic and seems to primarily cater for office workers, diners, shoppers, and tourists. On the outskirts were normal shops, where I could buy fresh food.
Japan loves its vending machines. You can find a lot of unconventional stuff in them. Once I even saw “steak meals” being dispensed. There was a particular type of vending machine that I had seen all over the country and had wondered what they were selling. So, today, when I was shopping for presents in a toy shop, I saw someone, who didn’t look Japanese, buying something. He was an American who’d settled in Japan. I asked him what he had just bought. He said it was a “trinket” — a little toy. This particular one was part of a set he was trying to collect. I asked what happened if he got a duplicate in the collection. He replied that he’d swap it with someone if he could or give it away. He showed me a previously bought trinket (not part of the set) hanging off his rucksack. These trinkets looked like toys, but they were collected not just by children but also adults.
Whilst the next few days would mostly be spent shopping, I did visit a few tourist spots.
At the beginning of my trip, I had gone to Asakusa to visit Senso-ji temple. However, I didn’t go to the observatory at the top of the Culture and Tourist Information Centre, which is free to visit. The terrace at the top faces Kaminarimon, the outer “Thunder Gate” leading to the temple. You could also see Nakamise-dori Street, the most popular path to the temple.
After some more shopping, I went to a restaurant called TENZO, a sort of fast food, healthy vegan restaurant, which I found nearby on Google Maps.