Immaculate, polished, hushed, polite...describing the breakfast experience here in our hotel where a plate of two croissants looks like something from a style magazine. Everything is presented impeccably, making the humblest of things look priceless. I'm not sure I could manage it on a daily basis but for three or four days it is remarkably pleasing and brings a smile to both our faces.
We set off this morning in light rain, towards the station where we caught the circular Yamanote line to Ueno Park and the Toyko National Museum. We bought our Suica cards and hopped on a train immediately - so efficient! On previous visits we've found the whole experience of being here interesting and this does not pall. Simply sitting on a train, watching people and noticing so many impressive and amusing details is enough to keep us happy for hours!
So, what makes a train ride here different from one in London, say? Well, the organisation is amazing for a start; all the train lines are colour coded and the platforms permanently signed - clearly enough for a total stranger to know exactly where to go and what to do. Stand at the marked spot on the platform and the train will stop exactly there for the door to open in front of you. Not only that, but look closely at the markings and you'll know if you're going to board the train near a reserved seat for elderly or disabled use.
Once on the train, above each door is a screen showing the next station and the location of the station on the route as a whole. A number of minutes alongside the name will indicate how long it will take to get to that station and - get this - where the train will stop in relation to the stairs, escalators and the exits so it's possible to move along the open train and stand where you wish to get out.
On the approach to each station, an announcement is made in English and Japanese about the next stop and on which side the doors will open. As the train stands at the station, a short tune plays over the speakers; a different tune for each of the stations on the line.
Yes, we are easily entertained!
Walking towards the museum, we noticed that a popular design for manhole covers seems to be cherry blossom - sakura. What's more, as you can tell from the photo, the rain stopped!