a bit of a squeeze
Our last day here and a few things still to do - waking up to that sunshine was a wonderful tonic though, and we started the day with a spring in our step!
That spring turned into a little leap as we turned the corner on the way to breakfast - there, on the horizon, just as promised was Fuji-san!
As we checked in last Saturday, one of the staff assured us it was there, in the cloud. Until we saw it for ourselves, however, there remained just that smallest doubt...
Our morning walk to the station was altogether different in the sunshine. (Another little observation of Japanese behaviour - always wait for the green man before crossing, even if there is no vehicle in sight)
The destination for this morning was Kichijoji, a western suburb of Tokyo where there were one or two interesting shops on my list. Yuzawaya was first, with a door leading directly from the Kichijoji station, no less.
The diminutive size of the shopping basket is a good means of limiting one's impulse purchases! But a tambour hook (Clover) and a few other bits found their way into the collection and we moved on.
Kichijoji is quite a contrast to the hectic Shinjuku area where we are staying. The streets are smaller and the traffic not quite so frenetic, making pottering around far more pleasurable.
We enjoyed mooching amongst ordinary, everyday shops and trying to identify some of the vegetables.
Our target was Avril. Can you guess why?
Once inside, there were some familiar products
I'm not sure if Avril and Habu are one and the same, or if Avril simply stocks Habu products - no matter. We spent a happy half hour in there, swapped money for yarn (and a book) and did a lot of smiling! This was such an inspiring place to be, there was a serene little courtyard garden for Mark to sit whilst I looked around and made a few decisions. If I say that an Ashford Loom awaits me at home - birthday present! - you'll know why I was rather excited by some of the many woven lovelies that were hanging there begging to be the inspiration for my first project.
A further wander around the streets in Kichijoji revealed Cottonfield, another of the recommended places to visit (poor Mark!) Buttons, ribbons and beads on one side of the street, excellent fabrics on the other. Lovely organised shop, very well stocked and super-friendly staff. Here I found some of the Japanese cutesy fabric we've been seeing, ready cut in half yard pieces.
Having satisfied every fabric need, we headed out to Roppongi this afternoon, for a breath of fresh air and a look around some of the modern Tokyo architecture. Look who we found there! Last seen in the Turbine Hall of Tate Modern, the spider sits oustide a modern commercial centre which we found less interesting than whoever wrote the guidebook entry which tempted us there.
Time for a bite to eat in Shibuya, scene of the great crossing and of the statue of Hachiko - a Japanese Greyfriars Bobby - the favoured meeting place for youngsters in the area.
By now, we were feeling weary and headed back to Shinjuku on the train, at rush hour. You've seen the pictures of the Tokyo rush hour, I'm sure. To say it's a squeeze is a small understatement. Arriving at Shinjuku, (reputedly the busiest station in the world with more than three and a half million people passing through it every day) we struggled to make our way from the platform and out into the concourse.
Everyone was polite and kept their cool, no-one shouted or created a fuss but simply made their way through the crowd as and when they could. Amazing.
We have both commented on how very much we enjoy simply looking about and taking in the scene. Keeping an eye open when walking about the most ordinary street reaps rewards too - how about this for a fire hydrant sign in Kichjoji?
Or this sign, on the street in Shibuya, to help locate your whereabouts
Lastly, as we were leaving the restaurant, also in Shibuya, we spotted this lovely warning sign on the lift doors.
There now follows a squeeze of a different sort as I try to close my suitcase...