A day in the city
Trying to balance our time here and fit in everything we want to do generally means early starts and long days. We decided that today, we’d stay in the city for half a day shopping and half a day at the museum. That meant we didn’t have to get up quite so early!
It also meant that the streams of office workers had already gone by the time we were heading for the station and been replaced by more casual folks like us.
Our first stop was the ticket office to arrange our reservations for tomorrow. The long distance trains are reservation only and though most people reserve their seat immediately before they travel, we’re a little more cautious and prefer to get things sorted ahead of time. As we stood in the queue for a place at the counter, someone came in to stamp his book - good to know that I’m not the only stamp collector out there!
We opted for the later of the two trains suggested to us, thinking that if we could avoid the 5am alarm, we might be happier bunnies later in the day.
That sorted, we jumped on a Yamanote line train - the “circle line” - to change to another line a few stops on. We were heading for Kichijogi, a suburb we know from previous visits and the location of a rather large craft/sewing store, Yuzawaya. There are larger branches around Tokyo - there’s one group of stores which form a kind of village in one suburb - but this one is easy to reach and has the same products as the other ones.
My little black book contained all the instructions to get there - even though it’s linked to the station, it would be easily missed, being on the 8th and 9th floor of a department store. Whilst I browsed, my Hero found a chair and read his book. We were both happy.
What sets this aside from other craft stores I know is the range of stock. Where else could you buy a kit to make an umbrella?
Though Michaels and JoAnns in the US have great discounts and rock bottom prices, they don’t have this quality of merchandise or level of organisation, that’s for sure. Anyway, with a few small purchases made, we went out onto the street for some fresh air - it’s been very humid all day today and every breath of a breeze has been a bonus.
There were several school groups out in town, most wearing distinctive hats for ease of identity. It reminded me of when a colleague and I took thirty small girls from Tranby Croft School in Hull to Amsterdam for a couple of days and insisted they wear their school berets - red, with a black tassel (very smart!) They did so reluctantly, until once there when the sight of thirty small schoolgirls trotting along in their red tasselled hats caused a bit of a stir, which they lapped up!
Enough shopping done for now, we headed back on the train to Ueno, where the National Museum was our destination for the afternoon. We’d been before and really enjoyed the focused exhibition there - with regularly changing items on show, we would see something different.
As we walked through the park, we came across a school choir and stopped to listen. They were very good and it was interesting to see (and hear) more boys singing than girls.
I was fascinated by the uniformity - not much scope (or wish?) for individuality here!
A little further along it looked like something else was happening - we’d get to that museum eventually!
Another school choir, this one from Asahi (appropriate for the conductor to stand on beer crates, perhaps?) and once again, there were more boys singing than girls.
We hadn’t known anything about the first choir, so it was good to learn a little about this group, thanks to a sheet handed round by one of their teachers.
Of course they have a town mascot!
…as does the museum. Getting closer!
We knew about the umbrella lockers from last time and glad to be “unencumberella’ed” we headed inside.
The perfect exhibition for us. We went straight upstairs and began in the 4th and 5th centuries with some terracotta funerary urns and immediately recognised the identity of one of the museum mascots.
There’s really far too much to share here, so I’ll just include a couple of small details, including this lovely butterfly gong.
The label had an additional red stamp on it, singling it out as an item of particular cultural importance. This one happens to be the oldest of its kind.
The Samurai room is fascinating for the detail of their costumes. I loved the shape of this hat.
I especially loved this screen, with 36 poems by different femail authors (not that I could read any of them of course). Each poem had been set out on a page with an illustration and each was accompanied by a coloured painting alongside. I think that one would always notice something different each time and that it would be an endless source of interest and curiosity. If choosing something to bring home though, a hat pin might have proved more practical!
Once we’d completed the exhibition and visited the shop, where a small purchase of a Hokusai-print roll of washi tape might come in useful later next week (hope it doesn’t prove too apt), we headed back to Ueno station to catch the train back to Shinjuku where I had one last bit of shopping to do and of course, we would eat dinner - Tempura tonight.
Before we came here, I found an article in an online magazine with a fun list of products. Many of them are not for me, but one or two looked to be worth a try, so I headed for Ainz and Tulpe a kind of Sephora opposite the station and got out my list.
The big buzz was around these coloured contact lenses, which were flying off the shelf. I might have been tempted myself had I known my contact lens details (I know them now…so next time ;-))
I was comparatively restrained!