Friday, 12 August 2011

Louise & Rob: Day Five

We wake early to a fresh fruit breakfast while watching Sunday morning anime, which appears to be about football-playing robots...’cept it’s all in Japanese – obviously. How we love Japanese TV. We make our way to the train station – excited about leaving Tokyo for the first time. We catch the train and end up nose to armpit with what seems like the entire population of Tokyo, including a group of anime-styled teenagers who spend the journey on their mobile phones and pulling faces at each other. Kamakura seems an awful long way away when you’re stuffed into a train car on a hot day.

When we arrive we decide to head downhill which Rob thinks will lead us to the beach, on our way we pass a tiny sushi shop, and after deliberating what’s in the interesting looking fishy ones pick cucumber maki rolls. Food in hand we pass by roadside shrines – filled with fresh flowers, incense, books and food offerings.

We’re also really amused by the sight of a KFC complete with full-size Colonel Sanders statue. Awesome.

The beach is a huge sandy stretch, surrounded by grassy hills and mountains – and the occasional mysterious sign, which seems to feature a huge black bird with some sort of warning...great. We debate whether this means we’re going to be eaten, or taken on a jolly flight. But by this time we’re starving so sit down to eat our sushi on the beach, watching local families paddle in the surf and poke sticks at crabs.

As we’re eating we become aware we’re being scouted out by giant black birds – which Rob suggests could be kites. However for now they seem to not be killing us – which is good. We do finish our meal more hastily than before though while keeping an eye on the birds.

After checking our guidebook we decide to head towards the giant bronze Buddha. We get distracted by a vending machine – Louise gets a peach drink, which tastes just like eating a peach. Japan feels a little bit like Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory sometimes. We get completely lost and end up in a suburb-style area with some seriously big houses. We finally give in and decide to ask for directions and after being set on the right track we shelter from the blazing sun in a German-style cafe tucked off the main street.

Louise orders a mouse-shaped bun and is enthralled by the weird spiky flower on the table. After a cooling drink and sweet treat we head back onto the Buddha trail. We dip in and out of shops and realise how big an influence Hawaii has here. All of the shops are tuned into Hawaiian radios, and all seem to sell surfing gear, alongside wooden novelties and string dolls.

The day is so hot we grab a triangular icecream as we make our final ascent towards the Buddha. We pay a tiny amount to get in and are handed a wad of leaflets. And then we see the Buddha – it’s huge. There are huge pots of incense burning and plates piled high with oranges, and fresh flowers, and people. The whole area is vibrant and busy.

We both light a tightly packed bundle of incense, and decide not to go inside the Buddha’s claustrophobia-inducing belly despite the fact it’s ridiculously cheap. We look around the surrounding gardens and sit down in a shady secluded spot – it’s such a hot day.

After a quick recharge Louise is eager to be up and off again, but Rob has other plans...

Unbeknownst to Louise, Rob has been planning to propose this holiday, and this seems like the perfect time and place. By and large it goes well – especially when she says ‘yes’! The ring is only a makeshift one, purchased on the sly from a gift shop earlier in the day, and costing the princely sum of Y380. It’s a pink heart set in silver metal and Louise had wanted it when she saw it in the shop, but it didn’t fit the finger she was thinking of. Fortunately it fits her ring finger just fine!

We spend the rest of the day in a happy glow, ecstatically hopping from shop to shop, looking at gifts and planning our future. We’re so overjoyed we don’t even mind being crammed in the train on the way back.

On arriving in Shinjuku we return to the hotel for a bit of a rest before heading into Kabukicho for our evening meal and another night in the amusements. We find a tonkatsu restaurant which boasts sublime complimentary green tea, as well as delicious tonkatsu which we eat surrounded by businessmen and enjoy the boisterous, but smoky, atmosphere.

In the arcades we win Spirited Away playing cards and a Catbus flannel on the UFO catchers – thanks to Louise’s sheer skill. We also have a good go on the Taiko drumming game – a fantastic way of expending calories and by the time we’re done our arms are ready to drop off. Rob scores high while Louise bops along to the cheerful J-Pop beats.

We head back tired but happy, and so ends the best day of the best holiday of our lives so far.


Awe, I miss Japan! I love the adorable critters you make; they're uber cute! ;)

Hope you're having a great week!


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