Tokyo: Day 7

I’d made a few plans for places to visit today, which would be my only day here spent without meeting any friends, but in the end those plans were blown away by the wind and rain. Watching CNN later, I learned that we should be grateful for the storm over much of Japan today, because its presence diverted a typhoon which would otherwise have been headed in our direction. That wasn’t a huge amount of consolation when I was walking through Shibuya, though, feeling as if I was about to drown.

I mostly retraced the steps I took on Saturday, with a few diversions. I headed to the Tokyo Hands department store to get a few gifts. It was difficult to find as I made my way through Shibuya’s back streets without daring to open my bag and get out my guide book, which would be instantly soaked. I eventually found the store and dripped my way in, slowly drying off as I made my way up and down the buildings many stairs, finding a few things to bring home.

When I left, the rain was still pouring, and I found a nearby manga and toy shop called Mandrake. After going through the door at ground level, I had to go down several flights of stairs, fairly deep underground – after a while it felt like I was going somewhere I wasn’t supposed to, but then found myself at the entrance to the busy, cluttered store, full of shelf after shelf of comic books, divided into many sections such as action or supernatural and a section for girls, where all of the books seemed to be about guys kissing each other. The toys were mostly action figures, everything from characters from the latest videogames to old favourites like Godzilla and Mothra, along with a few random American toys dotted around the place. It was a good diversion to escape from the rain but after a while I decided to head back to the surface to see if the weather had improved.

The rain was still falling very heavily, I decided to move on anyway so put up my hood and walked up towards Yoyogi park, where I stopped for another Mos Burger, the local chain I’d completely fallen in love with yesterday. While I was here, I noticed that the rain had stopped outside. Obviously, once I’d finished eating and left the restaurant, the rain started again. I walked past the headquarters of NHK, the licence-fee funded broadcaster which modelled itself on the BBC and whose building reminds me of Television Centre as well.

From there, I walked to Harijuku, where the brightly dressed girls had been replaced by a sea of umbrellas. I had a browse around Kiddyland, the large toy store, where I picked up a few more gifts. I then walked up to a shop I’d been told about which sells more traditional Japanese gifts, but it was closed. It was still raining very hard and by now, despite wearing a waterproof jacket and hood, I was pretty much soaked to the bone. I gave up and got the train back to the hotel to dry out and spend the rest of the evening relaxing.

Tomorrow, I check out from the hotel and stay at my friend Noriko’s flat for my final weekend here. I’m not sure how much time I’ll be able to spend online while I’m there, so this might be my last post until I return home. The plan for tomorrow is to check out of the hotel at lunchtime and then hang around Shinjuku until Noriko finishes work. I’ll then join her for a gig in Shibuya. Saturday will be one of the highlights of the trip, a visit to the Studio Ghibli museum followed by dinner and drinks with all my friends here. Finally, on Sunday, I’ll be catching my flight home. It’ll be nice to be back home and see everyone there again, but I’m going to really, really miss Tokyo.

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