Japan, June 2014: Day Nineteen

Up and out the door, we marched in the early morning heat to Kyoto Station; somewhat sad that we missed so much of this wonderful city, but also happy knowing that we had an awesome few days and will return!

I’ve totally stolen Emma’s newest addition to the family – Danbo – a small toy of a cardboard robot. You’ll see this appearing frequently on our Facebook and Instagram feeds. His blank expression makes mundane photos awesome and as a big child, it gives me an excuse to play with toys. Many photos were taken at the station, so expect to be spammed with these soon enough.

One of Emma’s biggest regrets is that we never got to explore the Gion district and see the famous old buildings and Maiko (Geisha) that frequent this part of town. As we waited for our train and pondered which bento to buy for the journey to Tokyo, one such Maiko appeared at the top of the escalator. We stood in awe as the young lady and her ‘mother’ shuffled past us along the platform. After everything we’ve endured in Kyoto, this made it all worthwhile for Emma.

The journey to Tokyo was easy and the subway to Shinjuku was just as simple – once we’d found the platform. Our hotel is a block from the station and it’s nice to be sleeping in a proper bed again.

We headed straight out to get food and a map book for tomorrow’s adventure. We found another vending machine restaurant and after devouring a curry, headed to Book Off in Shinjuku. Searching for a book in a book shop is often a laborious task at the best of times, but looking for a book in a book shop where you cannot read any of the categories or titles is next to impossible. After asking the staff (who were awesome) we were guided to the correct section and left to our own devices to find the book we needed…

Not being able to read, this was longwinded and challenging. We didn’t know what we were looking for, but would know it when we see it – so got stuck in. About to give up and go home, a voice from behind us asked what we were looking for. After explaining (kinda) the young man said that we were better off looking in 1st Book – the largest book store in Shinjuku. Without further ado, he said he’d show us where it was and proceeded to lead us down the five floors to ground level and onto the street. Asking us where we were from, he admitted to being a fan of the BBC and Top Gear, before pointing out that his hair was cut like James May’s – not your average style icon, but it worked for him. We walked across town to the Cocoon building and down some stairs into the underground. Ordinarily, this would be the point where we get mugged, but being Japan, we arrived at the basement level book store. After conversing with the store clerk, our Japanese James May found the section we needed and helped us find exactly what we were looking for. Pointing out that he had to leave to meet a friend, Fukuba (we think that’s his real name) left us to buy the book and return to wandering around Shinjuku. We are forever grateful for his help and are continually amazed by the help and friendliness of the people here, even in the big cities.

We only have one night here and leave early tomorrow…. Didn’t really take many photos, sorry!