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Thursday, March 31, 2016

2016 JAPAN SAKURA ADVENTURE: Day 4--Ueno Park

I was agonizing at night trying to figure out how I would somehow transport my luggage down those steep steps when it occurred to me that I could avoid that possible disaster by just catching a taxi to Tokyo Station.  Problem solved.

As I had a few hours before I had to leave Toyoko-Inn for Haneda Airport, I thought, I've always had a hanami (picnic under cherry blossoms) lunch, with a few dinners, why not do this for breakfast.  I asked the front desk if I could extend my stay from 10 AM to 11 AM.  Sure, I was told, for 11,000 yen ($10).  10:30?  Well, what about 10:20 for free she said.

Waiting for the Sobu Line at 6:30AM, I noted that 90% of those in line were in dark suits and ties.  When the train came, it was full, so I had to insert myself between people, a standard operation here.  Why were they going to work so early?  

The cherry blossoms were also not quite at peak at Ueno Park.  Glad I came so early, for in a few hours you would not be able to see any ground for the mass of humanity.


On both sides of the walkway are these green and blue tarps, guarded by the lowest ranking people in the company or group.  They might have to sit here until 6PM when things really pick up.

I picked up a bento with sake and beer for my breakfast hanami:


Yes, this was breakfast, but it's just impossible to have a hanami without sake and beer.  My table is a large cubic rock.  Just as I was about to eat, one chopstick dropped unto the dirt.  It's amazing what you can do with one chopstick if you don't mind placing your mouth to the food and using your tongue.

I noticed twenty feet away a Sakura tree with white and pink stuff, so I went to take a photo of what they were:


Yes, cherry blossoms growing out of the trunk.

They are very organized here, with signs on where to throw what away.


That sign on the right indicates what you cannot do:


You can only smoke in special areas.  Unlike Shinjuku Park, nothing here about alcohol.  Those celebrating on those tarps do some serious drinking.  Other scenes:


Getting back to my my hotel, I noticed that the free breakfast was still being served, so I picked up a cup of miso soup and had it during my bath.  Another first.

I easily found my way to Haneda Airport, thanks to the taxi that bypassed the luggage problem.  Only $15 to possibly avoid a serious accident.  The ANA Lounge was large but modest, with almost no food.  I noticed what looked like how to get a short nap, and think you had to go to a special room to use this:


Did I tell you I bought another cane, which you can see to the right?  This one also came from Daiso...for $1.25.  The one I got in Bangkok was $3, while my German version was around $20.  I lost both of them on my Grand Around the World Journey.  Wonder when I'll lose this one above.  Another advantage of a cane is that a staff member came up to me for early boarding, and walked me to my seat.  I was the first, and no one came in for another five minutes.

I also noticed two rather large ads, for deep ocean drinking water and Miyazaki Beef:


On the flight to Kansai Airport, I had a beautiful view of a snow-covered Mount Fuji (and here it is almost April):

 

After I picked up my baggage, an ANA staffer with a cart came up to me and said he would deliver me to my destination.  Another plus for a cane.  I must look awfully handicapped.  The Nikko Kansai Airport is celebrating its 20th anniversary.  This is a beautiful hotel with, of all the things, a 24-hour Burger King outside on the second floor:


There are, actually also four fine restaurants here, and I was tempted by their $100 Japanese beef set, and I also noticed that those over 65 pay $25 for a $36 buffet.  However, I noticed a soba shop at the airport, so I walked back (the hotel is only three minutes away) and had the following:


A truly enjoyable noodle set with grated turnips and the largest ume I've ever seen, plus sashimi with mountain yam.  As it was just 3:30PM, I picked up a raw ham and mascarpone Subway, with a can of beer, which I had for my late night snack.


The Panda Tour group from Hawaii arrives at around 8PM tonight.  Tomorrow, off to Hiroshima.

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