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Wednesday, March 30, 2016

2016 JAPAN SAKURA ADVENTURE: Day 2--Shinjuku Park

Shinjuku Park has always been in my top three of Sakura sites.  I showed up at 11AM on a Wednesday, and there was a line 100 yards long to get in.  One delay was that everything was being checked.  There was a long list of what not to bring in, especially alcohol:

The entrance fee was around $1.75.  Unfortunately, while lots of sakura in bloom, the peak was still a few days away.  This weekend should be great, but the crowds will be oppressive...and it is expected to rain.

As it was, there was a lot to appreciate:

There is a relatively new greenhouse here with various microclimates:

Even a beautiful blue jade.

I then checked out of the Tokyo Westin in my first experiment at thriftiness, and found my way to the Bakurocho Station, where exit C4 was said to put you 30 seconds away from the Toyoko-Inn Akihabara Kanda Hotel.  Unfortunately, life is not always so easy.  
  • At exit C4 you had to walk up a whole bunch of stairs to street level.  That was impossible for me with luggage.  
  • So I went back to the station and asked about an elevator.  Well, it turns out that this station has no elevator.  
  • They recommended my walking underground to the next station and finding an elevator.  Halfway there I saw an escalator, so up I went.  
  • Unfortunately, that took you only half way, and the only way back down was to walk.  So I struggled up.  
  • Amazingly enough, way up the road I thought I saw a Toyoko-Inn sign.  After a half mile walk, it was Toyoko-Inn, so I tried to check in.  
  • Wrong Toyoko-Inn.  They told me to go back from where I came and how to get to my hotel.  
  • The sign outside my hotel said $67 in American dollars.  However, that is the price if they had any room available.  I had to pay $97, which is still better than $350.  A large sign in their elevator said this was the largest hotel chain which experienced full occupancy for all their hotels in a 24 hour period.
  • The room itself is very adequate with a largish bed and fast wi-fi.  Plus they have a Sakura plant outside.

On the way over I saw a soba restaurant, so I went back there.  However, it was too complicated, having to put coins in a vending machine with language I couldn't understand, and the place looked seedy.  Fortunately, next door was a Domino Pizza, so I ordered take-out Spaghetti Bolognese, Caesar salad and corn soup, and bought a can of beer from 7/11.  I had an excellent Italian meal in my room.

Tomorrow I fly to Kansai Airport and meet my Panda Tour for a lot more cherry blossoms, mostly on Shikoku Island, Hiroshima and Osaka.


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