The plan today was to get up early and head into Tokyo to see the Sumo training as there are no tournaments at the moment. The last one was a week ago and the next one is not for a couple of weeks. Training is every morning from 7:30am to 10:00am near Hamacho Park in Tokyo.
We woke reasonably early but never planned to get their at the start of the training (first mistake). We headed out of the apartment at 7:35am which should have got us into Tokyo around an hour later.
Next was the Musashino Line to Nishi-Funabashi. This train was packed like sardines. Luckily it was only 4 stops but those stops managed to jam even more people in. There was only just breathing space and you didn’t need to hold on, you were not going anywhere.
At Nishi-Funabashi, we got off and grabbed a couple of minutes of air before getting onto a new line for us, the Chuosobu Line to Ichikawa. This one was even more crowded if that is possible and even though it was supposed to be a 10 minute journey, it ended up longer due to delays up the line.
At Ichikawa off for some more air. We had layered up for the cold but was finding that it was getting very hot in the trains with all the body heat so the fresh air in the Stations was very welcome.
It was then onto the Sobu Main Line to Bakurocho, our final stop. This was a 15 minute ride again in a crowded train. From here it was a kilometre walk to the Sumo Training which wouldn’t have been an issue if it wasn’t raining. The rain was persistent but we arrived at the Arashio Stable after a 10 minute walk. The place was in darkness with a couple of sumo wrestlers coming and going from the showers and sauna. It was just 9:00am but it appears that they had finished early.
We waited around for 5 minutes then headed down to the end of the street to Hamacho Park for a look around checking out the Temple nearby. We headed back to the stable hoping the Sumo would be starting up again but no luck. Eventually one came out as said it was all over for the day. Moral of the story – get here early if you want to see the Sumo Training.
It was still raining and we started towards Akihabara Station to book our Bullet Train tickets for Friday. There were a few stops on the way to check out some shops and try and guess what is in products as there is very little English on packaging.
It was good to get some relief from the rain. In the ticket office, the bloke really wasn’t interested in us and said “no English” but his offsider was more than helpful. It ended up the train we had hoped to get was full so we were booked onto a later train at lunch time and given our experience this morning with packed trains, that is probably a good idea as we will have out luggage with us. Tickets in hand it was time to explore the Akihabara Station. There was a large electronic department store taking in 6 floors, Yodobashi Camera Store. It was like an Aladdin’s Cave, and we probably spent too much.
There was a 3 kilometre walk to our next Japanese adventure, ear cleaning and massage. Apparently this is a thing in Japan so why not give it a go. It was still raining and after a few minutes walking, it was back to Akihabara Station and catch the Tsukuba Express (a subway train about 4 levels underground) to Asakusa Station. It was a short walk to the Asakusa View Hotel, a swanky hotel that we looked very out of place, however this was where we had been booked into by Yutaro. To even look more out of place, we sat down with some lunches in one of the planter boxes out the front.
We headed upstairs to find the place for the ear cleaning but it took 3 businesses before we found the right one. Not a lot of English spoken here. Jenny and Rachael went first followed by Bradley and Justin then I was last. The procedure involved lying back on a barber style chair, covered in aprons, towels including the eyes (obviously don’t want you to see what is going on). They then used a variety of tools to clean out the ears, finishing off with a massage of the ears. I knew something was up as mine was going a little bit different. They started bring out clippers and razors. Off went some of my mono-brow, then the ear hair. A lot of laughter ensued including the staff.
It was interesting and another thing off the list but I am not sure it was even on the list. It certainly hasn’t helped Jenny and her hearing as she still doesn’t seem to understand any of us.
We were meeting up with Yutaro again in another part of Tokyo so back on the trains. It was another kilometre walk to Ueno Station from the Asakusa View Hotel then onto the Yamanote Line to Shinjuku Station. This area is very busy and looks to be the nightlife spot with plenty of young people, neon lights and noise. Bradley wanted to give their version of slot machines in Vegas Vegas where they use ball bearings instead of cash to get around the gambling laws. Without knowing how it worked, he soon donated it all to the cause.
We wandered around checking out the sights and sounds before meeting up with Yutaro on Godzilla Street with its own Godzilla hanging off a rooftop. Yutaro took us on a little tour of the area away from the glitz where there are little alleyways with small BBQ restaurants that hold around 10 people maximum. We stopped off in one (Anbei) to sample Sake’s from around the country. Real sake comes in long necks and the glasses are placed on saucers then filled to overflowing. They cant serve sake on its own so a small meal was prepared. We were booked into another restaurant for 6:30pm so it was time to move on.
Back into Godzilla Street and up a lift into a 6th floor restaurant which you could just squeeze past the fridges to get into. The entrance opened up into Oedo Ayatori which was a Japanese BBQ restaurants with a couple of chef’s on rotating BBQ’s that cooked your food and hand it to you on a 4 foot spoon / ladle. Our chef was Mon and he could have doubled as a sumo wrestler. We settled in for a 9 course banquet with a endless glass. Looks like we are in for a good night.
The meal was great as well as the atmosphere. I would recommend this place to anyone provided you can find it. A few hours later and we were getting a little tired but the night was not over yet. The west had the small alleyways with the restaurants but on the east was the little alleyways with one room bars. There are 300 of them in one block and they are literally one room. You can fit a maximum of 10 people at a squeeze. Yutaro took us to one of his favourites, Shinjuku Golden Street Hanazono Gotando “Bar Time”, or at least I think it is what it is called. It is run by a singer, Deshico, and with the 2 people that were already in there, we soon filled up the bar.
There is a cover charge of Y700 which includes a snack then you buy drinks after that. Because you have the bar to yourselves, he gets you to choose the music and video list. A couple of others joined the mix so it felt just like a train but unfortunately they smoked and there is no law against it. Our clothes now reek. It was getting around midnight so time to farewell Yutaro and head home. It had been another night to remember on our Japanese experience.
The trains are thinning out a bit now but are still packed. The first train was on the Yamanote Line but in a new direction to Nishi-Nippori Station, we then transferred onto the Tokyo Metro Chiyoda Line to Ayase which then went onto the Joban Line without changing trains to Matsudo. It was then onto our local train on the Shin Keisei line to our station, Minoridai.
Another big day, in bed by 1:30am and having walked 18897 steps.
Tomorrow will be a bit of a rest day to recuperate as I am sure we have broken the “Party Hard” kids.