Thursday, July 31, 2008

The Station

Japanese public transport is fantastic! maybe not the cheapest but still great. I have a PASSMO card that electronically works at the gates, and saves working out the fare each time. Coming from Melbourne the efficiency and ease of use for the millions of commuters here, makes me frustrated when I think of the years-long throes of getting a ticketing system going at home, that is still not finished. Why can't they just copy this one, or New York's or Paris or London!? No need to reinvent the wheel! Well, so much for that rant--
My local station Shirokanedai is convenient, just a 5 minute walk to the station entrance, and one stop to Meguro on the Yamanote (circular) line. However the platform itself must be near the bowels of the earth; there are four (4) escalators to get there! I know there are similar deep ones in London and New York, but again Melbourne has one subway line and 6 stations so no need to go deep. The Mita line of this station has completely enclosed the rail line with glass doors, and of course all trains stop opposite a door or marked spot on the platform.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Wilting in Tokyo

After leaving Melbourne in 8 degrees, it will take me a while to get used to 32 degrees and 70% humidity. My first day was spent in short forays interspersed with air-conditioned respite. I also made a point of drinking a lot of water; a great effort for me as I never really get thirsty.
It was a lovely surprise to look out the hotel window to see that Shinobazu Pond was covered in huge water-lily leaves (~60cm in diameter)and the start of pink buds and blooms.
As I was resting in my room about 6.30 I could hear drumming so I went out to investigate. As I walked around the Pond to the small Shrine on the island I came across a performance by a women's Taiko (drumming) group. The rain the previous hour had dropped the temperature so it was a pleasant ending to my first day back in Tokyo.