We were scheduled to meet our local guide at the Canal Cafe by the train station. But the cafe didn’t open until lunch so we waited and watched the steady stream of commuters.
Before our trip we had arranged to have a local travel writer help guide us in our exploration of the city. In addition to being an excellent writer, Selena, is also a very beautiful and gracious person. The fact that she is fluent in both languages is also a huge plus.
The first order of business was to get a pass card for the Tokyo subway system. There are two cards that work pretty much interchangeably. The Pasmo card (which is the Tokyo Metro card) and the Suica card (which is the JR card with the cute little Penguin). Naturally I wanted the cute little penguin card. But we each ended up getting a Pasmo card. However, at least it is personalized and has a cute little pink trains.
Cards in hand we were now ready to navigate the maze of tracks and trains, which reminds me of a giant bowl of brightly colored ramen noodles.
Since it was such a beautiful day we thought we would try and find a place where we might be able to catch a glimpse of Mt. Fuji. On average there are only about 107 days out of the year when the summit is visible. There are quite a few places in the city with good observation decks. But we decided to head on over to Shinjuku to visit the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building (東京都庁, Tōkyō Tochō) which is well known for its free observation decks which provide good panoramic views of Tokyo and beyond. The 243 meter tall building has two towers, and each houses an observatory at a height of 202 meters. It had been the tallest building in Tokyo until it was overtaken by the Midtown Tower in 2007.
The views of the city from the 45th floor were outstanding. However the summit was shrouded in the haze. But it was free so we weren’t complaining.
“Remember what Bilbo used to say: It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.” – JRR Tolkien