David Chart's Japan Diary

April 22nd 2004

This will probably be a fairly short entry, because it's quite late here. I'm still getting an unreasonable amount of homework; 'unreasonable' in the sense that, to get it done, I have to neglect my writing. Since I have a deadline coming up, that's going to have to change, so I'm going to have to set a limit on how much time I can spend on homework per day, and if the homework doesn't get done in that time, well, that's just the way things are. The difficult part will be explaining this to my teachers, I think.

Apart from homework, not a great deal has been happening this week. I had lunch with Yumi and Ed from my class yesterday, and Yumi says that things aren't too bad this term, so maybe staying for another six months is still an option. We'll have to see how things pan out. Of course, if I have to cut back significantly on homework, that might hold me back anyway.

I went back to the skin doctor on Tuesday, basically to get more cream. The cream keeps things more or less under control, but my skin is still much more itchy than it used to be. I can't help wondering if it's related to the change in the water back in January, but I can't think of any way to test that. Even the week I spent away when Mum, Ray and Silver were over wasn't long enough for everything to clear up if the water is the cause.

Talking of which, it's time to start talking about the holiday.

The Hordes Arrive

Immediately after school on March 26th, I headed out to Tokyo. That evening, I met up with Yuriko and her friend Ako for dinner, which we had at a very nice soba (noodle) restaurant. So nice, in fact, that I made a reservation for the following week, so that I could come back with family. After dinner, we walked around that area of Tokyo a bit, which took us into Yasukuni shrine, where the mats and stalls were out for cherry blossom viewing. It was really quite busy, something that would become a recurring feature of the week.

Gaijin in Tokyo Ray, Silver, and Mum, in front of Shinobazu pond in Ueno Park, Tokyo.

On the Saturday, I had to get up fairly early to get the Skyliner to Narita airport in time to meet people coming off the plane. This worked out quite well; I came up the stairs into the airport as the tannoy announced that their plane had arrived at the gate. I thus had a bit of a wait while they got through customs and immigration, but not too much of one.

After the 'nice to see you again, welcome to Japan' bit, we went down into the railway station to pick up the JR Passes and buy tickets for the skyliner back to Tokyo. On the train to Tokyo, we got talking to a couple from England on a world tour, who were visiting Tokyo for the first time. I offered a few suggestions for places to visit, like Kamakura, but obviously spent most of the trip catching up with family.

In Tokyo, we got a taxi to Sawanoya, and dropped the luggage off. Then we went to Ueno Park, to see the cherry blossoms. They were still opening at that point, so the display wasn't quite as spectacular as it would be later in the week, but they were still very pretty, and cherry blossoms and Ueno Toshogu shrine were a good way to start things off. This was also their first real experience of Japanese crowds.

People were, unsurprisingly, a bit tired at this point, so we went back to the ryokan fairly early, and then had dinner at a very nice sushi restaurant quite near by. People then got early nights, ready for the holiday to start in earnest the following day.