Wow! Today has been another amazingly busy day, I really don't know how we're going to top this!
An early start, in order to clear out of the ryokan (luxury I'm sure we'll miss!), but still 8:30 so hardly bad! A quick metro ride to kamata to store our bags for the day (500¥ = £3.25 for the whole day for 2 backpacks - beat that London!) - and straight to tsukiji to try and catch the end of the fish Market...
Soooo, we missed the 'proper' Market auction (it starts at 5am! Before the subway :S) but we managed to peruse the street Market and find some amazing information and crazy stores. One shop seemed to sell almost eer endangered animal on the planet, stuffed. A great shame to see mighty animals like the Polar Bear reduced to a plastic-clad tourist attraction-come-bartering piece, but an astonishing sight none the less. James also noted that the Tuna sold at the Market every day regularly go for between 600,000¥ and 1,000,000¥ - essentially £60,000. that'll be why the Yakuza always seem to be at the fish markets in films then...
A tube ride, a short walk, a confusing set of Japanese directions (it was him that was confused!) and a long walk later we found せんじょうーじ (senjo-ji). One of the biggest Buddhist temples, it has ridiculously oversized lanterns hanging from the gates leading to up to it, and a long trail of souvenir shops - the side of one of these was the scene for the funniest incident of the holiday so far:
Imagine the scene; In the 3 days we've been here (which coincidently feels like a week) we've seen maybe one fat person. On the side of the road on the way to the temple were two seriously overweight Americans tucking into a hearty McDonald's and a hotdog (tho where they got that I'll never know). A sight we've all seen, I'm sure, but the following made me absolutely certain we we're in Japan: a Japanese tourist came up to the two of them, delicately lined up and took a photo just as they forced another greasy mouthful in, thanked them, politely (arigatou gozaimasu) and pottered off! Simply brilliant!
The Busdhist temple itself was, dissapointingly, under external repair (though they cheakily print a photo of the temple on the protective sheeting!) but still stunning inside, especially the ceremony going on in the inner sanctum, visible from the outside and audible even outside.
It's gardens were small, prim and filled with monuments to notable poets, doctors etc from throughout the ages.
We had a date with Ai later in the evening (more on that later!) so we had a few hours to kill, time we spent blissfully wandering through the gardens near Ueno. We nearly jumped the fence to walk through the enormous green fields in the park/oasis in the centre of this busy district but luckily quickly realised it was a lake so filled with lillies you could probably hide a battleship.
There were many little moments - including a western woman who we're sure passed us nearly six times while we walked in a straight line through the park, but we ended up at Hanatanodai station at 8:10 - half an hour late - to meet Ai!
Why were we meeting Ai? Cordão de Ouro Capoeira in Tokyo! Yes, we visited our local group here - a small but very friendly class including Kie, the twin sister of Chie who is one of our regular classmates from Nottingham! It is a very small world! (Not to mention that their master, 'pomba' I think, trained in Brazil with our very own Moleque!)
To balance the healthy workout the Capoeira offered (I wouldn't suggest it after a day of trekking around Tokyo!) we were taken to a local pub - family run affairs with separate rooms that can be walled off for your group's privacy. The group were so helpful, excitable and good fun it was nearly midnight before we knew it but the Tokyo group's hospitality knew no bounds as not only did they treat us to a round of beers, Korean 'jinto' and Japanese nibbles one lovely girl called 'マキンリー' (Mackinly, her nickname) also offered us her floor to stay on for the night!
As her English was roughly on a par with our Japanese Ai offered to join us to help translate (and point out any faux-pas) and we spent until early in the morning chatting and trying to sort out tomorrow's (now today's!) schedule.