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awesome viewpoints

2012-05-27 - 1:26 a.m.

I did not get a good night's sleep my first night in Tokyo, as evidenced by the fact that I woke up at 3:30 in the morning to leave my last Diaryland entry. I tried to go back to sleep after that, but it just didn't work out. I finally packed up and headed off on the train towards town. When I got to Shinjuku, I noticed all the coin lockers and I immediately stuffed my bag in one of them. Later, I realized that I'd left my bag behind the ticketed area, so I would have to buy another ticket to fetch it again. Argh.

I located the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building, but it wasn't open that early, so I took a stroll in the nearby park. They have an artificial waterfall there named Niagara Falls. Maybe not quite! However, the canyons made of skyscrapers were truly impressive. At some point, they opened the elevator, and I joined the crowd in the ride to the 45th floor. The "observatory" is free, but I could not resist the opportunity to have the caffeine-inspired beverage, so I spent 700 yen for a cup of cappuchino with caramel artfully streaked over the foam. I don't even want to know what 700 yen is these days. Much too much! Call it the tourist tax. But it was well worth it for the chance to linger at the atmospheric viewpoint.

I wandered around the Shinjuku area quite a bit and eventually found the National Garden. Well, maybe it would be a cruel exaggeration to say that I found it, since a young Japanese man took pity on my idle amblings and took me by the arm and pretty much led me there. For that matter, that's how I found my hotel, except that the second young man didn't know where the hotel was either. Fortunately, his smart phone knew, since he was one of these Japanese people who is too polite to disappoint you by saying, "I don't know," so if his phone hadn't finally parsed it out, we both of us might still be wandering around in endless canyons walled by skyscrapers.

The National Garden was very formal and very photogenic, with each tree sculpted to precision, especially in the traditional Japanese garden area complete with Chinese shrine-type house and greedy koi soliciting goodies from the tourists...but I screwed up because I'd left my camera batteries behind in the bag I'd left in the locker. Double argh. I will blame the jet lag for my idiocy. So, no pictures from the National Garden in Tokyo on Peachfront Speaks. I guess that's why they invented Google Images.

Oh, and I found the department store with the free viewpoint. I think it was on the 13th floor, and it gave me a view of the treetops of the National Garden as well as the skyscrapers of Tokyo. At that point, because of all the buildings, I had been completely unable to see the Garden, and I was beginning to wonder if it even existed, so the glimpse from the White Garden (the store's rooftop garden, planted with white flowers) gave me a little burst of hope that I would in fact find my target.

The birds are pretty thin on the ground, but Japanese Great Tit (a recent split from Great Tit) may be a lifer for me. Will have to check my list the next time I get online. Mostly we're talking Tree Sparrow, Jungle Crow, Feral Pigeon, Barn Swallow, White-Cheeked Starling, Brown-Eared Bulbul, Japanese White-Eyed. I saw and heard the Japanese Pygmy Woodpecker but only a glimpse. What else? No Black Kites here, at least not yet.

When I found my hotel, the young lady announced that I got an upgrade. You will not believe the huge suite I found in Tokyo at a bargain price. I am the king of the internet, and that's no lie. I have a kitchen with a full size fridge. I have a laundry room, and I can hear the washing machine spinning my laundry right now. Living room, bedroom, bathroom, and I'm on the 18th floor, so I have an incredible view of downtown Tokyo. I'd planned to return to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government building's observatory for a night view...but now I see that I will be able to watch the lights come on from my very own room. What can I say? Others may try to emulate me, but they just can't attain to my level of greatness. And modest too...I lift a glass of grocery store wine in a toast to myself. You may call me awesome. Hey. That's Ms. Awesome to the Jungle Crow.

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