Day 7

It’s time to begin bright and early on my next to last day, but my last *full* day, here in Japan.  I’m well-rested from the exhausting Mt. Fuji climb, but all this rest has also left me motivated and a bit restless. Similar to work, when a deadline is near, productivity increases as time runs out. My initial plans to go to Yokohama sound complicated, so my camera will not be able to taste the vision of the Landmark and Pier on this go-around. Instead, a recommendation to see Zozoji sounds interesting. My last time, I missed a particular sight that, upon explanation, peaks my fascination. I’m also planning on visiting a new location – Ikebukoro, in part driven by a desire to taste some of the finest ramen available!

It’s been a while since I’ve seen the Zozoji Temple. I pass through the imposing gates, Tokyo Tower in the omnipresent in the background. I’m close…and the thought of not having captured *the* shot is bothersome. I need to find that right angle, and being so close here keeps my mind on alert that there may be an opportunity present.

However, my mind is quickly silenced. I see the Jizō Statues….I recall what each statue represents…the loss of an infant’s life. It is striking to see so many, many dressed, all adorned with pinwheels. To think of the sadness each one embodies…it’s sobering. I spend a lot of time walking amongst the statues. Some are dressed with newer garments, flowers in varying stages of life. I come across the a few that even have small dolls keeping them company.

It’s saddening and hits me pretty hard. I’m composed, but my thoughts are troubled. I prepare myself to walk closer to the temple, saying a farewell prayer…when I see more rows…and then I realize, I’ve just seen a small part…I find myself speechless…to.myself…

I’ve taken in all I can and I continue to walk around the grounds. My mind shifts back to the tower. I wander around and I find a good spot, but the lighting has caught up with my plans yet. A quick mental calculation and I’m thinking I head over to Ikebukuro for sights and food and then back to finish my work. The train awaits.

I arrive and walk around to ever-increasing crowds. Families walk about as I head to another tower that will give me a commanding view of the city. The 60 is waiting for me, unique in that it’s an open air view of the city. It reminds me of Mori, but this time around I wanted to see something different. The restaurant upstairs conveniently sells ice cream and ice-cold beer but now is not the time to indulge in either. The open air view is on one side of the tower. Inside, you can walk around the perimeter for the 360 view. Crowds are light, of which I’m thankful for!

There’s also an anime exhibit…something sports related. I sign my name on a wallpaper to make my mark and I’m off to the Toyota Amlux building. Think of it as a giant, ever-present showroom. Multistory, with cars on display to sit in. Bottom floor has sit-down Gran Turismo video games. You can take a test drive also, but since I forgot to take the driver’s test, no go for me. It’s a good sight to see and I find the staff *very* helpful as they provide directions to my next location…Taishoken!

When I worked at Konami, I really enjoyed the times we went for ramen. Not being an expert on the subject, I was fortunate to work with individuals that really knew where to get the good stuff. So, I was spoiled. However, it’s good fortune that smiled on me that I get a Fuji tour guide that also happened to grow up in Ikebukuro, and extra good fortune that he shared this restaurant with me in such a timely manner. Enough talk, though…let the picture satisfy:

Ordering was a challenge. I had forgotten that you use a ticket machine to order. After stumbling through that and hopefully ordering the pork, I set down and finally enjoy the meal. I surprise myself with my appetite, powering through it. The neighboring couple obliges me with my dumb question of where the water is!

It’s with chagrin later on that I realize that my “condition” is dreadful. The heat is really taking its toll and the walking isn’t helping. Still, it’s a memorable dining experience…but time is not on my side. I need to rush back to Zozoji to catch the sunset….and this is not going to help my “condition.”

I rush back and get my shots, spending a good couple hours setting up the tripod, shooting from various angles. The brisk pace I made to get here has absolutely destroyed any kind of presentable quality to my exterior, but no time to worry about this….not when there are mosquitoes eating me alive.

I head to Ginza. I want to get some shopping done at Muji and a large store is there. Plus, Ginza has some great lighting which will hopefully be present in spite of the power reduction from Fukushima. In my walk around, I stumble into the first Starbucks opened in Japan, and it makes a lot of sense to me that it would be in Ginza, even though it’s off the main street. I find the Muji store, thankful that it’s still open. First – need to purchase new t-shirts. Minutes later I’m changed and refreshed and I can enjoy my shopping. Purchasing small incidentals that I find unique, I exit as they close. However, it’s still too early. I’m not tired…I want to keep shooting. Quick thinking…let’s do Shinjuku!

Unfortunately, it’s not as well-lit as before, a sign of the events that have happened. At this point, I’m trying out the 50mm again and it redeems itself. In Shibuya, I just wasn’t “feeling” it when shooting. Now, in this near-empty space, with low lighting, it’s really teaching me it’s usefulness! Now, I’m fairly familiar with this area, having visited the Starbucks and passed the Krispy Kreme many times, but fatigue wears on me and the construction around here has left me confused. I ask directions to the subway and a friendly lady answers the call, coincidentally she works for JTB – the same travel bureau that handled my tour. She shows me a shortcut and I’m thankful for this – the trains are going to stop running soon and I have to get back!

I arrive at my destination and, still feeling restless, I walk around again…the same loop I took my first night here. It’s still being here again…the whole experience is dreamlike, but it’s because I haven’t had a chance to reflect back yet. At the time, it’s all “living in the present.” Late at night, with no one around, just the camera and me, analogous to being in this distant land with so many barriers…I feel peaceful – not alone. I know I’ll be back soon enough, so I relish the few remaining moments as I take to the shutter for one more time.