Timing is Everything 2

Day 25 – Monday, 22 April 2024

In the morning, Annabelle and I set out to secure a vital need – a large suitcase to bring home all the Pokémon plushies, unnecessary clothing and other components of our expanded set of possessions acquired since we arrived. We found it, and also the local branch of Muji, at the Yamashina branch of which I’d bought some of the items of unnecessary clothing already mentioned. I had thought to grab another couple of pairs of the trousers I bought in Yamashina but couldn’t find what I was looking for. Neither, in the end, did Anna, much. Thank goodness, for it meant that I didn’t have to go back and buy yet another new suitcase.

This was our last full day in Japan, and we should have been eagerly ticking a few more items off the not-done-yet list. But, in truth, we had done most of the things we really set out to do and, I think, our energy levels were not what they were even a few days before. Being on holiday is tiring.

We did, however, realise that we had not been in to see the Imperial Palace. A glance at the map told us that within walking distance of the palace and its attendant gardens was a major museum district including the National Museum of Modern Art and the Science and Technology Museum. So onto the subway we went yet again and to Tōkyō Station, which is large and palatial itself. Presumably it’s how the Emperor gets to work.

The emperor’s commute

The walls and outer grounds of the palace are impressive, of course, but it was only after we got there that we realised that we had, with impeccable timing, chosen the one day a fortnight in which entry to the palace is not permitted, it being used for official purposes. Sensibly, that is also the one day a fortnight that the museum district also has a day off, presumably on the basis that thirteen days a fortnight is enough to be catering to ignorant foreigners and when the palace is closed, the ignorant foreigners won’t be around anyway. A fine plan, they just hadn’t counted on just how ignorant some foreigners could be. We had a coffee instead.

And went home and ate some chocolate cake of staggering expense, beautifully prepared and presented in the Japanese way – the sort of thing of which the cost and the essential over-the-topness of it is most of the point, intended to be given as a gift to demonstrate, extravagantly, how moved by gratitude or appreciation one is. We hoofed it in seconds.


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