I wakey wake around 530 to drain the overnight dew. Guess we crashed out hard last night. Definitely needed it. When I get back to the room Queenie is playing French jazz music from her phone and doing a sexy wiggle dance in bed haha. Oh NUTS we miss you! Alright, upsie daisy.
Morning mission: Meet up with our French associate, Col Moutarde, at the JR office in Shinbashi station. He needs intel on South East Asia before he leaves Tokyo.
We exit Anne Hostel and hit the metro right at morning rush hour. It is squeeeeeeeeeeze city, holy shit! Wow what a cluster. Just a bonkers amount of people vying for subway space.
I guess rules don’t apply at this hour
Human sardines going to work
We get to the Akihabara station for our transfer. Spot Ms sex shop across the way again. See you soon, M. We wait and wait but no train comes. Seems to be a lot of confusion. A bunch of people leave. There’s some announcement but only in Japanese, Queenie and I are lost. The Col is hitting us up on the Agency line, he’s already there. Ahhhhhhh, should only take 20 mins to get there. We ask a business dude who’s on his phone what the deal is. In his limited English he gets across that the line is busted or something. Sheeeeeeet.
Ok we book it back to street level, exit the station and make our way to the Hibaya line to transfer there. It is chaos getting through these subways at this time of day. Business weepees scurrying all over. We miss the next train due to the overflow from Akihabara. When we finally hop a train after a few stops we realize we’re going the wrong direction. Holy fuck! Ok, push push to the doors and back into the fray. This is craaaaazy.
We relay our defeat to Col Moutarde and tell him to start moving towards a different station. They’re getting coffee and breakfast at a Starbucks somewhere in Ginza. He drops a pin. We figure out a route and with just a little more confusion we’re finally on the right path towards a rendezvous. Damn. I thought we were getting good at this.
We meet up with Col Moutarde (aka Stephane), Agent Bullock (aka Jen) and Stephane’s local informant Ben who lives somewhere nearby. We all get briefed on the current situation. This is followed by hugs and some “Happy Birthday!”s to Queenie.
It’s fun to see people you know in a totally foreign place no one’s ever been to. They’re all ready to get moving so we just grab some sandwiches, coffee and hit the Ginza streets on our way to the Imperial Palace. We get some odd looks on the streets because no one actually eats on the streets here and maybe also cuz we’re a bunch of tall white folks.
Ben is 6’5” or something. He’s all jokes and French and I like him already. He’s lived here for the last 13 years and works in finance. Sounds like he’s doing well. He lives with his Japanese girlfriend. I imagine her being at least 2 full feet shorter.
There are no trash cans. Anywhere. wtf? How are these streets so clean?
Tokyo Imperial Palace
The Imperial Palace was founded on the grounds of the Edo Castle that was built in 1457. The Emperor moved there from Kyoto in 1868 and named it Tokei Castle (Heian-Kyo, modern Kyoto, was the old capital and Tokyo used to be called Tokei). A bunch of fires and earthquakes have destroyed the original buildings of Edo Castle and a new palace was built in 1888. WWII bombings didn’t really help the new structures much and what’s there now was rebuilt in the 60’s and the imperial residence in ’93.
Despite the morning madness mishap we get to the Imperial Palace grounds fairly early. There isn’t really anybody around, is this thing open? Nope. 30 minutes. We kill some time out front by a nice open green space that looks cool juxtaposed to the tall buildings just beyond it.
We figure out where to go, get some tickets, still can’t find a trash can, and make our way in to the grounds across a bridge by the moat and through a massive stone slab and wooden gate. There is a nice big swan chilling in the moat.
(I sometimes use patterns like this as phone screen backgrounds.)
No one’s around, it’s kinda nice. There is a winding path through the grounds passed some big stone foundations made from giant rock slabs. So once your army finally gets passed the moat and gates its an uphill slog through a windy maze to the top. Well played.
A nice open area at the summit with some fall colored trees and well manicured lawns and shrubbery.
Oh hey giant spider, sup?
There is an old landing, presumably where cannons and artillery face down to protect the palace grounds. We go take a look.
Decent view up here. I think it’s time for some selfie stick action!
“Dude, you’ve got a selfie stick? Seriously?”, Ahhhhh yeah Stephane, if that’s even your real name, it’s the beeeeees kneeeeees! Seeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee
Well that’s cool. We can’t really get that close to the actual Palace though. Not much else up here either. Except this gorgeous giant praying mantis
We finally find a trash can hours after Starbucks. It’s by a vending machine. C’mon Tokyo, this promotes a vicious vending cycle. We get some ice cream treats. Jen tells us a story about how she told someone on a trip she doesn’t eat dairy and they said, “Oh are you a virgin?” lol
We decide not to hit the East Gardens but we do stop by the moat overlooking the city on the way back down. I continue to impress upon the doubters the incredible value of a $15 selfie stick.
They’re almost sold, I can tell.
Having only one day in the city, Jen and Captain Frenchy Pants want to hit the Senso-ji shrine and Skytree like we did yesterday, so we plan to split up for a bit and then meet back up in Roppongi. We’ll grab dinner, drinks and whatever else we can fit in before Agent Bullock and Col Moutarde leave for the airport to start their secret SEA mission in Thailand.
While they’re doing the ShrineTree trip our plans are in Queenie’s adorable hands since it’s her birthday and all. Queenie found a quaint little Bird Cafe before coming and it’s just waaaaaaaay too cute for us not to go.
Next Mission: Kotori Cafe
There’s screaming on the way out of the Palace grounds. Sounds like torture. Maybe training? It’s weird.