Sunday, February 24, 2008

discovering edogawabashi

It has been a krazy week at work. My colleague suggested that the boss had slowly but surely changed. I guess deep down he's still the nice boss I've been telling everyone about, but because of multiple projects by a major client he's termed as "the cash cow", he's been quite demanding as of late. I can go on and on about many other things which has made me a tad unhappy about work, but a friend consoled saying that it was better than having no work, which means the company is doing well enough for me to be employed!

Anyways, because of a stressful work at work (and more to come!) and since I have been out for the past few weekends, I decided to chill out yesterday and try to catch up on my Japanese lessons. I did have some invitations for karaoke, art gallery, shopping and dinner but with the strong winds (some said it was typhoon, and several trains had to stop their services) it was even more reason to stay at home.

I have been toying with the idea of taking proper Japanese lessons at a school. Doing it on my own for someone like me with little discipline (it was better when work was not so stressful!) is beginning to not sound like a good idea. If I can get myself into proper classes or at least do it on my own regularly, I might just try for JLPT 2*. So I asked my housemate Adam where his previous class was. Since he was going out anyways, he decided to show me the location. We walked along the Edogawabashi park area which was near our house, and gosh, it was so windy! We kept getting dust in our eyes.

Some flowers were beginning to bloom, but because the trees were still bare and dry, it felt like late autumn. I'm not sure if these were sakura but they looked pretty enough to be. It was my first time going to the park even though I've stayed here for months. Everytime I think about walking here, the cold discouraged me! But since I had no choice but to do it now, I decided that it was quite a lovely park. Adam said it would be even better when spring comes, when the whole stretch of skinny trees along the river bloom with cherry blossom flowers. I can't wait!

Along the Shin-meiji dori road, there's the Toden Arakawa line, operated by the Tokyo Metropolitan Bureau of Transportation. It's the only streetcar line remaining in Tokyo. It was originally part of a more extensive network and due to development, many had to be shut down. The remaining line is a merge of 2 lines - line 27 (Minowabashi-Akabane) and line 32 (Arakawa-Waseda). The station which we saw was the terminal station, Waseda, near the University of Waseda.

I was surprised to see this in the middle, as a divider between the Shin-meiji Dori street. Apparently this line only runs along the less well-known places compared to Shinjuku, Shibuya, Roppongi and Omotesando. But for those who are interested in taking a leisurely ride along the more older parts of Tokyo, this would be a good choice. If I'm not mistaken, it only charges a flat fee of Y160! That's pretty cheap. The furthest I get on that fee is 3 stops on the subway. It was a sight to see this, because the other streetcar that I've hopped on were those in Hiroshima, and Hakodate in Hokkaido island.

After locating the language school, we said goodbye as Adam went on to the library while I was getting hungry and my rice was waiting at home for me. Without anyone to annoy distract me, I took a slower pace on the way back and even visited the Four Season's Hotel's much talked about garden. Saw this cute barricade set up near a mini construction site. The Japanese have a way of making everything "kawaii", they actually put up some snowmen and pine trees on one side, and some figurines of Santa Claus on the other, with blinking lights too!

There was a quaint garden near the Hotel, and I was wondering if it belonged to someone as some trees looked pretty abandoned. Or maybe a bit out of place. This one looked like it had some banana trees in them, but I don't remember banana trees being more than 2m tall! Or have I left Malaysia too long to remember? Still, what are banana trees doing in Japan? If I make friends with these people, maybe I can have the leaves for nasi lemak next time.

Friends have told me I should visit the Four Seasons Hotel Chinzan-so since it's so near my house. I didn't give it much thought because Japanese hotels have been known to be so tiny, and the area I'm living is more residential than city, so it probably wasn't that impressive. But boy, was I surprised to see how much space this hotel took! It probably composed of at least 10 separate buildings interconnected, and from their famed 17-acre gardens (couples take their wedding photos here), you could see that this hotel was doing quite well. Even the reviews were good!

Since it was a weekend, there were some wedding receptions going on at the same time. There were 2 couples taking pictures near the terrace, another hosting their luncheon at the tea house, and probably more inside the hotel grounds. It really was what looked like brisk business, I was so tempted to walk inside and capture more pictures, but decided I would come back again in spring for more shots.

I've seen this in Niigata before, think they do it to protect the trees especially during winter. From afar they looked like elegant works of art, but they're actually covering a tree each. Since there was no one around where I was that time, I couldn't ask. These must be really fragile or prized trees for having such delicate protection around each one of them.

As my tummy got hungrier, I decided to just end the walk there since I'm sure spring would be a better time to take pictures here. Near the end of the walkway in the park, I saw some colours crying out for attention out of the left corner of my eye. Gold and purple pansies on a flower bed, they've certainly seen better days. So I set the camera on timer and sat down to pose. But a kitty came out from nowhere and wanted some attention too, and this is the result of me trying to protect my camera from being mauled by the kitty!

*JLPT - Japanese Language Proficiency Test, lowest level being 4, highest being 1

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