Laundry nirvana in Morioka

‘Laundry needs to be done again’ I didn’t want to think about it.

After running around aimlessly for 6 hours in Tokyo on the great laundry hunt, and suffering the indignity of being offered a seat on the train, I wasn’t looking forward to this.

But laundry nirvana can be found in Morioka. A quick question at the hotel desk, a mapped marked up, and off I go. Found at the first attempt. Within 1 hour I am back, clothes washed and dried.

 

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A good beer and a good book

Another day goes by too quickly in Morioka. So I purposefully headed out to the Aeron Standard Diner and Bar for a local beer and maybe a conversation or two with the local patrons.

Maybe I need to lower my expectations a bit about the likelihood of striking  up a chat. I am so glad I took my book to read – just as a fall back, of course. Got 50 pages read which says a lot about conversations. Enjoyed the two Baeren Classics though! Aeron is a small place with a nice vibe, good selection of food, and friendly staff.

Next evening after another big day, this time I am intent on reading another 75 pages without interruption from those pesky conversationalists. Two more Baeren Classics, this time at the little Baeren pub in the basement of JR Morioka Station. Nice. Only got 64 pages read though.

Baeren is a micro-brewery in Morioka specialising in German style beer. Baeren was recommended by Meg, a Morioka blogger, so I thought I would give it a try. Goes well with books.

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No need to offer me a seat

And so here I was on the Chuo Line Rapid rumbling to Shinjuku, heading to the coin-operated laundry as directed by my Information Service friends back at Tokyo – back pack stuffed with dirty clothes.

I know the last hour had been hectic, and I might have looked a bit sweaty and tense, and I do have a nice head of grey hair, and I look like the age that I am (58).

But did the young man really have to offer me his seat? It’s all very good being polite. It hurt.

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Surely the laundry is here somewhere

Tokyo is a big place and I assumed it would be pretty easy to find a coin-operated laundry, pop the dirty washing in, sit around for an hour, and be back out touristing before you know it.

Here’s hour the next hours panned out.

  • went to the Visitor Centre literally outside the JR Metropolitan Marunouchi Hotel where we were staying. Very helpful, looked up Mr Google and gave me a map with 2 laundries nearby.
  • Went off in search of them. Failed to find either but found other shops in their place. Lesson 1 – don’t rely on Mr Google.
  • went to Shinjuku Information Centre, where the Tokyo folks suggested to go as a fall back. Mr Google was sourced again, another map, and a laundry name – only 500 metres away.
  • went off in search of it. Even after seeking advice at the Koban box, ‘not around here – we know all the shops’
  • rang Veronica in desperation. Veronica got advice from the Marunouchi Hotel folks. Great, got a map sent to me on my phone.
  • Went off in search again, map in hand (phone). Fail. Again. Another Koban Box chat, and this time further directions to a place in Tsukiji. ‘Definitely there’.
  • another 2 kilometres, a few laps of the blocks marked on the map. Bingo, found it! Not as marked on the map though.

I am a big fan of filling nearly every daylight hour with action when I am travelling. Spending nearly 6 hours doing the laundry is not my idea of a good day spent overseas.

 

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Strolling the Mitake Gorge

No need to go further up the valley deeper into the Chichibu-Tama-Kai National Park, strolling the Mitake Gorge riverside walking path caps off a great day that included the Mitake Tozan Ralway and the Musashi Shrine.

Starting just below Mitake station, the 4 km path follows the Tama-gawa downstream offering stunning natural river views, constant high flows rushing across rock shelves and around giant boulders. The moving water provides the soundscape. How can we be so close to the conurbation of Tokyo?

While the Guide books describe easy access to the Ozawa Sake Brewery, Mitake Art Museum, Gyokudo Art Museum, and Kushi-Kanzashi Museum, my suggrestion is the hidden gem of Cafe Aun for a relax and refreshment while poring over the exquisite ceramic works of Ryujiro Oyabu.

The day spent around Mitake is a great recharge. Have a go yourself.

More information about the Mitake Gorge and other local sites can be found at Ome City Tourist Information.

http://www.omekanko.gr.jp/us/us.php?m=sd&k=20

 

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Musashi Shrine at Mt Mitake

When Tokyo gets discussed, the only image conjured up by most visitors is concrete and people. Yet as soon as you leave the flat land conurbation, extensive hills, mountains and forests beckon. Ome in western Tokyo is one of those places where sensory overloads of central Tokyo can be left behind.

The Mitake Tozan Railway delivered us up the mountain. Now our feet take us around the Mt Mitake precinct and the revered Musashi Shrine. On a good day you can look back to the high rises of central Tokyo, Mount Tsukuba, Boso Peninsula, and the Yokohama Landmark Tower.

As usual our first stop was the Visitor Centre to grab a map. The day Veronica and I were there just a few visitors to share the wide pathways that wound up to Musashi Shrine. The stone steps leading up to the Shrine entrance were beautiful. But steep – as often is the case!

The Musashi Mitake Shrine is dedicated to the temple built by Buddhist priest Gyōki in honor of the mountain deity Zao Gongen in the year 736.

 

 

 

 

 

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Can the Mitake Tozan Railway get any steeper?

Mt Takeo is a very popular destination on the western edges of Tokyo. Maybe less popular but an immensely interesting place to visit is Mt Mitake in Ome City where your day can have three distinct elements – the Mitake Tozan Railway, Matsushima Shrine atop Mt Mitake, and the Mitake Gorge walking path along the upper reaches of the Tama River.

From Tokyo central it might take 2 hours to reach Mitake Station. The Lower station of the Mitake Tozan Railway is just 10 minutes away on a regular local bus. Weirdly though the bus stop is a couple hundred metres short of the cable car, with a very stiff uphill walk to Takimoto.

Like a backwards roller coaster, the train draws you up to Mitake-San station,  gaining 4oo metres over 1,100 metres of track. The views are spectacular. And with the usual Japan railway efficiency, the up and down trains slide past each other on the one passing loop.

Veronica and I visited during spring, with the line a blaze of colour.

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