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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JR Metropolitan Hotel Marunouchi, worth the splurge

Fair to say that 5 Stars is punching well above my usual accommodation level when getting around Japan. 3 Star business hotels are the norm. The JR Metropolitan Hotel Marunouchi (Tokyo) has such a good reputation and is close to transport – in fact, right next to Tokyo Station. Forget the cost I say. Less inheritance for the kids.

Things are looking pretty special when Reception is on the 27th Floor. The grand foyer (is that what it is on the 27th Floor?) includes fantastic artworks and a very large model railway. And of course the usual super attentive and courteous staff.

The King Corner Room had luxurious furnishings complimented by an expansive view north and east across iconic places like Asakusa and the Tokyo Skytree, as well to the expanses of this great city.

A great place. Value for money? Yes certainly, especially for a couple of special nights at the start or end of a trip.

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Cafe Aun quiet beside the Tama River

From the riverside walking track only a small wooden gate sign lets you know that both a gallery and cafe lie on the other side. The short path leads you past kid’s bikes, a cubby house and a deflated football that tell you this is an everyday backyard

The Aun Cafe sits in the back of the house with magnificent views over the upper reaches of the Tama River, close enough to hear the constant flow of rushing water around volcanic rocks seemingly deliberately placed to create a cluster of rapids.

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Akagi-goe section of the Kumano Kodo

The loop from Hongu Taisha to Hosshinmon-oji, on to Funatama-jinja and then on to Yunomine via the Akgi-goe section of the Nakahechi route is a very popular day walk. A short distance from Funatama-jinja, the route crosses over the Otonashi-gawa. A poem from 1158 reflects the spiritual significance of this place: Although the waters of the Otonashi-gawa are shallow, crossing them washes away the depths of impurity.

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