Having given Sogenji the boot and I snap some exotic lids and depart back to Tokyo to see my friend, arriving into the station at about 4pm absolutely starving, so grab some peanut brittle for the walk.
Despite my sleep deprivation, I'm reasonably caffeinated though also unwashed since the last time we were together - so naturally I head for an Onsen upon hotel arrival. With five pools it was the most luxurious bath of my trip so I thoroughly soak my bones following a sequence of warm, hot, cold.
I'm panning out in the cold tub; between the lack of sleep, travel and caffeine the world is spinning to the point where I'm almost getting nauseous. Regardless I last around six minutes in these low temperatures and feel my dopamine baseline rising - I'm feeling lively again despite all the spin.
We head out to grab dinner, wander around and stumble into some karaoke for an authentic Tokyo experience. Finally we check out some gift shops for souvenirs and then happen into magic stone shop is literally a wizards wet dream; sounds of running water included...
After performing a coffee and writing ritual the next day, we say goodbye once again and part company. I take public transport over to the capsule hotel I stayed in at the start of my trip; mess about with sequence in the Onsen as usual and get some internetting done. Since I figure I'm somewhere in a 'service' modality of the time cycle I make the suggestion Regen install a bonding curve on their community pool. Beyond that I send my friend a card I was given during Pragma which might benefit a peer of his that was working on mangas.io when I met him years earlier...
On Friday the zipper on my wallets coin pouch breaks so I spend the day touring skate/surf shops looking for a replacement to no avail. However I do find a store with high quality goods that are reasonably priced so I pick up a pair of hard wearing baggies and a couple of fresh t-shirts.
It's a weird day; a friend who's writing a grant accuses me of treating him like GPT for not providing direct answers to his prompts which was particularyl unsettling as I was contributing most of the artefacts... tangentially the other friend I messaged the night before with a card sends out an intro message saying that both myself and his friend are in the same city and should get a drink together. I ask where he is and drop a pin with my location; within a minuite synchronicity strikes and he responds saying he's passing the capsule hotel!
I head downstairs to meet him and catch up; he's not in great shape as a friend committed suicide that day. Fuuuuuck. That's harsh - let's get that drink man. He seems pleased to have some company as things are turbulent his side; he had also just had a fight with his co-conspirator earlier in the day as well. Something in the air man. Despite the state of affairs he's in pretty reasonable spirits and given his love of Japan he seems pretty happy to become a tour guide to the area. We head for a drink in a lively hipster quarters nearby called Golden Gai and find room in a place called "open book".
The place is crammed but the other customers are friendly; the two couples in our immediate vicinity are both on honeymoon. We chat with them for a while and then spend some more intimate time catching up since it's been about four years since we saw last each other. Upon departure we wish each other well and I head off in search of some food to pad my stomach; particularly those fried Edamame beans... so damn tasty!
Saturday theres no longer room in the capsule hotel so I set off to find another place - the Uneo station hostel - which I'm absolutely delighted to find is about half the price; though of slightly worse quality. I have a call with Atkursh about his project and it's governance before heading out to explore Uneo which is just fucking crazy at night. Gambling, sex shops, bizzares full of funky freaky fashion and drinking houses - this place has it all!
Sunday is graceful; while following my feet around Uneo park (the one with Bronzor and Tyrunt lids) I discover and visit a beautiful flower garden. Pretty decent timing to play the "yes and" game as some Twitter friends are posting flower photos such. There's a zen tower here that was ordered for destruction but thankfully a crafty general declared it as property of a non-rivalrous group in order to preserve the beautiful structure.
At this point I'm starved for concentration time and wanna clean up my loose ends so take a few days to scrape by twitter bookmarks into Obsidian for later reading and enrichment; a lots been happening in the world and its been impossible to keep up with all the entropy!
Becoming increasingly aware that my time in Japan is limited and I'll need to return home soon enough I do some cultural exploration beyond Pokemon and temples by heading into the Tokyo Museum which hosts many beautiful artefacts.
Here I discover many beautiful stone Bhuddas, keen mechanical metal work, sparklingly sharp samouri swords from the endo period, elaborately precise prints of and pottery. Before my time at the museum is up I pay for a screening to learn of the artwork of a masterful monk who's name escapes me...
A friend of mine mentions that an Onsen out near the "Gundam wing guy was practically a spiritual experience" for him so I decide to spend my rather fragmented Friday retracting his steps. After some breakfast internetting I hop a train out to Koto city which feels like something straight out of Sonic the Hedgehog; namely because high speed train takes us around several islands inclusive of loop the loops, which is enlivening my inner child. I see where the game designers drew inspiration from.
Arriving close the Gundam base and quickly find the giant mechanoid which is indicative that I'm on the right island; setting off to find the natural Onsen I was recommended. There's only a couple of them near but responding to some photos I sent my friend he realises I'm on a wild goose chase. I head to the mall to check out the Gundam base and finally find a replacement for the wallet that broke; all good man - I enjoyed the exploration and the train ride alone was novel enough to make the trip worthwhile! Grabbing the same line home I delight in racing a bus on the motorway below!
The traditional onsen is still on my mind the day after and so I do some online research to find a purifying bath which comes through volcanic rock. I choose Musashi-Koyama Onsen Shimizu-yu which has two natural pools; a black rock kuroyu thermal pool and a rich gold rotenburo pool - both containing many natural minerals to nourish the skin and soul.
Coming in from these outdoor pools I take a wrong turn to open the door to a breaker room (electricity) before jump in to the indoor one and seat myself against its wall - ZAP!! "oh fuck, were in a pool of water with some dodgy mains on the other side... I better tell someone". Running inside I ask someone to translate for me and am told it's an install for the old people... phew. Cycling through through the different pools a number of times I leave both refreshed and exhausted!
Sunday I go for a long walk to visit Sensō-ji temple; an ornate grounds built for the goddess of mercy thats surrounded by stone warrior demons. Clearly mercy from those rather vicious looking guys. The wishing shrine is covered in gold and has some incredibly beautiful black and gold doors. As with most temples, they are surrounded with merchants peddling the beautiful commerce so with my dwindling cash I purchase a chocolate pancake bun thing with what tastes like it has about 2% coca in it...
Only a few days left I continue with my cultural journey and head to the Nezu shrine which is famous for it's hundreds of torii gates. Running through the gates to simulate a spiritual roller coaster I make sure to crack my head off a number of them - seems japan was built for people about a foot shorter than me. Stopping into a bakery on the way home on the recommendation of TimeOut, I grab a panda themed muffin to taste the skilled artisanship of Japanese bakers.
Tuesday I just feel like walking and exploring a bit so I take a look around the Uneo temple and investigate the symbology. I head off towards the Tokyo dome in search of some closed botanical gardens...
For whatever reason my feet take me all the way down to Chiyoda city which is a huge Island that's home to the imperial palace. I don't actually realise this exists until I pick up a semiotic trail that brings me past the palaces impressive, yet closed, gates. Sadly the moat and walls are faaar too big to climb as they had previously prepared for intruders like myself, several hundred years before my arrival!
Exhausted from my touring I'm about ready to fly home again so spend my last day around Uneo in the hostel baths before flying through Shanghai for a night. This is followed by Italy for another layover and then finally arriving in Warsaw Poland for a few days of workshops at Chinwags - which is in a hella bougie castle...
Ad astra ✨