Drenched, I retreated to my hotel to re-charge my phone and myself.
After snarfing down two containers of Cup-O-Noodles, I thought a hot bath would be nice. The tub was very deep and very short which required me to assume a sort of crouching position which was not very relaxing. I lay down on the hard-as-slate bed “for a few minutes,” while my phone powered up. The rain had only increased in intensity and it was hot and humid. I got up and tried to figure out the free-standing device I assumed was an air conditioner.
After pressing half a dozen buttons, it did generate a low—not palsied—wind.
Maybe I should just take a nap. No! I was not going to nap on my first day in Japan. In a minute I would get up and … and ….
An hour and a half later I woke to the sound of a hard downpour. It was only 2pm. I donned the flower-print rain poncho I had bought in England two years before and headed out, this time plucking up one of the clear complementary hotel umbrellas, which wouldn’t clash with my poncho.
I walked to Hamarikyu Gardens, only taking one wrong turn in the one-mile route. The wind kept gusting and pulling my umbrella inside out. When I pulled it back, water shed down on me as if I had no umbrella. The poncho did its job, but again, I was slipping around in my flip flops.
As I paid my 300 yen admission fee, the young woman cashier looked at me blankly, which told me she thought I was a fool. I appeared to be the only customer of the day as I sploshed across a muddy expanse and plunged into a wood. I passed two other tourists who were clutching at their clothes and hurrying in the opposite direction, to exit the gardens.
I didn’t take any photos because I didn’t want my phone to get wet, but the gardens had a kind of dismal beauty in the rain.
I arrived at the point where one could board a boat for a “cruise” up the Sumida River to Asakusa, a bustling neighborhood with several sites I wanted to visit.
The boat ride was meh, not only because of the rain and decrepit state of the boat, but because the riverfront was all hideous tower blocks and utilitarian bridges. A woman in front of me stood up and banged her head on the ceiling. I loved that someone had taped up too-short pieces of foam to try to prevent this.
Off the boat, I splashed a half mile through standing water to the Amuse Museum, which isn’t about amusements but which contains a collection of handcrafts, like clothing made from rice sacks that people creatively made when times were hard. It was closed for the day.
Onward. It wasn’t cold but after hours of rain I felt shivery. A street vendor was selling steaming gooey-soy balls on a stick slathered with a maple-y tasting sauce. I don’t normally care for maple, but they were divine.
All the wet plodding became worthwhile as I entered the precincts of Sensoji Temple.
I huddled under a nearby overhang, ate my soy balls, and watched other people who knew what to do bought fortunes.
What you do is: shake the metal box, let a numbered wooden stick fall out of a hole in the bottom, then open the corresponding drawer to retrieve your fortune.
Here’s my fortune:
Luckily there were Chinese and English translations on the reverse.
Unluckily, the English didn’t help much. It seemed to boil down to, “You’ll have some good and bad things happen.”
If you really got a bad fortune, you could tie it to this rack. I’m not sure what happened next.
As it began to get dark, I found the train station to return to my hotel. Unlickily, it turned out there are two stations with the same name operated by different train companies, and I was at the wrong one. Luckily, a passerby told me how to get to the right station, “Walk one block, turn down the alley, then go down stairs.”