Saturday, 16 April 2016.
I have now been in Tokyo, and Japan, for just about two weeks. I left my second-last hostel in Tokyo, this morning, and headed towards the Star Inn, a few kilometres away. I decided to walk, instead of taking the train, as I had a few hours to spare before my next check-in.
I awoke to the news that there had been another earthquake in Kumamoto, on the southern island of Kyushu. This second earthquake registered at 7 on the Richter scale and caused much more damage to the buildings and roads than the first one had. 40 people were killed in the both earthquakes and around 2000 more injured. Being from South Africa I am not used to earthquakes, but even here, where it is more common, the people are still shocked when it does happen. I feel saddened for the people of Kumamoto, and hope they recover from this tragedy. I will have first-hand experience of the extent of the damage, as my journey takes me south, to Kyushu, and to Kumamoto.
Continuing my walk to Starr Inn, I crossed the Sumida River, walking past Tokyo Skytree, I came upon a park where a craft and food market was underway. It was great walking amongst the stores of local artists and food peddlers, and it gave me a sense of how it must have been in the ancient past. Walking there, among the friendly and jovial people, I got a sense of the more relaxed and rural lifestyle of Japan. I am sure to encounter more of this spirit when I start travelling south, next week.
The night before, I rented a bicycle and cycled down from Ueno, past Ginza and central Tokyo, to an area near Roppongi, where I partook in an International Speed Dating event, organised through Meetup.com group. It was great fun, but quite tiring because you only had 4 minutes to talk to a girl and then you had to quickly move on to the next one. It felt like Tinder on a bullet train. There were about 50 people in total and I was fortunate to have matched up with a very nice girl, a nurse, from Yokohama. I shall visit Yokohama in the coming week, to explore the city, to see the land, and to meet up, again, with the girl from Yokohama.