On Thursday, it was time for me to head back to Tokyo and the Ginza district. The return went off without a hitch, Fuji-San as beautiful as on my way to Kyoto. As we neared Tokyo, I noticed that a lot of cherry trees were blooming – many more than I had seen only five days earlier on my way down.
Despite the guilt of not fully using my half day in Tokyo for touristy things, I decided to rent a laptop at the hotel so I could transfer the three hundred photos I had taken to a flash drive and upload them to WordPress. I had grand plans of getting them all into blog posts, but it actually took a substantial amount of time just to transfer them. Hence why I am even farther behind posting pictures than I am even with writing.
The next day, Friday, I flew out to Korea in the late afternoon. This meant that I had the morning to get some last things accomplished before I left. I wanted to go to the post office to mail home some souvenirs and items I just don’t want to carry for the next two months. I figured I’d have plenty of time to mail the package and check out Ueno Park’s cherry blossoms before checking out. Well, whenever I make that assumption, it’s just begging for something to go wrong.
I set out to walk what looked, on the hotel map, to be about six blocks laid out in a grid format. It wasn’t. Well, it may have been six blocks, but it wasn’t a grid, and I got fairly lost. However, I finally came across the post office, only to find out that they didn’t take credit cards and didn’t have an ATM. That threw a bit of a wrench into actually mailing the package!
I headed out of the post office, determined to find an ATM, sure I was going to miss seeing the cherry blossoms, and wondering frustratedly why everything has to be so hard when you don’t speak the language. Not being able to communicate means that some things we take for granted are next to impossible. I’m gaining more and more sympathy for toddlers!
I found a convenience store but it didn’t take my card. I headed to a big pedestrian overpass, hoping to get my bearings. I got there and realized I was only a couple of blocks from my hotel – that windy road I had taken meant I had pretty much gone in a circle! I popped into the hotel to ask directions to an ATM, and also got directions to a closer post office. Of course, the post office didn’t open till ten, but by the time I got there, I only had a few minutes left to wait. My 20 minute errand was taking 4 times as long as anticipated.
Once in the post office, the nice lady at the counter pointed out to me that the envelope the hotel had given me was the equivalent of priority mail, and too expensive. She helped me repackage my parcel, even running back to grab a handful of candy to throw in. She either wanted me to join in an international candy smuggling operation or was trying to be welcoming to the poor American!
Finally done, I raced off to Ueno. And when I got there, what had been an avenue lined by bare branches less than a week earlier was now crowded with people and surrounded by trees loaded with pale pink fluff. It was glorious – it looked like it had snowed on the trees – and I felt very lucky to have seen it. I wandered down the avenue with the masses of people enjoying the blossoms. I can only imagine how crowded it would be when the actual cherry blossom festival started the following day!