Day 7 - 2nd August 2001
Imperial Palace

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A guard tower
and the castle moat
I woke up today feeling unusually tired, even though I had a very early night. Maybe it's all the walking I have been doing, or simply the busy time I've been having catching up with me!

Yesterday, I had been daring and ordered a traditional Japanese breakfast rather than the usual American one I had chosen so far. It was rather strange. There was a kind of bitter-tasting soup, a selection of pickles, a couple of things I couldn't even identity, along with a piece of salmon and a burner, and some rice to go with it. The idea was that you cooked the salmon on the burner and then eat it with the rice. It tasted lovely, but I wasn't too keen on the rest of the breakfast. I'm not a big fan of sour tastes anyway, and this was a bit much for first thing in the morning. I decided to cop out and order an American breakfast from now on.

One of the original
wooden guardhouses
After that I had to move rooms for the third time, but again the previous occupant wasn't checked out yet, so I took all my luggage down to the main desk and left it with them, as they offered to take it into my new room when it was ready. I went out and took the train to Hibiya to visit the Imperial Palace. The royal family still live there, so most of it is not open to tourists, but there is a large garden that you can walk around, which contains a few old wooden buildings from the time when Edo castle stood on this site, the castle around which the city of Edo was formed. This city eventually became Tokyo.

One thing I found especially strange was the birds in the trees make an incredibly loud constant hissing noise, so loud that it drowns out the traffic. Going to a park around here is not a good way of getting some piece and quiet! In contrast with everywhere else I've been so far, the other people walking around the palace were almost all Westerners, most of them American. I chatted to a pair of older women from Washington state who were on a guided tour around Asia. The original moat which used to surround the palace is still there, and contained some interesting looking fish, and the odd turtle or two. There were also three original guardhouses which were in place to protect the royal family from invasion. In ancient times, Samurais were on watch here 24 hours a day.

One of the entrance gates
to the grounds
Afterwards I went into a trendy-looking café and had a toasted sandwich, which cost me nearly 8 quid! Even in the centre of London it would be hard to spend that much just on a sandwich and a coke. By this time I was feeling even more tired, so I went back to the hotel and fell asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow. About two hours later, I woke up and went back to the restaurant I went to yesterday for a meal. After that I went back to the hotel to spend a quiet evening reading my book, something I haven't done at all since I started my trip.

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