It's midday, guess I did need that sleep, the classical cat music blurring through my brain still as I jolt awake thinking I've missed the flights. Small's been waiting patiently and decided on the one of two outfits I left her and I've wrenched myself out of bed.
I surprise her with a little visit to the rooftop terrace where she's wowed by the views, as am I, with the Tokyo Sky tree clearly visible in the background and skyscraper after skyscraper lacing the vast heights that we're surrounded by.
Off we set walking to make something of the day and we find her much-loved chicken sticks for brunch. We then head to Harajuku to visit the Meiji-Jingu shrine, after 3 visits that left us no time to do so and I'm extremely glad that we did make it.
The huge Torii gates beckoning us towards the shrine are set atop a backdrop of ancient reaching trees and beautiful woodland area. It's so elaborately decorated with masses of gold edging and old dark wood immaculately sculpted that we barely notice the hundreds of folk there. After a few lovely and serene hours, stocking up on tea from a local mountain village and getting a few last souvenirs we head back to get some food.
On the subway I've become a full blown Karen, or maybe the two entirely separate groups of other tourists on the train are managing to piss me off royally are being especially cuntish. Three girls, dressed up in cosplay looking adorable but that's where it ends. They're talking so loudly, publically and with so few shits given to the culture of train etiquette, only one wearing a mask, and I'm feeling my fists itch. I'm not the only only casting them annoyed looks though, they're talking about how 'you can't truly get into the anime culture without having done yada yada....', what about the trainful of culture that you're actually in and pissing off right here, dickheads? The next ones on my Karen hitlist are very American, talking loudly about some element of the Japanese transport system that they disapprove of, swigging beers (also not wearing masks). I'm relieved when all the disrespectful bastards have all fucked off and it's quiet once more.
We head back to Ameyoko Street to find food, looking for a very illustrious sushi restaurant that I was foolish to think we'd get seated at, and head to the neighbouring restaurant instead, also a conveyer sushi place, and get seated. This feels like a truly Japanese place to eat, filled with nearly all locals and a sushi chef diligently creating the wonderful plates right in front of us.
I order sake with mine, and it's very very delicious, almost too much so, as I'm thinking of squeezing another bottle in before we leave, until realising that Small is eating plate after plate of raw fish in my warm and fuzzy presence and I should maybe hold back a little.
We're just about to finish, when a chap (expat) approaches us from the next booth, explaining that he's so very happy to see people coming to eat here, as it is a true representation of the gorgeous dish, and how lovely it is that Small has been given the opportunity to come to Japan, it being a place he visited and never returned from, having wishes he'd been brought in his childhood.
We saunter through the busy shopping street taking a little more of it all in and having one last diabetes-inducing crepe and head home.
On walking back to our hotel for the final time, I reflect a little on the sushi place bloke said, and get quite teary about it. It has been a wonderful opportunity, for the both of us, and I appreciate that we've had the chance to spend the last 10 incredible days here seeing it all and soaking everything in. I realise it's been my favourite solo adventure with her yet, and she's transfixed on the return trip that she's hanging onto me saying would be in 2-3 years. I figure out I'd better put my annual leave request in early and graft at saving if I'm to achieve the same again on a similar level, especially as I'd be wanting to travel around the beautiful country a little more next time with her as well.
We nip by her beloved Family Mart to stock up on the abominable sandwiches she loves and a handful of indeterminate whiskies and sake (maybe some shochu too, I didn't google translate the label), and we're back at the hotel to try and squeeze our last few goodies into the suitcase.
It's been wonderful, peaceful, and eye opening. Japan has given me more than I ever thought it would, and opened my eyes to the many possibilities of exploring this magnificent country again. The sake has worn off too now, so maybe I'll not forget my passports, or child, as we head to the airport.
Sayōnara Nihon, you'll be much missed and forever cherished.
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