Japan October 2017
We started in Tokyo, doing a bit of work, meeting old friends . . .
…and visiting old favourite places near Kugahara, where we used to live (Ikegami shrine and nearby favourite soba-ya, and the swimming club that was part of our Himalayas mountaineering training).
For a change, we decided to stay a few nights in Yanaka, one of Tokyo’s oldest neighbourhoods. Yankee House was the perfect pied-a terre to explore and had extremely peaceful neighbours and reassuringly well designed for the couple of earthquakes we had during our stay.
We were utterly puzzled by the permanent line-up of people (young and older, mostly female but some male, alone and in groups) in front of a tiny, tiny local shop. The first ones turned up around 8am, even on a rainy Saturday in October, and by midday the queue had grown to dozens. Turns out this is a very popular kagigori (shaved ice) shop. It has no more than 10 seats, so once you get to the head of the line, you do get to sit down to enjoy one of the many hip toppings (like pumpkin peanut butter), but the next 2 or 3 people to take your spot will already be lined up behind you. In the summer the waiting time can be up to 5 hours, I am told!