Today was another day of traveling. My travels, however, were complicated by the fact that I couldn’t find a hotel to stay in – in three different cities! I was going to spend another day in Kanazawa, but because the 20 more or less affordable hotels I tried didn’t have any rooms available, I decided to look elsewhere to park my weary body for a day or two. Since I’d be leaving Japan from Tokyo, and because I needed to take a train from Kanazawa to Yuzawa in order to get a connection to Tokyo, and because Yuzawa is the unnamed town where one of my favorite novels, Snow Country, was set, I thought I’d try to stay in a ryokan there for a day or two.
However, the same thing happened – I checked about 10 different places and found they were all fully booked. So I decided I’d just go to Tokyo and spend my last three days there. Again, though, it took me over two hours of searching hotels to find a decent and affordable place to stay! I ended up reserving one night’s accommodation in a charming Tokyo neighborhood called Sangenjaya, in Setagaya district. I was a bit worried that it was too far outside the city, but in fact I was quite happy here for a night.
Once I arrived and checked in to my hotel, I decided to wander the streets in hopes of finding a bookstore with a decent selection of English-language novels. I did find several bookstores, but none that had what I was looking for. I grabbed a quick coffee, inadvertently sitting in a room reserved for smokers, and as dusk soon fell upon Sangenjaya I stumbled back into the fresh air and wandered down an alley full of streetlamps to see where they would lead.
About an hour later I decided I should get dinner, so I came back to the street where my hotel was and tried to find some homey-looking restaurant. I found an inconspicuous noren with the word tonkatsu on it, and so I climbed the stairs behind the noren and came into a room with three people who probably weren’t expecting to see anyone like me enter.
By speaking a bit of Japanese to them, though, they seemed to relax, and then pointed me to a table by a window with a view of the street.
I ordered chicken tonkatsu and a beer for ¥840 ($9.93), and was happy to see it came with steamed rice, miso soup, pickled veggies, and a small square of tofu. Aside from the deep-fried chicken, which was very good (especially after slathering it with tonkatsu sauce), this was a light and healthy meal. I sat there half-stunned at having stuffed myself so much, and for a while I could do nothing more than watch a TV program about Japanese seasonal vegetables that had the restaurant workers in absolute thrall.
Across the street was a small bakery, so I went inside and ordered an orange muffin (¥200/$2.36) for breakfast tomorrow – or, if I don’t have it for breakfast, then as a snack for later in the day. Again, not a particularly exciting day, but I was just glad I had a place to spend the night...