Watabori Park

6:30 AM. My last full day in Tokyo.

My second-to-last day actually never ended, since I came home at 1 AM and proceeded to talk to my sister for 3 hours. By the time I closed skype, I could hear birds chirping outside and decided that since I had yet to take a leisurely stroll around the area at 4:30 in the morning, now was the time to do so. I stuffed my phone and keys into my pocket and slipped out the door, thinking of a nearby shrine with some benches and a vending machine. A cold can of coffee while watching the sunrise? As my hand turned the lock, I doubled back into the house for a camera and a 500 yen coin. Now I was ready to go.

Outside, the sky was already pale lavender, though the moon was still up. I turned my feet towards Omiya Hachimangu, the nearby shrine famous for helping parents (especially mothers and soon-to-be mothers) raise good, healthy children. The soundscape changed as I approached the looming torii backed by dark forest eaves. Occasionally chirping birds acquiesced to the squalling drone of cicadas and other insects. I took the path to the side of the gate, quickly enveloped by dark foliage and the insects’ sighs.

I ended up ambling past the benches, allowing my curiosity to pull me towards some stairs I had noticed the day before. They led down to a park with a pond, some ducks, and some old people getting in their morning exercises. I stopped to photograph a blue heron stalking a fish and a middle-aged man avidly flying a remote helicopter. He was silhouetted against the rising sun as his toy droned in and out of focus. I took some dirt from the path as a souvenir, funneling it into an empty “pet bottle” (Japanese-English name for plastic bottle) with my fist.

This still did not satisfy my curiosity, which told me to explore a different way out of the park. As I walked on, I saw why – I had come across a fishing spot. 500 yen for 30 minutes; 700 for 1 hour. Opens at 9 AM weekdays; 8 AM on weekends. Shaved ice is 300 yen. I now have mid-morning plans, right after the pancakes I make with the last of my food supplies.

I continue on, then double back when an elderly regular tells me the shrine (and my house) are in the opposite direction. The torii swallowed up the dregs of the cicadas as I stumblingly meandered my way out of the woods. The sun shines brightly and cars flicker past on the main street. 6:30 AM in a quiet Tokyo neighborhood, and my last day has only just begun.

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