I get up early; Unusual for me; Breakfast at 8am. Next stop is the post office. I need cash. But the ATM is still offline. I am running out of money. Next stop is the emperor palace. Three extremely long queues. And an interesting concept. I queue is filling up with people, one is wainting and the third queue is proceeding. The next queue is in front of the security check; without a backpack or handbag I can pass. Another checkpoint only checks my pockets, but lees intensive than a bouncer in front of a German discothek. And another queue.
Slowly we proceed to the big gate. I meet two swedish guys. We chat a little bit. Then I arrive the gate. Usually this is as fas as you can go. Now I am allowed to pass. I walk the way up to the inner palace area. The area in front of the gallery has the size of a football field. I find myself a place in the middle. This is timing. In this moment the japanese emperor is starting his speech. I try to take pictures blindly with the camera far over my head. Too late I recognize that the camera settings are at 1600 ASA. But the pictures are ok. The speech is over, everyone is celebrating. A group next to me is shouting “Bansai”. Funny. In Europa you only say Bansai before plan to try something stupid.
Then I get flushed out. No chance to resist the stream of people. 20 minutes later I am back at the street in front of the palace. I decide to take another round and queue again for the third speech. The second is running now. The queue is shorter this time. I am still impressed how they organize this amount of people. This time my position is not that good. I have reflections in the window and no polarisation filter at hand. The speech, The celebrating people, alle the flags.
At 12:30am I am back at the train station. The dragon dance takes place at Oazu shooping depato. The dragon shall eat all the bad spirits. He is in company of Ebisu, the deity of luck, and people with drums and pipes. They are walking from shop to shop.
1am. The tea ceremony is just around two corners. Why not pay a visit. After the ceremony I have chat with the master. I learn, that there is a meaning in the position of the wipe (?) at the belt: You wear it at your left side. Because this is the position of the sword and a tea master doesn’t carry a sword. There is also bushido version of the tea ceremony. Here you carry the wipe on your right. I am impressed how he folds the wipe with one hand in one single move. I try it. No chance.
Back to the hotel; a brief stop for Tonkatsu (lunch); then the shinkansen to Ueda. I only have 1000 yen left. Enough to get to Bassho but not for the way back. In Ueda I find a bank; no money; I ask the JR office and the police; the Lawson clerk; no chance for foreign credit cards. I call the hotel that I will arrive late. Lucky for me that I have my mobile with me. I call because I have ordered dinner and I hope I can eat it delayed.
The hotel owner picks me up at Bessho train station. The dinner is waiting at my room. Small portions, but plenty of them. More than usual. Because of New Year. Lucky! The day is complete (without money). Next stop: hotel onsen. Extrem relaxing. There is some snow around the pond. Not much but it is ok.