Monday, June 21, 2010

A Long Time Coming and Going

So, the trip is nearing its end and I`ve had such difficulty posting this blog with full information, in part because my camera has no internet capability and in part because I have had little internet access. But I will do my best to fill you all in. I suppose I will start with Tokyo, the trip from last weekend.

We arrived on Friday, the 11th and boy was that a day. Our first task was to quickly acquire train passes, and then head to Odaiba, the city of couples. Understandably so, it had quite an amazing view both of the city and of the water, with many relaxing spots to view both. Odaiba, as I understand it, is actually a manmade island. After taking in the sights there, my companions and I, Laura, Fred, Sara and Myself, went to the nearby mall to do some shopping and some eating. Shortly after that we returned to our hotel in Tokyo proper. This was not the end of the night however, for we next went, as a group of 20, to Tokyo Tower, an amazing eiffel-like tower which offered a most beautiful view of Tokyo at night. I found myself wistful, looking at the beautiful city lights from 300+ ft up. After observing all that I could I visited the gift shop, roughly 10PM at this point, purchased a shirt, as I so love shirts, and then headed back to the hotel. Fred and I, room-mates, explored Tokyo at night for a little but headed back before 11:00 because.. well, let`s face it, the next day was far more interesting.

We began Saturday by taking a trip to Tsukiji fish market, a 400+ year old intricate system of fish shops, with an outer market for the common customer and an inner market for workers and priveleged shoppers, like stores and supermarkets. It was an amazing site to behold, in use since the Tokugawa era of the 1600`s. After going through a priveleged tour of the inner market by our guide Tom, we ate lunch just outside the market, a bountiful feast of tomatoes, tuna, clams, miso, and other such items. Tsukiji was a very interesting place and I wished we had more time to be there but the trip must move on, and so it did. Our next stop was Ginza, a shopping district. There is little to say about Ginza but I did visit an interesting paper shop where I retrieved some stationary. Next we went into the subway and from there we split into groups. Mine, consisting of Susan, Brian, James and myself, went to Akihabara. Despite what people think, it was a cool place. But before Akihabara we visitied Asakusa, a wonderful Meiji-era type street which had a full compliment of people and stalls to shop at where I picked up Jimbei and a Kimono. It also had a grand temple, which I was happy to visit and offer up prayer and thanks for this trip, as well as good wishes for the future.

Akihabara has great food, at really inexpensive prices. I had a full bowl of curry with Soba noodles for 300 yen. That is a full meal for roughly $3.15 US. But before we ate, we hired an adorable cosplaying tour-guide.. she was, in fact, a Rekishijou, History Girl, who was in Shinsengumi-wear. She was adorable and showed us this little known shrine to a fire god which she was embarrased to admit to worshipping but reluctantly did. Akihabara is also a great place for fandom and for affordable music and games and whatever an electronic person would want in Akihabara`s electronic town. After Akihabara, which was very lengthy, taking over four hours, we returned to the hotel and went to sleep. The next day was even better.

Shinjuku and Harajuku were the two places I visited Sunday, since we had to return to Mishima that day. Shinjuku was great. Fred and I split from the girls and found the way to Kabuki-cho, the red-light district of Tokyo. Aside from seeing some common people as you would see in NYC, I got the true feeling of the common Japanese day. Fred and I explored and we found a temple under construction, a shrine, and street vendor selling hand-drawn paintings which we HAD to purchase. If you don`t like to explore, don`t come to Japan but if you do.. you will find a whole new wonderful world. After Shinjuku Fred and I hit Harajuku, clothing central, and a great part of Tokyo.

I found wonderful shirts, of course I bought them, and a necklace accessory. But the most important and pertinent part of Harajuku was the discovery of the Meiji emperors shrine. That was a sight to behold and made the trip to Japan well worth it. After further eating, and meeting up with Laura and Sara, subsequently losing Laura, and more eating, we had to head back to the hotel in Tokyo proper. Sadly this was where the trip to Tokyo ended. The trip to Kyoto lay ahead on Wednesday, the 16th. We returned to Mishima on the 14th.

P.S. For anyone wondering on the food or what to bring along for such a trip, I will be making an addendum on returning to the states, so that you can grasp the full experience of what went on. For now, I will save describing Kyoto for the morning. As always, today was a full day of wonder and literal roller-coaster rides. Take care all!

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