Thursday, March 27, 2008

Seven hours in Tokyo

The first thing you realize when you pull into Tokyo, hop off the Shinkansen, walk down the stairs, lose your train ticket only to be saved by the information lady, who can tell you are lost. Then it's back on the green line, transfer at the Shinjuku, head a few kilometre (not a spelling error) and exit at Harajuku... You realize that Tokyo is absolutely nothing like Nagoya and you are standing in front of the Snoopy Town with 150,000 other people.Which is refreshing, somehow, when you travel from city to city in America, although all are different they all have similarities. Turn right, there is Starbucks, look across the street, another Starbucks next to a parking structure.

Offering to be my tour guide, I meet an old friend from college, Yukie. She is doing very well, more professional and urban then I ever imagine. The first place we visited was an organic grocery store and restaurant.
This restaurant was breath of fresh air, as the idea of natural foods is lost in Nagoya. More importantly, like the American food supply, not all food is created equally. Some is organic and some is not. In Japan, most grocery stores have an organic section and a cheaper section, but you know, I have no clue which is which. They are all apples to me.Then Yukie showed me this, that green character above the character that looks like |= is the symbol for organic. So when I go out and shop in Nagoya, I need to keep my eyes open. Later on in the afternoon we went to a organic coffee shop, basically, Tokyo has health food.

After lunch, we headed over to the Meiji Shrine. This is were everyone goes to pray on January 1st. Everyone!With clean hands, we were pure and ready to enter the shrine. It's kind of hard to explain or even take a good photo, but this place is beautiful, and very peaceful.What you do, is you stand in front of those slats, bow, bow clap, bow, clap, clap, bow, throw some change in the slats and pray. If God like you, your prayer might come true. Of course you can't discuss what you prayed about.There was also a couple of weddings taking place too, the bride is the girl with the large white hat on.

Across the street from the shrine is this large park just full of more people. Even walking up to the park was interesting. For example, if you ever wondered where those Japanese figure drawings come from, it' this guy right here: Judging by the cash money to his right, it cost a couple thousand yen to get yourself drawn. Down the block from him were a bunch of outdoor food stands.There is a lot going on here, if you look close this guy is making pancakes. But then there is a bucket of shell fish out front, sometimes you need to wonder where that ends up.Then this guy is making omelets I think. We had just had lunch, so we were not really hungry when we walked down this block. But, Mike, when you visit, we will have to try all this stuff out.

Once we entered the park, we had this grand plan to find a quiet area. This did not really work out, people were everywhere doing everything.From playing music, blasting techno, walking dogs, riding bikes, running in circles, enjoying a picnic, there is no limit to what fun you can have here.There was this large group of people, kind of dancing with clear glass balls, streamers and sticks. It was nice to watch how free people are to express themselves.You can take the glass ball and roll it down your arm, across your back, well, your imagination is the limit. This guy was showing his stuff and had 30 or so people watching. This was more or less my introduction to Tokyo, and I really enjoyed it here. This post might make Tokyo look crazy, but this a very small slice of the city and there is a lot more to see. I'm all ready planning on visiting again, so stay tuned.


Atticus said...

Wow Tokyo is a bit different than I expected. For example I didn't know they had parks and a shrine. I always figured it was just a big city, all concrete jungle. At any rate the clear glass ball thing is called contact juggling, there are some cool examples on youtube. I actually tried it once, it's really freaking hard.


Demian said...

It looked really easy. I was going to walk up and start Droppin' Science
... but then I chickened out.

Atticus said...

That just means he was really good at it. Try and find a LaCross ball and start working with that, at least that's what was recomended on the internets.