Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Japan - Day 2

Day 2 – Jan 6
I woke up quite early, having slept poorly to say the least. I am not yet recovered from my cold, though heavy medication is doing some good to alleviate the symptoms.

I decided to go get breakfast while Chris caught a few more zzz, AND walked into the street looking for my first Japanese experience. Most places were closed, but eventually I found a small breakfast place open for business. The very polite waiter offered me a cup of tea, gave me a menu with lots of pictures, and then went on his way. OK, I can choose from a picture menu, so I chose the full breakfast, which included rice, pork, a
fried egg, a sausage, miso soup, extra seaweed, and salad. Proudly I pointed my choice to him and out came a barrage of fast Japanese, with lots of smiles and bowing, but clearly HE was not getting the point across.

So I raised my hands and smiled, and then went into deep meditation observing the other guests. It took me a while, but then I noticed that they were getting tickets from a machine, and giving them to the waiter. So I went to the machine, and lo and behold there I found the choices. So I prepaid behold there I found the choices. So I prepaid, got my ticket, and the world became alright again. A small victory, but a victory nonetheless! By the way,the breakfast was delicious.

Well fed and feeling at ease with the world I went to wake up Chris, because we wanted to catch a city tour at 9 am. We managed to get a little lost, but our priceless Japanese tour guide held the bus for us until we arrived at 9:15. The tour included a visit to the
Japan Tower (Japans lame attempt to trump the Eiffel Tower) for a magnificent view of Tokyo, followed by a visit to the Meiji Shrine, erected to the memory of the Meiji emperor, who in the late 1800s took the power from the Shogun and established Tokyo as the seat of government. It is a Shinto shrine, and according to our guide is the most visited shrine in all of Japan. Peculiar is that, in the first days of the year, entire offices come to pray for a prosperous new year for the company (so there were tons and tons of sarariman with suits, neckties, and even portfolios!

We drove past the imperial residences, and the parliament (here called a diet using the European style), and then took a lazy stroll through one of the imperial gardens. We finished the tour with a drive by the Ginza shopping center, which is equivalent to Fifth Avenue in New York, or the Nevsky Prospekt in St. Petersburg.

After saying goodbye to our friendly tour guide, Chris and I made use of our uncanny ability to negotiate the subway and train system, and took a private rail line to the port of Tokyo, and the Museum of Maritime Science. I have to say I am officially impressed with Tokyo. It is the cats meow when it comes to boldness of engineering design and beauty of the most utilitarian of port structures. The bay is absolutely breathtaking. The Museum is pretty awesome itself, with beautiful reproductions of many types of ships and great displays on oceanography and the utilization of the oceans.

We rode the rail to the end of the line, to enjoy to the max the scenic tour of Tokyo Bay. It was glorious, but after a long day of walking the warm wagon was putting us to sleep.
Back at home we went back to my morning restaurant, for pork rice bowl for Chris, and salad and curry for me. We both figure we can easily survive in this country :)

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