Posted by: aitzko | December 14, 2009

We explore Tokyo and get lost a lot.

Okay!  Picking up from yesterday’s post:  after the Tokyo National Museum, I got a cup of tea at a cafe in the park with much gesturing and pointing, which really warmed me up, because it was FREEZING and RAINY all day long.  Honestly.  Even with the umbrella and my raincoat, I was soaked through, you just couldn’t avoid it.  This would come back to haunt me later.

After that, I decided on visiting the Western Art Museum.  I know, I’m the only person who comes all the way to Tokyo just to go to a Western Art museum, but it looked cool!  It was a really interesting collection of art.  It turns out it was mostly collected by a Japanese man who traveled extensively in Europe, for the express purpose of creating a museum when he returned to Japan.  It was organized vaguely chronologically, but if there was some unifying theme, I couldn’t figure it out.  They had a weird mix:  some works by really famous artists, and some by people I’d never heard of before.  The good thing was, it was a very do-able museum – there was plenty to see, but not so much you felt museum-ed out.  My favorite part was a painting by an artist I didn’t know, of Venus – with a hammertoe.  I swear.  Who paints Venus with a hammertoe??

Anyway, I made it back to Christine’s and immediately got into a hot shower, because I was absolutely freezing and soaked to the bone.  Once we got all warmed up, we went back out again to pick up Cait and Moser!  This was hilarious – they brought an extra suitcase each for Christine, so that she could send some clothes and things home ahead of her, but this meant that between the two of them, for a week-long trip, they had six suitcases!  Definitely got some funny looks, and customs was confused.

The girls’ first day in Tokyo was fun, albeit confusing.  Two days ago, we saw the Imperial Palace Gardens, the Tsukiji Fish Market, and got a fresh sushi lunch.  Even so, it took us all day just to do that!  We got lost about a zillion times, and navigating the sushi transaction was certainly interesting – no English menu!  In the evening, we met up with Christine after work and experienced Ito Yokad0, the supermarket near Christine’s apartment.  But this is not just a super market – this is like a megastore that sells everything you ever wanted, and many things you didn’t know you wanted.  There’s a dollar store within the grocery store, and also a mini-amusement park, with rides for kids.  We of course got on them and took pictures.  We also experienced Sticky Pics, which is like a photobooth, but you can draw on it and put little cartoons on it when you finish taking the pictures!  It was a blast.

Yesterday, we had a really full day!  We went to Harajuku, and checked out Takeshita-dori, a famous street where tons of girls gather to buy trendy clothes and accessories.  It looks like Claire’s exploded and mulitiplied.  The cool thing about Japan is that everyone seems really well dressed, but also, you can wear pretty much whatever you want.  Nothing is too crazy.  There are also these girls who walk around in these elaborate dresses that make them look like dolls – Petrie wrote an entry about them in her blog, which is linked on the side of this blog.  We walked around there for a while, and then moved on to Yoyogi park, which was beautiful.  In the park is the Meiji shrine.  This was an awesome experience – we saw at least three weddings going on, and got to take lots of pictures.  It was a neat cultural experience.  After that, we saw some of the street performers outside the park, and made our way to Shibuya, where we visited Oriental Bazaar.  It’s a giant store with tons of affordable souvenirs.  We got all our shopping done!

The crazy thing about Tokyo is how huge and busy it is – no matter how crazy one section of the city is, you know it stretches out for miles. Shibuya was busy and all lit up, but so was Shinjuku!  We wandered around, but by this point we were exhausted and had been on our feet all day.  We met up with Christine to go to the top of the Government Building and get a view of the city, which is absolutely massive.  It’s just skyscrapers and lights as far as the eye can see.

So all in all, a great trip so far!  The only thing that’s put a damper on it is that the massive temperature changes gave me a cold.  I’m all sniffly, and I’ve got a sore throat, so I’m trying not to blow my nose around the Japanese who are a liiitle bit paranoid about Swine Flu.  I’m hoping that overloading on Vitamin C will get rid of it!

Today we’re doing a traditional Japanese lunch and going to an onsen.  I can’t wait!

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