After our whirlwind tour of the southern coast of Japan (Hiroshima, Miyajima, Kursashiki, Osaka, Nagoya) we returned to Tokyo and our visiting friend, Peter, was able to start seeing what Tokyo was all about. Because of my work, Peter went off on his own for large portions of the day and we caught up in the later afternoon/evening to visit places together. It’s getting to the point where I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen Senso-ji Temple (I may start just giving people directions there and skipping it). Although, this time around Peter did find us a pretty tasty little soba place nearby.
That night we went to a Kobe beef restaurant for dinner. It was a six course meal that started with bread/cheese/proscuitto, salad (with two pieces of Kobe beef), pumpkin soup, the entree of Kobe beef, vegetables, and rice, then green tea ice cream with creme brulee (I believe made with bean paste). All courses were quite spectacular. As we were leaving, they even gave us three vacuum sealed pieces of Kobe beef jerky (which normally goes for over $15 per 1 inch by 2 inch piece).
The next night the three of us met up with some local friends at their tapas restaurant for a birthday/dinner celebration. Everything was fine and dandy until later in the evening when I apparently had some sort of inexplicable meltdown (about carrying our friend’s camera, of all things). Even now I’m no sure what the hell was going on in my head. But I did apologize…even putting a drawing of a frown face on Peter’s bedroom door….and all was forgiven by the next morning.
Peter left on Thursday and life returned to normal. Randy and I continued exploring new neighborhoods the next weekend, checking out Sugamo. A quick look online explained this area as Granny’s Harajuku. Now, Harajuku is a neighborhood popular with teen age girls, where you can buy outlandish outfits and parade down street looking like a cross between an anime character, a slut, a goth, and Little Bo Beep all with the same outfit. It’s fascinating.
So Sugamo was where these same girls would go when they are in their 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s. It was shocking how much older this neighborhood skewed. It was mobbed with elderly women buying clothes elderly people wear, surrounded by Chinese herbal remedies. Generally, the neighborhood doesn’t have much to offer for the tourist, but it was interesting to see what attracts a very specific (elderly woman) population.
Nearby, however, was a lovely large park called Rikugi-en Garden, which we explored just before sunset.
Then last week we had ourselves yet another earthquake. Since I live and work at home, every earthquake I’ve felt so far has been while in the apartment. It beats being underground in a subway car, I suppose. This was the second strongest of the four I have actually felt (a 5.1 with an epicenter about 60 miles east of here).
For the weekend, we explored two local parks (Kyu-Shiba and Hama Rikyu Gardens). One is just a 7 minute walk away, the other another 10-15 minutes from there. The second one was enormous and had some sort of Traditional Tea Ceremony Celebration going on that day, which was interesting to watch. I read on Time Out Tokyo that there would be fireworks that night in a neighborhood we’d not visited yet so after the sun had set we hopped on the subway and went to Adachi.
We’ve been told it’s very unusual to hold fireworks outside summer (it’s exclusively a summer time thing here for some reason). But it was wonderful to be able to watch fireworks without sweating in the 80-90 degree heat and high humidity.
And that brings us to today…which is one week away from our next visitors (Roy and Jason, from San Francisc0). I’ll skip Senso-ji Temple this time and do my best to avoid another meltdown.
Leave a comment