Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Ah, Tokyo

What a city. Such a huge range of things to do and see. I would need weeks to get a real sense of the place. As it was, I got an overview and a strong desire to come back again one day.

A view of Tokyo from the top floor of St. Luke's Tower.

James' old Japanese teacher Michiko and her husband Hiroyuki showed us around Tokyo.
Some highlights:
We had a dinner of Okonomi Yaki, where they bring you a bunch of ingredients and you cook it right at your table any way you like it.

At the Edo-Tokyo Museum they had a replica of Tokyo as it was during the Edo period.

This was a replica of a Kabuki stage.

Meiji-Jingu is one of my favorite places in Tokyo.

The archway that marks the beginning of the pathway to the shrine.

The path to Meiji-Jingu.

The shrine itself.

James and I did a lot of wandering around Tokyo. We were walking through Yoyogi Park when we heard music in the distance. "Something cool is going on over there." We headed out toward this plaza area and sure enough, there was a hip-hop festival going on with music and - best of all - a break dancing battle.

This was right by Harajuku, which is where the goths and punks hang out. There were some totally fabulous outfits, like a goth girl wearing this long white fur coat and huge fur hat thing. Uh, I'm not describing it well but I was not game to try to take a picture after my subway incident.

Late one night we went to Shinjuku, the red light district of Tokyo. What a place. Historically, this was where the black market sprang up after the end of WWII. People could come here to get anything they wanted. Strange how it has kept that element throughout history. Now they have really stylin hosts and hostesses, I believe they call them. Dressed to the nines and walking around the street trying to encourage people to go into the bars, have a "date", etc. It was a cool place to see with awesome looking people everywhere. As a side note, the majority of the really hip looking people appeared to have their hair done by Jen LaMastra. I guess her teacher was right when she told her she had a very Asian sense of hair design.

Speaking of which, I decided to get my hair cut while in Tokyo. It was a cool experience with lots of pampering. The shampooing was very different. To rinse they used a dish and sort of scooped the water over they hair, and the water was oh-so-hot that if it were one degree hotter it would be too hot but it was absolutely perfect. This reminds me of something I've noticed here. There is such attention to detail. To give an example, we were sitting in a coffee shop and I reached for the sugar bowl. When I picked up the spoon, the way it fit in my hand made it feel like it was created just for me. The balance was perfect, the angle of the spoon exactly right. It seems like such care is put into everthing from the design of a room, to way someone hands you something, to the placement of the piece of tape on a package.

Anyway, the salon was great, and they brought me tea while they were cutting my hair. Here's a picture of my new haircut.

Back when I lived in Boston my favorite restaurant was Roka. Wheneven I talked about how great their yakisoba was, James would tell me that I haven't had REAL yakisoba until I tried it from a street vender in Tokyo. Well, now I have. And it IS really good (though I still think Roka's was pretty good, too).

James eating yakisoba.

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