October 9, 2008: “Day #7: Adventures in Tokyo, Part 2″

Thursday, October 9, 2008: “Day #7: Adventures in Tokyo, Part 2″


Today Lisa and I went on a few different adventures.  First we went to a Japanese tea store.  I have never seen so many different varieties of tea in one place in my life!  It was quite amazing and the teas were incredibly unique and like nothing I have seen in the US.  I also learned that REI is known as Monte Belle in Japan and everything is much more expensive here than at REI in the states.

We then went to a dish store known as “China Pete’s.”  It had very unique vases, china, and figurines.  It was quite fun to browse.

It costs $14.50 in tolls to drive from Atsugi to Tokyo (and that’s one way).  It was worth driving though as our feet are quite sore and the multiple train rides and standing room only on the train is quite exhausting at times.

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We went to the Imperial Palace today.  Visitors are not permitted to see the actual Palace except for twice a year when the Emperor of Japan opens it to the public.  Needless to say, today was not one of those days.  The grounds and gardens were beautiful and amazing!  I have some gorgeous pictures of the scenery and incredible rock walls.  Apparently this week a British man got naked and jumped in the dirty moat that surrounds the palace.  Lisa and I were so incredibly relieved it wasn’t an American!  Then we really would have been stared at today.

Afterward we went to Ginza (90210 district of Japan).  Talk about the bright lights of Vegas … well, Ginza puts Vegas to SHAME!  I have never seen so many shops, Bentley’s, Rolls Royce’s, and Maserati’s in one place in my life!  Lisa and I were dressed casually and we literally looked as though we were homeless compared to how dressed up the Japanese are in public.  The department stores have food areas with high end treats.  Their desserts are, needless to say, PERFECT!  Everything looks incredibly beautiful and absolutely delicious.  I’m amazed how nothing is sub pare in this culture and they only put forth the highest of quality.

We saw a … are you ready for this … a $157 USD cantaloupe today!!!!!  Yes, I really just typed $157 for a cantaloupe.  Granted the cantaloupe was perfect and by far the most beautiful melon I have ever seen and it was packaged quite nicely, but $157?!  How do you eat a $157 cantaloupe?  I stood there quite stunned with my mouth hanging open.  I wanted to take a picture of the most expensive piece of fruit I have ever laid eyes on but I wasn’t permitted to do so.

Additional Japanese culture: In Japan it is common for men to have mistresses’ later in life and it is considered socially acceptable.

Tomorrow we are going to the fish market and have to leave at 5:00AM JST.  Afterward we are going to visit the busiest intersection in the world – more than 2 million people cross the intersection on foot every day!  Then we plan on heading to the kitchen/restaurant supply district once again in an attempt to find six matching plates to go with the china pattern I purchased earlier.

I only have a few more items to cross off my shopping list so I’m excited to get those taken care of tomorrow.

On Saturday we have a few different options we haven’t decided on … we could drive closer to Mt. Fugi and visit the hot springs, go back to Kamakura and view more temples, or spend the day in Yokohama or closer to Atsugi.  I think I am leaning towards going back to Kamakura and viewing more temples – weather permitting of course.  Kamakura is my favorite place in Japan so far.

Comic books are all the rage in Japan.  Everyone reads them – young and old a like!  It’s sort of a bizarre obsession but it goes along with their obsession for cartoon characters as well.  I continually see people reading comics on the train and it’s a bit odd.

I told Lisa that I would love to come back in the spring to visit Japan when the cherry blossoms are in bloom.  I would love to spend time in Kyoto and more time in Kamakura – the temple and historical districts.  You could spend a month in Japan and still not see even close to everything this wonderful country has to offer.

By the way, the Japanese designed their streets so that if an enemy invaded their country it would be difficult to maneuver around … and they’re not kidding!  Their street system is bizarre and twisted (you really don’t want to get lost here!).  Yet, it really was quite ingenious of the Japanese to protect their large island as well as they did.

I hope all is well.  I’ll write more when I can.


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