Monday, June 17, 2013

Wandering Around Tokyo - Day 1

Train Station and Cute Little Vans
We left town on Friday and after landing in Portland, OR, we hear that all of the flights leaving have been delayed or cancelled due to a problem with their fuel system. Fortunately, it's repaired by the middle of the day and things are back to normal by the time we fly out for Narita, Japan, on Saturday afternoon. We arrive late afternoon on Sunday after losing a day by crossing the International date line.

Plastic Replicas of Lunch Offerings

Phone Booth
Today, Monday, was spent getting our Japan Rail passes for the week and exploring one of the temple grounds near the train station shown in the first photo. Kind of odd in this land of technology gone wild, phone booths are still very common. This phone booth is on the temple grounds. Lunch was in a noodle restaurant and was very good. Much, much better than the American view of ramen.

Temple Gate

The grounds were beautiful, peaceful and you forget that you are surrounded by city as far as you can see. There was a small pond that filled with giant carp and turtles. In addition, there was a special floral display with thousands of ?? blooming. Each group of flowers was labeled (I can't read any of it!) identifying the particular species.

The paths through this garden were all very well maintained and no one ventured off of the paths or cut through the switchbacks. There are some odd behaviors compared to Americans. On the train and bus rides, almost no one talks. On the temple grounds, everyone talked in subdued tones. No one used their cell phones on the trains or buses or even in the restaurants. Even though just about everyone had one.

This is my niece using a wooden ladle to wash her hands before going into the temple grounds. Everything is spotless without a single bit of trash littering the grounds or the street. The trains look well kept with no evidence of any abuse to the equipment.

After a delicious yakitori dinner, we went off to find the old electronics section of town but it has turned into an anime area with many girls dressed up handing out flyers kind of reminiscent of walking around Las Vegas. We went to a huge electronics store with six floors of just about any kind of gadget you can think of from cameras to major appliances. There were more than a few appliances that were controllable with your smart phone. Even the vending machines were pretty entertaining.

BTW, Internet around here seems to be pretty fast...


Unknown said...


I've always wanted to go to Yodobashi

Well ? did you buy anything ?

with so many people living so close it doesn't look that busy

Riding the Wet Coast

Trobairitz said...

It is odd to think of Japan as the Las Vegas of the East. I wonder if it was just that area of that town or if there is more of it in Tokyo and other areas.

The food sounds wonderful and the temple grounds lovely. Nice not to have everyone chattering on their phones on the trains and in restaurants.

redlegsrides said...

Good stuff Richard! You and Bridget appear to be having a good time. I like your cultural differences notes...keep them coming.


RichardM said...

I thought that you might spend a lot of time here. I hear that some people spend days (and many thousands of ¥ here!). An entire floor of just camera gear. The prices were higher that the same item in the U.S. so lots of looking and very little buying. I came out with two forks and a serving spoon. I'm not their favorite type of customer.

RichardM said...

It really isn't as crowded as I expected. The exception is the train last night.. It was pretty packed even at 9:00pm with people heading home from work. Not just standing room only but packed enough so that you wouldn't fall over even if you weren't holding on to anything.

RichardM said...

I think it is just that area of town, Pretty odd to see all these people, men and women, dressed up as anime characters.

So far, the food has really been wonderful and very simply prepared. All of the fruit and produce seems to be perfectly ripe or it isn't on the shelves. This makes food kind of pricey.

RichardM said...

Lots of cultural differences but not at all unexpected but some things like no talking stuck me as odd. Our group was definitely the loudest ones on the train especially since no one else was saying anything. Loud Americans I guess...

Martha said...

Richard, You entered Heaven when you entered the temple grounds. The irises, the torii gate, the path, the quiet, the respect.

One of my favorite books (my copy is nearly spineless now) is Lost Japan. I think you would love it.

I'm happy for you.

Trobairitz said...

Pricey food. but it sounds as though the quality is high, which is good. I don't mind pricey so much if the quality is there.

Coop a.k.a. Coopdway said...

All new to me Richard, thanks for sending it FARther east.

RichardM said...

All new to me as well. The one thing that has surprised me is that I can still pick up words and phrases from simple things like announcements over the PA system. The spoken words aren't completely foreign. The writing is another story. I can still remember some of the hiragana and katakana but it is pretty rusty.

RichardM said...

I don't know about heaven on earth but it is definitely quiet and relaxing in these areas. Actually, the only really hectic place has been on some of the subways during rush hour. Haven't encountered any "pushers", i.e. those hired by the train to pack more people on the trains but some of them have been pretty crowded.