Thursday, September 4, 2008

Return to Tokyo: Day One, Part One

This is Kyoto Station: I love this picture, because you have this incredible futuristic architecture juxtaposed with the woman in elegant traditional dress.

This is the famous shinkansen, or bullet train, pulling into the station. It was interesting to ride on this train, because although I was initially a bit fearful because of its speed, it didn't seem as if it was moving THAT fast (fast, yes, but not scarily fast). Back to Tokyo...yay!
We stayed at the International House, a hotel for scholars traveling abroad (you have to be a member or have a letter of introduction from a member--how delightfully old fashioned!). That's it above--it has a lovely garden, which you can see from the breakfast room (seen at right).
I-House is in Roppongi; this is a shrine located right next to the Azabu Juban subway station. I love this about Japan...
And after the loveliness of Kyoto, it was quite a change--and not necessarily an unwelcome one, by the way--I love big teeming cities--to be back in the Tokyo cityscape. I took this as we walked to a park called Hama Rikyu, located in close proximity to these buildings.
That's Tokyo Tower in the was built in 1958 and its design is based on guess what? That's right, the Eiffel Tower.
Shade was MOST welcome on a very hot and humid day (that defines the weather the entire trip, by the way--oh well). This shot reminds me of Central Park. Apparently there is a lovely peony garden--since they are amongst my *very* favorite flowers (and we can't grow them here in SoCal), I would so love to visit Hama Rikyu in the spring.
We took the "water bus" from this pier (in Hama Rikyu) down the Sunida-gawa. At least 14 different bridges gone under along the way--B. took many pix of them, but I didn't. It was lovely and cool out on the water. (By the way, I have a rule about travel: when you go to a new place, you must get up as high as you can, and if there is a body of water, you must go out on the water. Mission accomplished!) Our final destination: Asakusa.
This is the Asahi Beer Hall, or Flamme d'Or, designed by Philippe Starck; we passed it on the river. That is supposed to be a flame--but according to Wikipedia, it has another name in Japanese. Guess what it might be!! Self-evident, really... Onward to Asakusa.
This is the Kaminarimon (Thunder Gate) at the entrance to Sensoji, or Asakusa Kannon Temple--note the little heads beneath it for scale: it's HUGE.
Just beyond the gate is Nakamise-dori, full of little shops/stalls selling everything from cheap junk to kimono to rice crackers. I love these little wooden dolls all lined up...
We had a "lemon" shave ice--I use quotation marks because "lemon" = sickeningly sweet. And good.
I got my fortune...
...and because I liked my (very quirky) fortune, I kept it and didn't tie on to this rack, as others have done.
We saw a pagoda...
And some lovely flowers...
And these, which are ningyoyaki, sweets filled with red bean paste. They were making them right in front of us, so we ate them warm. Oh. My. I wanted about 10 more of them... but it's lunch time!!! Udon, please.

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