Thursday, April 24, 2008

Japan II - The Return

More Japan trip, comin' at cha!


We took a bus tour of Tokyo.

First stop: Tokyo Tower
It was nearly impossible to get a good photo of the whole thing given the crowded surroundings. This might have been aggravated by the fact that I was on a bus.

There were windows through the floor of Tokyo Tower's main observation deck.

A view of the Tokyo skyline from Tokyo Tower's main observation deck.

Tokyo is so densely populated that really the view looked about the same in every direction, adding a little bay here and there. So to visualize the 360° view, just do the following:

1. View this image on a laptop or other portable device.
2. Look at this photo, then close your eyes and rotate your body 90°.
3. Open your eyes and look at this photo again.
4. Repeat steps 2 and 3 until you have rotated the full 360°.

There. I just saved you the exorbitant $8 tower admission fee.

We got to walk around the perimeter of the Imperial Palace. This was the place to go for moat aficionados. Big, thick, imposing stone walls? Check.

Let me take a moment to mention our fabulous luck. The sakura gods smiled on us and we got to be in Tokyo for its cherry blossom season. This only lasts a few weeks at most, and the timing varies from year to year depending on weather conditions, so really we were lucky. Day 2 of our trip was considered the "peak" viewing day. The Japanese really take their sakura seriously; the peak blooming was front page news in Japan's English newspaper. We got to stumble and trip over all kinds of people sitting on blankets having their cherry blossom viewing parties in the parks and gardens. From the blossoms' first opening to peak is usually about week and then from peak until the blossoms fall off is about a week, give or take. So as our week in Japan drew to a close, we saw more and more falling blossoms. Even the falling blossoms made every step feel like a fanciful romp through a fairy tale. Or something. Maybe something less embarassingly cheesy. My point is, it was unequivocally gorgeous. Observe:

New and improved Imperial Palace photo - now with cherry blossoms!

Imperial Palace photo v3.0 - even MORE cherry blossoms

I can neither confirm nor deny reports that a certain group of four very tall female American tourists got separated from their tour group in this area by walking past the poorly described and demarcated crosswalk where they were supposed to cross the street and get back on their bus. Reports suggest that a very short-legged and very sweet (but nonetheless very negligent) tour guide may have had to literally run to catch up with this renegade group that was speed walking away because they thought they had gotten VERY far behind everyone else. [insert sheepish grin here]

Last stop: Asakusa, mostly to see Senso-ji

These blossoms had fallen off in earlier wind and rain and landed in a puddle.

After a long train ride home (hello rush hour!), we ate some fabulous yakitori for dinner. I gotta mention the food because it's the most efficient form of tourism there is if you ask me.

Stay tuned for more!


Leann said...

hmm... real Japanese food... my mouth is salivating.

azufelt said...

I am pretty jealous that you got to be there during the Cherry blossoms blooming. What a beautiful sight. I LOVE cherry blossoms. I also love yakitori, and I'm jealous of that too. (I'm sure the jealous has yet to cease, since it is only day 3 of travel log!)

Pickles & Dimes said...

Those cherry blossoms are so beautiful - sigh.

Kristen said...

that first one looks like the eiffel the flowers...thanks for sharing!

Reed and Liz said...

thanks for posting photos! so fun! i've never been to asia ... maybe someday ... you're a good photographer!