Japan Post #9 – Tokyo

Disclaimers:

1) These are just tourist pictures, the cheesy ones that everyone takes on vacation, and are not meant to be viewed as professional photography.  We took only one camera, a couple of zoom lenses and no lights: we were on vacation afterall!  We’re definitely not seeking employment with National Geographic here.  

2) We’re not experts on Japan, Japanese culture or religion so take everything I say with a grain of salt. Estimate that I’ll have my facts right about 54% of the time.

3.) To see our pro work (like weddings and portraits) and skip vacation pics, feel free to browse our blog by category!

Sniffle as alas, we are coming to the end of our trip.  Little did we know that we were saving the best for last.   Sam and I weren’t expecting to be too impressed by Tokyo… its probably just like every other big city in the world, right?  Wrong: Tokyo actually has unique character and energy and we wish we had more time there.  Our friends Susan and Erik joined us for this leg of the trip, which made exploration even more fun.

While there are some stories I will have to omit here (ask me about the Love Hotel some other time…), I’ll give you the general timeline.  We covered a lot of ground on our first day, starting out at Akihabara, the electronics district.  

From there we headed to Kappabashi Dori, home of the mythical Kappa and the plastic food district (see my post on food).  From what I can guess, a Kappa is part turtle, part squirrel, and part duck with a concave head.  A mischievous creature, he draws his power from water he keeps in that bowl head of his.  The good news is that he is polite to a fault so that all you have to do is bow deeply to him, obligating him to return the deep bow to you and spill his water and powers.  Here’s a picture of us with a friendly Kappa outside a storefront:

On to Asakusa (pronounced Asooksa) where we grabbed some noodles and did a little shopping before visiting the colorful Senso-ji at dusk.  I was finally able to purchase a fortune, which turned out to be a good one.  You are supposed to keep good fortunes with you and when I pulled it out of my purse to show a friend back home, I was horrified to find that I had kept a bus schedule instead of my fortune!  Luckily I think the fortune has stayed with me even if the paper it was written on didn’t.  Or maybe its just a lucky bus schedule.

Sam and I came to Japan with a mission: to find delicious Japanese microbrews.  We knew that the Japanese love their beer so it seemed like the right country for two beer enthusiasts to visit.  We had read about Popeyes before we left and couldn’t wait to find it.  This amazing brew pup featured microbrews from all over the country as well as some great breweries back home and elsewhere abroad.  Popeyes was a highlight for us, here’s a shot of us as we left Happy Hour very happy… the owner even made us members of the pub with an official membership  card and all!  Long live Popeyes:

After a few brews we were off to Shinjuku, the area that clearly inspired the movie Blade Runner.

 We found an arcade with photobooths and had some fun with that…

Then I had a mission of my own to fulfill.  Susan and I were both religion majors in college so I had to see if we could find Cafe Criston, a lounge that our friends Melanie and Brian had visited when they honeymooned in Japan.  Its quite fashionable here in the West to have an Asian themed restaurant decorated with Buddhas, koi ponds and other temple statuary.  Cafe Criston, on the other hand, is full of saints, cherubs, religious paintings and super-sized rosaries.  Japan is pretty much opposite world so this hip bar and restaurant made perfect sense in Tokyo.

On day two we visited the popular districts of Harajuku and Shibuya.  Harajuku is supposed to be the hot spot for Tokyo’s youth and, on Sundays, teenagers in fantasy dress are on display for all to see.  We didn’t see as many Bo-Peeps as we had hoped for but we did find a place to store our ducks (thank goodness):

Kids clothing in a hipster district?  Not exactly, try doggie couture:

Shibuya is known for having the most insane pedestrian intersection in the country, if not the world.  It is indeed pretty insane:

We turned in early to hit the fish market the next morning (see food post).  On our last day Susan and I sought out a famous yarn store and I was not disappointed… I am now knitting a jacket out of yarn made from paper and stainless steel.  Which begs the question of exactly what would happen if I tried to wash dishes with said jacket but we’ll figure that one out later.  In the evening we had a delicious eel dinner and hit the Ginza district, which I decided was very “shee shee fugu” because of all the high end shops and expensive fugu (blowfish) restaurants.  (Oh come on, admit it, you at least smiled at shee shee fugu… it was clever, darn it!)

While waiting for the train back to Narita Airport I started crying on the platform.  Pretty pathetic but I didn’t want to leave.  Our trip to Japan opened up a world of possibilities… in more ways than I was aware of at that time.  If you haven’t left what’s comfortable and familiar in awhile, do it.  Do it soon.  Do it now. 

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