Sunday, November 30, 2008

Tokyo Day 1 (tour book day!)

Tokyo...not sure what I expected, but it's really not that different than Okinawa...ok, it's bigger, and busier, and taller, and everybody wears a suit...but it feels the same. It's strange to go to a brand new place and not feel entirely like a tourist, apparently that's what happens when you live in Japan long enough :) Does that mean I'll feel like a tourist when I get home to CA? I'm sure I won't, but I'll enjoy whatever feeling I have going home!! :) Being somewhere new put me back into missing home. Anyway, the 3 of us went to the airport on Wednesday after school and caught the 7:05 flight - now let me tell you, Okinawa has NO security, my id was not checked once...the most I had to do was put my bag through the x-ray and walk through the metal detector. But I could have been some weirdo as far as they knew...STRANGE! Flight was fine and we landed, got our bags and headed to the subway. Pastor Wes had promised if we stood looking lost we'd have offers to help within 30 seconds - OH YEAH! 30 seconds later someone offered to help us and we were off! The subway was filled with black suits...and us and our bags - it was a pretty funny sight, but we made it to our stop without too much trouble. Then we proceeded to roll our bags down the sidewalk - asked a couple of people how to get to the hotel and FINALLY made it! We went to bed quickly because we had to be up for our tour in the morning by 6:30 so we could all be ready by 8! I'm going to cover the tour in this blog and the rest of the visit in separate blogs so I can keep all the pictures straight...yea right!

We woke up and Adrienne and I needed breakfast...we had missed dinner the night before :) We found a YUMMY coffee shop down the block from the Marriott (where we got a great deal thanks to Adrienne's brother Mark!) called Tully's - I had a bagel breakfast sandwich and a tiramisu latte - yummy! The three of us then waited in the lobby for our tour. A bus picked us up to take us to the bus depot to meet the rest of the tour.

The first stop was Tokyo Tower which is 13 meters taller than the Eiffel tower and used as a broadcast tower and for tourists ;) it used to be the tallest building in Tokyo but now that's the building the Ritz Carlton is in (which we stayed in...but I'll get there!) The view from the observation deck was amazing - it had started to rain, but we could still see a lot. I was fascinated by how many of the buildings utilized their roofs for parks!

Tokyo actually has fall...

Yes, I know, we were THOSE Americans, but they had this little viewing window so of course we needed a picture of ourselves

There's another little window looking down...

We were trying to get us and the view...oh well the fog works too...
Downstairs in front of the Christmas decorations

Next stop was a traditional tea ceremony and the viewing of the bonsai trees. Apparently the Tea Master studies for 10 years in order to be a professional tea pourer...CRAZY! That's like becoming a dr. or something...anyway, she goes through this whole thing with the water and the green tea powder (it's supposed to be better than the leaves...I didn't really like it though) and then the tea is served to the person sitting by the alcove...the spot of honor...and then everyone else is served after we eat our sweet (kind of like eating a sugar cube before the bitter tea)

He was the first person served, that's the alcove

The outside of the tea house
The grounds were GORGEOUS! I was so excited about all the colors!
This is my postcard picture - I think it's pretty good!
We weren't big fans of the tea, but the tea bowls are fun :) The green color and the foamyness was a little much - she whipped it with this bamboo wisk thing

The inside of the real tea room (we got the tourist version)
AWWW, my Japan mate is so cute! She told me I was a weirdo picture taker, but it doesn't count when you're on vacation

After the tea ceremony we walked over to the bonsai trees - they were really interesting, there were plum trees, apple trees, pomegranates and the typical evergreen - I had no idea how many kinds there were and they were all so cute and small.
This is the oldest one they have - it's over 500 years old...looks better than some of my plants :)

This is me with the 300+ tree out in the rain

Next stop was in front of the palace - you can see the gates and the government building, but not the palace from ANYWHERE! Even the buildings across the street don't have windows at the about good security.

This is apparently THE most popular picture we took a picture ;)

Next it was lunch time!!! Thank goodness...I was getting hungry! We went to the Four Seasons for the BBQ lunch. We all sat down and all of the sudden this woman was putting an apron on me...wasn't sure if we were going to be messy or if I was cooking the meal! Turns out they were giant bibs...I didn't make a mess, but the girls' bibs didn't fare quite as well :) After lunch we trekked around on the grounds looking at the beautiful gardens.

Ok, I understand I have a weird fascination with the trashcans and toilets here, but this was an automatic girly trashcan...with a special slot for the trash, no touching required!

After lunch we boarded a boat to go down the waterway to our last stop...we went under 16 different bridges - Adrienne thought I would take pictures of all of them, but I didn't...just one :)

Inside the boat
Adrienne, my gold star napper

Last stop was a Buddhist temple...same ole same ole at this point - but there were all these little booths/shops as we walked down to the actual temple so that was fun to explore!

The gate to the temple

Apparently if you pat the smoke on you it brings you good luck and heals whatever hurts where you pat...we passed on the experience

All the shops...on busy days I guess you can barely move
By the end of the day we were SO tired (and cold and wet) so we headed home to warm up and then went to H&M and the rest of Ginza street for a little retail therapy :) Didn't buy much, but it was nice to go shopping for the first time in months! After dinner at Quiznos (so not as good as home) we headed back to the hotel to crash....more to come....


Aimee said...

Looks like some fun times!!!

Cheryl said...

Looks like a fairly good tour! I love the postcard picture. You did good!