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Mpls, MN, United States

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Saturday, April 03, 2010

More Japan: Monday

Monday, the guys had to return to work, but we ladies took advantage of the beautiful weather to explore the area at the heart of Tokyo, the Imperial Palace Gardens and their surroundings. Sadly, I hadn't charged my camera battery, and it bit it after barely an hour. Sniff. April kindly offered me the use of her camera, but I don't have those pictures yet.

We explored the outer gardens, got a snack in the incredible, massive, deli/food court/market/bazaar hidden under one of the tall office buildings, explored the Imperial Palace East Gardens, and had a lovely (vending machine) tea time on the lawn. After that, we headed over to Akihabara, the tech district, which was a sensory overload onslaught of flashing lights, electronic music, and crushing crowds. We sought refuge in a seven story technology and entertainment store that was something like what you might get if you mashed together a Radio Shack, Best Buy, maybe a Sharper Image (remember those?), a comic book/game store, and a street fair. Despite being crowded with an overwhelming array of gadgets and associated paraphernalia, and a jingle that repeated constantly on all the floors and made us wonder how anyone could endure working there, it really was a relatively quiet respite from the bustle outside. (Which was fascinating, if one could find a patch of sidewalk from which to watch at a bit of a remove; I saw a couple of Bo Peeps and a few other confection-like pastel costumes, as well as a dude in tails and a top hat.)

In the evening, we took a long train ride out to Yokosuka, where the guys work, to meet them for dinner at a fantastic little Thai place. Yokosuka, which is the site of the Navy base, housed quite a few more Americans than we'd been used to seeing, as well as such institutions as a T.G.I.Friday's. I asked for the yellow curry, requesting "no meat, no fish," and was thrilled that it arrived with fried tofu, which I hadn't even seen on the menu. It was AMAZING.

(Early this year, far before I even knew I'd be heading over there, I'd been talking to a professor at the U about her time in Japan, and her difficulty as a vegetarian. "No one is vegetarian there," she told me. "Everyone eats fish. True vegetarianism just doesn't exist." We did see a very few places that were billed as vegetarian, and even at dinner at one of them, Saturday night, I found one tiny shirasu amongst my noodles. [You can Google that, but I can't say I'd really recommend it.] In my real life, I'm a pretty strict vegetarian, so I did miss out on eating most authentic Japanese cuisine, which I'm sure is to my detriment. Etc.)

The pictures I took Monday before my battery died (album here):

7 comments:

Ted said...

Sigh... Seriously, you don't even understand how jealous I am. Next time pack me into your luggage :-)

CëRïSë said...

Oh, Ted, I wish you (and David) could have seen Akihabara! You would have been mesmerized for hours.

The Churches said...

I am still perplexed by the Japanese Toilet... Do you rest your arms on that thing in the front? Is it just a hole in the ground? And, yes, out of everything, I am fixated on the toilet... Very plebeian of me, is it not?

CëRïSë said...

Adrianna, I think fascination with other cultures' toilets is fairly common--at least, that's what I tell myself to justify taking pictures of them! I think the part up front is mostly for flushing/plumbing, although it probably can provide emergency balance support if necessary. In other parts of Asia, I've seen flatter squat pots that really are even more like plain holes in the ground. Oh, and I have one more toilet picture coming, of the fancy ("Western") one in Chris's apartment!

BrianV said...

Great pictures. I too am fascinated by the toilet instructions--now I'm going to have to look up a picture of what the toilet actually looks like.

CëRïSë said...

Thanks, Brian! The photo I link to in my comment above is a Japanese toilet in the Tokyo airport. If you click to the next image in the album, you'll see a fancy "Western" one.

BrianV said...

Wow--that is pretty crazy--losing one's balance would definitely by my biggest fear! :)