Wednesday, October 1, 2008

A simplistic summary of a terrific Tokyo trip

A lot can be packed into four days. Just ask Sara, Aaron, Hisayo or me.

Sara is a friend I met at church camp in June. Aaron is her grandson, and one of the campers. Hisayo is Sara's Japanese friend (and now mine), who got married on Sunday. Sara and Aaron came to Tokyo from Indiana for Hisayo's wedding. And I went to Tokyo to meet up with all of them and experience the city.

A group picture (at Nikko on Tuesday).

Since there's so much to write about, this blog post has the potential to be lengthy. So I'm going to share the basic itinerary of what we did and saw and fill in some of the details later.

Friday: An evening of sitting -- on two busses and a station
I left Kuji by bus at 5:15 p.m., and rode three hours to Morioka. I've heard a lot about Morioka since it's the capital of Iwate prefecture. Morioka has a "city feel," unlike Kuji, and the basement of the station reminded me of a mall, which I enjoyed browsing. After waiting around for what felt like a long time, I finally boarded the Tokyo-bound night bus. With the bus windows covered and lights off, I was out.

Saturday: A museum, a festival, a shopping excursion and lots of people everywhere!
Seven hours and an off-and-on sleep later, I arrived at Ikebuko Station, (one of many in Tokyo) drowsy and disoriented, but suddenly energetic from the excitement of being somewhere new. I met Hisayo for the first time, and she took me to the hotel where I would stay the next three nights with Sara and Aaron. After breakfast, Sara, Aaron and I took a taxi to Tokyo National Museum, where we saw a lot of ancient Japanese art and artifacts. Not far away from the museum was a festival, where we joined a crowd being entertained by a man who made amazing balloon creations. I tried sweet potato ice cream for the first time, and that was amazing as well! Back at the hotel, we met up with Hisayo and went to the nearby, 15-story(!!) department store. Dinner was at a nice restaurant on the seventh floor of the store. Afterward, we spent some more time shopping and then walked the streets and enjoyed the night scene. We ran into yet another festival, and saw men carrying a shrine, just like I saw last weekend.

The view from our hotel room. There are skyscrapers on the horizon in every direction. Tokyo is so big!

Tokyo at night. Notice all of the bikes!

Sunday: Hisayo's (and Takeo's, too) big day!
Since Hisayo and Takeo are Christians, they had a "Western-style wedding," which means it was held at a church, and Hisayo wore a white wedding dress. However, it was still different from a typical American wedding. Two major differences were: #1 the rehearsal took place immediately before the wedding and #2 a group picture of all the guests was taken after the ceremony. All the guests boarded a bus to an extremely fancy hotel, the site of the reception. Since we had an hour before the reception started, Sara, Aaron and I walked around the beautiful garden outside the hotel. We enjoyed a seven-course dinner (!!) of fancy, delicious French food. After the meal, the bride and groom performed a duet, with Hisayo on the piano and Takeo on the contrabass. Everything about the wedding and reception was beautiful.

Monday: The wheels on the bus go round and round, ALL OVER town...err..giant city
Sara, Aaron and I took a bus tour of Tokyo and went to all of the following places: the Tokyo Tower, the Meiji Shinto Shrine, the Imperial Palace double bridge, and the Asakusa Kannon Temple. As part of our tour, we went on a 30-minute river cruise and also had a presentation about pearls at the Tasaki Pearl Gallery. And we drove by the House of Parliament and through some famous shopping districts-- Ginza, (a very expensive section with brand names that I'll never own, like Armani and Gucci) Kappabashi, (an area where they sell fake food that is in so many of the windows of restaurants in Tokyo) and Akihabara (known as a good place to buy electronics).

One of many window displays of plastic food outside a restaurant. Looks good enough to eat, huh?

Tuesday: A nice time in Nikko
On Tuesday morning, Hisayo met us at the hotel, and the four of us took a train to Nikko, a couple hours north of Tokyo. Nikko is a popular tourist and field trip destination, with its beautiful scenery and Japanese culture and tradition. When we arrived in Nikko, we ate lunch at a place where we sat on mats, took our shoes off and used chopsticks. I had a bowl of noodles (pictured below.) We saw some gorgeous architecture after lunch. Nikko was a great place to see some traditional Japanese shrines and buildings, and it was on my way back to Kuji. I said goodbye to Sara, Aaron and Hisayo, and traveled back to Kuji by shinkansen (bullet train) and then a bus. I finally arrived back to my apartment around 10 p.m.

Standing in front of a pagoda in Nikko.

So that's the brief (believe it or not) account of my mini-vacation. I'll have more pictures later. Sayonara for now!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It looks like you had a great time!! I was excited you posted a blog I have misses not having it the past few day!! Love ya!