Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Please sir, can I have some more?


Shibuya Crossing
So I've mentioned already that Heather and Tim live by one of the busiest train stations ever. One of the side-effects of this is that they also live by one of the busiest intersections ever. The arrangement for this intersection is pretty impressive. They have lights, of course, for all the cars and the cars follow a normal pattern. But then the cars all get a red light and the automotive traffic comes to a complete stop. Then all the people get to walk. This winds up being hundreds of people walking from all directions and the center of the intersection just becomes a sea of people.

It's even more impressive at night because of the lights that are reminiscent of Times Square.

The cars.

The people waiting.

Day 6: Saturday
Heather and I took an hour long train ride out to Kamakura.

We packed lunch. This was actually quite the adventure all week. I am on a super restrictive diet and Heather was incredibly kind and considerate. She planned and prepared all kinds of things and worked hard to make sure I could eat everything without getting sick. It was really great.

We started the week by trying to make sushi-style rolls. We took sheets of seaweed, loaded it with rice and then veggies. This is actually a lot more difficult than it sounds. It takes a lot of practice to roll it right so that everything fits and stays loaded. Our combinations were also not the most flavorful. (The secret I think is rice vinegar. I bought some when I got home. Makes a world of difference).

On this Saturday, we switched it up and got spring roll wrappers. These were quick and pretty easy. We filled them with lettuce, carrots, cucumbers, bean sprouts, and shrimp. Even Heather thought they were pretty good.

When we got to Kamakura we walked up to the temple grounds and ate our picnic at the nice picnic tables. There are not a lot of places in Tokyo that have real picnic tables, so it was kind of a fun treat.

This is the main temple.

Heather actually has the rest of the pictures I took on this little jaunt. My camera batteries ran out of juice. It felt like a perpetual problem -- probably because I was trying so hard to be a good Japanese tourist and take pictures of absolutely everything. Anyway, I hadn't charged my spare pair, so Heather let me use her camera.

The temple was really cool and there were statues of Buddhas all over. Then we walked up a path that took us up the side of the mountain. It was really gorgeous, and we could look out over to the ocean. It was a sultry, steamy, super hot day, so everyone was out in the water and there were a lot of windsurfers, which was pretty cool. And then a huge hawk glided by us.

When we walked back down, we took a little side path that took us into a cave. There were people working on some statues in the main cave. We couldn't figure out if they were carving the statues or just restoring them.

The path continued and we walked farther and farther. We had to crouch down, and ended up doubled over, squeezing through these tiny spaces. Honestly it creeped me out a little. Being squished that tight in the dark isn't really my idea of fun, so I kind of skipped the room we were headed toward so that we could just get out of there.

After we finished at the temple, we walked down the street to a giant Buddha statue. Ok, I'm sure that there are more technical names for all of these places, but I don't remember all of them. At any rate, in Kamakura there is a giant Buddha. We read how tall it is, and Heather said it is actually taller than the Statue of Liberty (not counting the base on the Statue of Liberty which is how it gets all of its height). The Buddha was cool and you can actually go inside. We did. It was amazingly hot! All that bronze and we just cooked inside. So we left pretty quickly.

Then we went down to the beach. Heather's determination was that it was a typical pacific coast beach. I just know it wasn't a beautiful North Carolina beach. But it was fun to stand there with our feet in the water for a little while.

Then we caught the train back home just in time to cool off a little and go to have dinner with a little family that Heather and Tim are friends with.

Day 7: Sunday
We got up and went to church. It was in English, so that was cool.

Then Heather made the tuna that turned out to be salmon for dinner. But it was really good anyway. One of Tim's friends from church came and that was fun. We also played a couple rounds of Uno.

Day 8: Monday
Heather and I picked Monday as our shopping day. We went to Loft -- or as the Japanese say Rofto -- we looked for a Bento because Heather thought it would be perfect for me with the type of food I eat. Then we went to Mono and a little furniture shop. The shop wasn't that little, but the furniture was. It was pretty hilarious, because for us Americans, it looked like little kid furniture.

For lunch we went to a standing sushi bar.

It's a popular lunch spot. You just walk in and stand at the counter and tell the guys -- the sushi chefs -- what you want. They work quick and keep slapping different things in front of you. It was all good and we tried a few different things.

After finishing our shopping excursion, we went home. We probably watched some episodes of Bones. Heather was working on Season 4, so we were having fun watching it together.

Then we decided to go out to the Tokyo Tower for sunset.

We took the train down to that part of town, then walked through the temple that is close to the Tower.

We went up to the first observation level and picked out a spot facing west to watch the sunset. It was kind of cloudy, so the sunset wasn't quite as spectacular as we had hoped it would be. But what was amazing about the view was watching the lights come on throughout the whole city.

I kept comparing the view to the Hancock Tower in Chicago. Heather and Carla and I went up that at night and when you look out at Chicago you can see the city and where the city ends. But when all the lights come on in Tokyo there is no visible end to the city. It goes as far as you can see. It's pretty amazing.

After we walked around the lower observation, we went up another level to the highest observation level. You can see even farther, clear out to the island of Odiba. But there still isn't an end to the city.

1 comment:

  1. Man i wish i could have gone so bad... it sounds so cool!