Thursday, June 30, 2011

Tokyo - Day 4

Last day in Tokyo so we were ready to make it a good one. The weather was pretty overcast and dreary, but it wasn’t raining so we were excited! After eating a yummy all-American breakfast buffet at the hotel, we headed back to the same temple as the night before. This time determined to actually see the temple, we tried our hardest to run the gauntlet of shops, although it ended up being more of a crawl due to the crowds and the souvenir shopping we had to do.

Rice cracker store

Sumo gear?

Kelly with a sweet little sales lady.

The temple was huge and beautiful and crowded – really the first really crowded spot we’ve seen. In fact, Kelly and I have commented many times on the lack of tourists and really heavy crowds. I guess tourism has really been affected by the earthquake, nuclear crisis and economy.

Washing hands before going in the temple.  You can see the incense smoke in the background.

Washing the dog's paws before going in the temple.

Crowds in the street heading towards the temple.

This is the temple with the giant straw sandals called O-Waraji.  They are meant to be a charm against evil and are symbolic of the power of Ni-On.  They were made by 800 citizens of Murayama City in less than a month.  They're pretty impressive when you see how large they really are!

From the temple, we hopped back on the metro to get to an area of town called Ueno. There is a huge park here which is home to a bunch of museums and a zoo. We opted just to meander through a bit of the park before heading down to the Edo-Tokyo Museum.

Shrine in the Ueno Park.  I've never seen one of these circular hoops before?

City streets on the way to the Metro

Stopping for sushi for lunch at a sushi-go-round.

This extremely large building houses an impressive history of the Edo time period in Japan. This ran from 1603 to 1868 and was the time that Japan was ruled figuratively by the Royal Family but practically by daimyos and shoguns and samurai of the Tokugawa family. Edo was the name of the city and was not changed to Tokyo until the shogunate lost power in 1868 and the Royal Family moved to Tokyo from Kyoto making it the capital of Japan. 

The museum had a lot of recreations of how life was in that time, but my favorite parts were about how wood block prints are created and the water systems of Tokyo. Believe it or not as early as the 1700s Edo had underground wooden “pipes” funneling water into Tokyo from the surrounding hillsides – some 30 or more kilometers away! Each little neighborhood had a well that was fed by these underground pipes. Imagine the engineering and planning to get water from so far away!

Recreation of city life.

Thought this was interesting for Stevie- childbirth.

Kabuki theatre.

As far as the woodblock prints, the detail carved into pieces of cherry wood to create the prints is amazing. Each print is made from a series of blocks, each painstakingly carved with a part of the picture – I’m really fascinated by the process.

My least favorite part of the museum was the history of WWII, very biased information talking about how the Americans bombed the heck out of the city causing untold damage and deaths. They forgot to mention the part about them picking the fight…

So, with the trip coming to a close, we added in one more stop before heading back to the hotel – another visit to the Hirajuku section to catch those funky fashions and have some dinner. Apparently Sunday is the day that the really elaborate costumes come out and we were definitely not disappointed this time. The people watching was awesome! I’m not sure which was my favorite: Alice in Wonderland; the old, sad guy; or skimpy little dress? (My photos aren't good, it was getting dark and my camera settings were wrong.  I'll add others later when Kelly gets back.  She got some good ones!)

The main street in Hirajuku.

We ended our night at an awesome noodle restaurant chosen solely because of the line of locals standing outside. Kelly and I took our place next to them and waited our turn to have our giant bowl of ramen. Yum!

1 comment:

  1. Louise, these pictures are awesome! What a fun trip ... so glad you two had a chance to have a girl trip and enjoy every minute of it!