a blog about the cultural experiences my husband and I have because of our work abroad...what's delightful and beautiful about different countries and cultures...what we have learned from living and working in countries other than our home country...and how those experiences have changed us

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Japan part 3: Tokyo

The last stop in our tour of Japan was Tokyo. We booked a hotel within walking distance of an origami shop and went there right after we checked into our hotel. A master paper folder was doing a demonstration and he made us several examples. We bought his book and he signed it for us. At home, after our trip I tried some from the book, following the written instructions. It's so fun, almost meditative. :)
Tokyo was a surprise. From what I've seen on TV, I was expecting this crowded chaotic place. But it wasn't like that, at least not in most places. Tokyo is orderly just like the other Japanese cities we visited. And many of the streets were very quiet, by any standard, even in the middle of the day. We did go to the electronic district and that was pretty bustling. But outside of that area, what we experienced was definitely the opposite of chaotic.
On a Sunday afternoon we walked around the outside of the Imperial Palace. The sidewalks were wide and we passed a steady stream of runners in bright running clothes and shoes. A whole wide traffic lane that has been designated just for bikes also circles the Imperial Palace grounds. 
From the sidewalk surrounding the Imperial Palace, I was able to get some good close shots of some of the birds of Japan that were enjoying the moat water.
A Mute Swan.
A Great Cormorant.
And a Little Egret.

Of course we visited more gardens too. The gardens are designed by a master and maintained meticulously over the years. These beautiful gardens don't happen overnight, it takes years for them to grow into their full glory.
 The reflection from this bridge on the water below it makes a perfect circle.
Quite the curious turtle; it must be used to being fed by visitors.
Toyko has great coffee. The baristas are experts. In a shopping/business district we found Dean & Deluca.   I'd never been to one of these coffee shops before but I knew the name from the TV show Felicity that was set in New York. This was not the first time we saw something from or about New York. As you can maybe see in this picture, business attire is very formal in Tokyo. For men, we hardly saw anything other than a black suit. And women all wore dresses and heels.
On our last day in Tokyo we had to try one more noodle shop. On several nights we passed this one where people were lined up, so it seemed like a good choice. And it definitely was. Ramen noodles with pork and egg. We made our selection from a vending machine and paid before we entered. The guys working the shop were so skilled. Our seats were at the bar facing their work station. Each had a specific job. One guy was slicing the pork, another guy was heating the noodles, and another guy sliced the egg with a wire. Their uniform was all white including tall white rain boots. The whole restaurant had a joyful energized vibe to it. 
Japan is a beautiful and amazing country. Our first trip was a great introduction; I hope another trip is in the near future.

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