Monday, July 11, 2011

Tokyo ni ikimashita Part 2

Tokyo Trip Day 2!

Bus stop outside of the New Sanno

Day 2 in Tokyo, Do-yobi (Saturday) I had the honor of hanging out with my friend, Mari Townes and her
dear, sweet mother. I, however, had to get to them 1st. I was meeting them at 11 am, okay, I get up at like 7, not a problem. I was to meet them at Shinagawa, hey, I've been there before, I can get there again right? Well sort of. I go 1st thing in the morning and used the front desk travel services to ask how should, could, one get to Shinagawa Eki? (Eki=Station) Well there are a few ways, 1st off taxi, which she didn't suggest, this is how I got from Shinagawa to the New Sanno when I touched down in Tokyo. 2nd, you could always walk up to Hiroo eki, and travel by subway and train, easy enough if you are not me. Lastly, the way they lady that helped me suggested was by basu aka bus. It cost 200 yen AND gets you right to Shinagawa eki. Well that is easy enough and cheap, so it was a no brainer. She let me know that it takes roughly 20 minutes to get there and she let me know to take bus 97 right outside the hotel. Sounds like I got all the info I needed and I did, but my brain doesn't process easy like everyone else's brain does. I must do everything the HARDEST way possible. I decided, since the bus arrives every 20 minutes, I'd have more than enough time to wait at 10 am for the bus, I would be way early. Well come to find out the bus didn't get there until 10:20 am. Still not a problem, I will still get there on time. My bus arrives, I get on, and about 7-10 minutes in to the ride, I read the screen wrong and I get off of the bus way too early. Now I am waiting for the bus again, paying the fare, again, and I am late to meet my friend and her mom that so graciously allowed me to tag along with them, knowing full and well they'd have to baby sit a slightly clueless American. I am texting Mari this whole time, giving her play by play and she is trying to help me, but I finally get on my bus, go the right direction, and thought of another way to help myself, when in doubt, follow the other person that is not Japanese. I did see the sign just fine however and got off at the right stop and sure enough that is where the other non Japanese person was going. I was told by Mari, STAY PUT, we will come get you. So, I did what I was told, I learned a long time ago when someone is helping you, sometimes you need to shut up and take orders. Though after a couple of minutes when they couldn't find me, I walked to the top of the stairs to use the elevated crosswalk and luckily, because of my height, I was found. NOW, I was off on the good part of my journey, with my friend, and I didn't have to think anymore, just follow, I liked, no, LOVED, that part.  I was so nervous on using my Japanese when you are introduced to someone that I totally didn't even hear Mari's mom's name!  I was saying "Hajimemashita. Talya Desu. Yoroshiku onegaishimasu", at the same time she was!  We were now off to Asakusa and Harajuku.

Mari and her mom showing me the way.

Mari's mom was too kind to me, I wish there was a way I could pay her back, she completely took care of me as if I was family, I am thinking that this is what it means to be a guest sometimes and goodness knows if Mari and her mom ever came to visit me, I'd do the same for them. Both are great women. Mari and I were catching up and her mom would give us tid bits of history as we were off the Asakusa, which you get to by exiting at the Shimbashi eki, well at least we did.

There was a steam engine out where you could see it. I was amazed that the Japanese used the same trains we once did to travel across our country, but then again, why would I be? Japan, in it's own right, is huge. The bullet train from Tokyo still takes you 3 hours if you are traveling to Osaka, I'm not even going to think how long that would take by car, regardless, in Asakusa I was taken to a very famous shine. My pictures show it's glory and how big it was. Though I forgot to ask whether the shrine was an actually Shinto shrine or a Buddhist temple. (There is a difference, Shinto religion, from Japan, is the worship of multiple spirits, animal spirits as well where as Buddhism, is not.) I took pictures as we made our way to the shrine and all down the road there were shops, food, snacks, knick knacks or various sorts, even wigs, and yukata. We went up and received our blessings after a wonderful tempura lunch. I was in awe of the fact that people from all kinds of countries were there in Japan, but then again Asakusa is very famous.

The actual shrine in Asakusa
From the street you can see the up and coming Sky Tree. The Sky Tree will be opened for tourist to come and go up and see Tokyo, just like Tokyo Tower, but the Sky Tree, once opened will be taller. Though this should give T.T. a complex, I am sure people will still flock to it enough that both buildings will not be lonely.

The Sky Tree (Not yet opened)
As we head off back to the station for Harajuku, I am realizing that as far as square miles, Tokyo doesn't seem that big, but what it lacks in size it makes up for in population, making it hard, very hard to get around by car, and making the subway and train systems ideal. I notice people taking naps on the subway, and I wish I could do the same, but I was way to excited to sleep as we were now going to the famous Harajuku.

Hello, Harajuku

Harajuku, some have asked, and I am more that okay with this question, did you see the Harajuku girls?
Well, yes I did, but not many. In Japan, the day off is Sunday, so when I went, I saw a handful, maybe
5, 7 at the most. I was surprised that Harajuku wasn't all that big, or at least the shopping part. The streets were packed with people, I got very close and brushed up and bumped more people than I can
count. This doesn't bother me however, because when you don't have hardly any room to even breath, you
better know, you are gonna get close to strangers, my tip, just hold on to your purse. Back to the Harajuku girls, and boys. What I didn't know, and luckily didn't even try, is that you are not suppose to take pictures of them. Yeah, go figure, the reasoning, they'd rather hold out for the magazines that patrol Harajuku and want to snap pictures of the Lolita styled boys and girls( I mainly saw the sweet Lolita dressed girls, but there were a couple others that were dressed on the Punk Lolita side. (It is goth, get it right) Knowing the rule about the pictures, told to me by Mari, I didn't attempt to catch a shot because I respect the places that I go, I am the guest and should act like such. I was shocked by the amount of Africans in Harajuku, my main question was, how do I get to live in Japan, others make it seems so easy, but I am sure it is far from easy to get in and stay in the country. They weren't the only culture though, Indians were there as well. I was amazed, thought it was pretty neat actually. America is not on everyone's top spot of places to go to live. Harajuku had stores like H&M and Forever 21, so I stopped for some shopping, once we were down it was back to the station to head back home, well to the
hotel for me. I followed Mari and her mom back until they got off the train, we said our good byes and I made it back to my hotel just fine once I realized where it was that I was going. Which turned out to be very easy once I got the hang of it. Get to Ebisu, once at Ebisu, you head down to Hiroo, which is one stop and then I walk back to my hotel. I ate dinner, had a nice miso salmon, and I crashed. Lovely time but hard work, and I had to get plenty of rest, because Sunday was Mt. Fuji.

Good bye, Harajuku

Sayonara from the Scott!

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