Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Eriko and Me in Tokyo

WOW! What a city! Let me start off by saying it is not what I expected. Sure i figured I'd see most of the high traffic areas electronically lit up like time square, it is Japan after all. I also expected the business men to be walking around in short sleeve white button downs with black pants and ties because after all, I am a big fan of Heroes and that's what Hiro wears. But what I did not expect was the boundless subway systems, the relatively clean streets and honestly, the lack of chaotic chatter. There seems to be a silent order to all things in Tokyo. Men and women just know where they are going and what side of the escalator or street to be on. Stay to the left if you are standing and to the right if you are moving, it is simple and ubiquitously known.

I personally have been very impressed and overwhelmed by the subway system here. There are so many lines that we have switched trains multiple times just to get from one place to another.There is not one level underground the way I remember it in New York but many levels as if it were am airport. However, they have maps in English posted next to the Japanese maps as well folded paper maps you can carry with you. Also the subways have a digital screen that tells you what station you are in upon arrival in both English and Japanese.

Ok now on to food! Here are a few pictures I took randomly at a pretty nice fruit store we passed on the street.

My favorite place so far in Tokyo is Asakusa which is famous for the Senso-ji Temple. The #1 stop for visitors, Senso-ji is a Buddhist temple erected in the 17th century. Destroyed during WWII, the temple was rebuilt and the market and architecture has made it my choice of where to stay in Tokyo. There are many Hotels as well as Hostels just minutes away. The entrance, Kaminarimon, or the Thunder Gate is composed of huge red columns and a traditional black Japanese roof. At the center is an enormous red lantern with the ferocious guardian deities on either side.

Between the gate and the temple is a large cauldron looking piece where you will find many people standing around bathing in the smoke of incense. It is said that the smoke gives you beauty and health.

The market within the temple brings us to my #1 pick of must-haves for Japanese food, tempura friend sweet bean cakes. I am not sure what they are called but trust me, they are amazing! The flavors this stand sells range from original to pumpkin to sesame. The women of the stand understand English so make sure and ask for whichever are fresh and still warm, you will NOT be disappointed.
Here are a few pictures of the relics and sautes around the temple that I thought were fun to see. Also there are a few more pictures of the market.

colorful dipped bananas
mmmmm noodles

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