Thursday, October 05, 2006

Tokyo Lights, Sumo Wrestlers, Shrines/Temples, and Kabuki Dancers

Left to right: Resturant entrance; typical food display for a resturant; a Kabuki dancer (I have photos of her getting ready-lots of make-up, and the lead and mercury make-up history was interesting).
Route to Japan:
Well, I guess I'll start with my one disappointment. I didn't realize there was an In and Out Burger close to the hotel in San Francisco. How could I have let that slip by in my mind? So maybe a quick overview from San Fransico on before proceeding...
The good news was that I found a Tennessean early on for the trip. To be exact, directly in front of me while checking in at the Nashville airport. We even ended up being roomates in San Francisco, which is odd because there were 200 people to pair up together. Anyway, here is a photo of her-Jennifer- and me at the House of Representives building.

First taste of being a celebrity: At this tour, many school age children were visiting for fieldtrips. They were eager to share peace signs and pose for pictures. This is what we were told to expect during our school visits.
Lots of it. Fresh. Rice. Rules. Raw. Beautiful. Presentation. Eating is such an interesting procedure. Our first night in Tokyo included a planned dinner outing with a Fulbright guest. Ours was an elderly man, Mr. Yasukouchi, who I could barely keep up with. His fast pace quickly lead us to the subway where I was able to witness the maximum limit possible-right up to a tiny fraction of an inch from the subway doors. I tried hard to pick up on all of the eating etiquettes (e.g. chopsticks stuck in the rice symbols death). Anyway, the food continued to come for two hours, and I found many places to be similar to this experience. Small, tiny bowls with beautiful presentations. I have been very surprised to find the food not only good, but satisfying, and flavorful.

On left: A resturant near the shrine. On the middle: Typical view from the many breakfast locations in the morning. Pictures don't do it justice. On the right: A GIANT blowfish with fish tanks around the entrance.

Senso-ji Temple and Asakusa Shrine:

My mind is getting tired. I'll explain later how the two were mixed together in Japan. I'll explain the fortune telling quickly. You grab a stick, find your match in a box, pull out your fortune. If you like it, keep it (and they are ranked 1-100 for best and worst). If you don't like it, tie it up to get rid of it. Our tour guide let us know the many rituals that are observed. The two below include cleansing your hands in the fountain (pour in right hand, rub together outside the bin) and cleanising your soul and problem areas (e.g. knees) with the smoke. It took me a minute to realize the elderly took this very serious. It made the 90+ stores nearby (literally) seem cheap and wrong. But I bought Eli a cool Thomas the train game, although the man tried warning me it's in Japenese. But Eli can't read English or Japenese. He'll love it.

That's Bush on the left. Politically, relationships are good and this poster can be found in many areas, post-cards, etc.


I need to get to sleep. I have sumo wrestlers to check out at 5 am! Yeah, I know. I can't believe it either. I didn't even start yet. I could write a small novel. Good night...