J2K1 – Tokyo, take 2

JAPAN, OCTOBER 1-17, 2001

After Hiroshima, we went back to Tokyo for more sightseeing and shopping.  That was the “fun” of traveling before internet reservations, your itinerary was probably a little less streamlined that it would be today.

Our ryokan was in Nippori, way back before it was the tourist hot spot that it is today.  In fact, I don’t think we even saw Yanaka Ginza or the touristy areas.  When we exited, we went out the wrong side and ended up in a reddish light district.  A very nice lady of the evening helped steer us to the correct place.  The ryokan had seen better days, but was traditionally Japanese, which is what we prefer when we travel there. Here is the toilet attached to our room.  I believe we also had a bath room (ofuro), which houses the shower and bath only.  This double-decker style Japanese toilet is hard to find nowadays, as washrooms are updated for tourists, so I’m glad I have some photos of the real things.

On our walk from Ueno Station to Asakusa to see the Kaminarimon we happened upon the entrance to Kappabashidori, which is the street where you can get any and all provisions for starting/running a restaurant, from stoves and knives, to fake food and dishes.  It’s pretty amazing.  Many places have a minimum purchase (e.g. must by at least 5 rice bowls), but fake food and nice chopsticks make lovely souvenirs. I adore these little tea cup balconies.  As far as I know, they are still there.

As is the Niimi chef, sitting atop one of the buildings.  Love this guy!

Eventually we ended up at our destination, Kaminarimon and Sensoji.  We thought it was busy then.  Ha!  It’s nothing to how crowded it is nowadays.

And a view down nakamisedori, a shopping street that runs from Kaminarimon to Sensoji.  Yes, it used to be covered.

A view of the Sensoji complex, with a few of the hundreds of pigeons I remember.  Nowadays the pigeons have been replaced by tourists.  I think I preferred the pigeons.

One day we split up, our traveling companions went their own way and Cloyce and I headed to Odaiba, the man-made island in the middle of Tokyo Bay.  We rode the yurikamome line across the Rainbow Bridge and exited at the giant mall.  We were a little early and nothing was open, so we wandered around.  Imagine our surprise to find a model of the Statue of Liberty,

Cloyce, chicken, and Rainbow Bridge.  We are fans of the anime Patlabor, so I think that figured into wanting to ride across teh Rainbow Bridge.  🙂

Lady Liberty and bridge.

There was lots of construction along the yurikamome at that time.  I’m pretty sure that this is what is now Shiodome.

After Odaiba, Cloyce and I took the train to Hamamatsucho, to go see Tokyo Tower.  While I don’t have photos, one of my most vivid memories from that trip happened at Hamamatsucho Station.  Cloyce and I exited onto the platform and saw two people bending over a man who was lying on the station platform, with a little pool of blood around his head.  We have no idea of what happened, but it must have just happened, as the ambulance pulled up to the station right as we exited. We were a little shaken by the whole thing, but on we went to Tokyo Tower.

A view from the underneath.  It’s very difficult to photograph properly once you are actually there.

We purchased tickets to both observation decks and up we went. Even with hazy skies, the views are amazing.  Tokyo as far as the eye can see. We were living in Austin, Texas, at the time, so the endless sea of buildings was mind-boggling to me.

A view towards Odaiba, where we had spent the morning.

One of the floors at Tokyo Tower offered refreshments and amusements, including this coin-op pandas.  They were so cool!  And the ride lasted forever!  There were two older ladies in the background who were very highly amused by Cloyce riding the panda.  They even moved closer to see what he was doing.

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