Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Walking My Feet Off In Japan

Since I got to Japan a few days ago, I have done nothing but walk everywhere. For a place as teeming with trains as this one, that may sound surprising, but in fact there's very little else to do to get around here besides walk. Taxis are godawful expensive, and buses are confusing, a bit. Anyway, my feet are SORE.

When we got in on Sunday, we first checked into our hotel, a Japanese-style place called Kikuya Ryokan. Well, we tried to. As a matter of fact, I ended up going almost exactly the wrong way until a very nice gentleman with very poor English pointed us in the right direction. Then we headed over to Yotsuya for Mass-- we were late, a bit, but it was okay. A very nice church it was, with a design in the roof that echoed the imperial chrysanthemum.

Yesterday, we found out that pretty much nothing in Tokyo is open on Monday. So, um, avoid Tokyo on a Monday if you're sightseeing is the lesson here, I guess. Instead, we visited the National Science Museum, and saw some very cool exhibitions on the history and peoples of Japan. Then, out of sheer boredom, we took the Shinkansen (bullet train) to Nagano, more or less because it was there. We took in a very gorgeous shrine, the Zenkouji Shrine, and then headed back. The train was about 100 minutes or so between Tokyo and Nagano stations-- look that up if you want to see how far that is. It's pretty impressive, if you ask me.

Today we started off with a tour of Asakusa's most famous temple, the Sensoji Temple. The street leading up to it、Nakamise-dori, is full of shops just ready and waiting to part the unwary from their vacation cash. Then we headed over to Harajuku, and saw the Meiji Shrine, created by Emperor Meiji, who opened up Japan to the world shortly after Admiral Perry made it a moot point anyway. From there, we took in Tokyo Tower (3m taller than the Eiffel Tower, but only because of its antennae mast. ;-) A brief stop in Shinjuku for dinner, and then back to the hotel.

Tomorrow is still up in the air a bit. We'll just have to see how it goes.

No pictures yet, I'm afraid; we have to use the hotel's computer, and I don't know if I can use it to upload (anyway, this keyboard is a pain, as it keeps shifting randomly into Japanese-- which I could probably type, but you probably couldn't read. :).