Okinawa Sunrise

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Tokyo Part I: Get me to the shrine on time!

We are back in Okinawa warming our toes and fingers after a wonderful, if chilly, weekend in Tokyo. We left Naha airport (80 F and blue skies) and landed at Tokyo Haneda airport (50F and overcast). Our first challenge was navigating the Tokyo monorail and metro. Our first time proved pretty uneventful as compared to our later efforts to get around to see the sites...more on that later. We arrived at Shimbashi station at prime happy hour. As soon as we were off the metro it was the Tokyo you always imagine. Suits and designer skirts shuffling quickly out of offices and into trains or bars. Despite that, we thought we had great luck in finding helpful souls to direct us to our hotel. But it truth it was par for the course for all Tokyoites. Every person we spoke to throughout the weekend dealt with my spotty Japanese and pointed us or actually walked us in the right direction!

We met my Dad at the hotel and got a good nights sleep since our tour bus left at 8:30 AM! Stop number one that morning was the Meiji Shrine. The largest and most visited Shinto Shrine in Tokyo. The three days after New Years see about 3 million visitors. The walk there was long and rainy but with a great pay off! The fourth picture is Adrian and I sheltering at the shrine with the gate in the background. The third picture is us purifying ourselves to enter. First you use the ladle to pour water over your left hand, then clean your right. Then you pour water into your hand and use that to clean out your mouth. Thats where you catch Adrian, in mid-spit. It is verboten to bring the ladle to your lips.

Squeaky clean, we then moved on to look at picture number 5. The plaques shown are available for purchase and then hung with wishes in all languages. It was fun to get a little insight into the minds of the English speakers. One wisher, who I hope was in Tokyo on business with his boss lurking over shoulder wrote on his plaque that he hoped for strong midterm growth and the meeting of their year end goals.

We were also lucky enough to catch the begining of a wedding procession. I really can't understand why any Japanese bride would chose a white wedding gown over the beautiful kimono that is part of a tradition ceremony and that you can see a little of on the far right of picture number 1. You can also see the set up of the wedding tea ceremony in picture number 2. Sadly, being on a guided tour we had to move on to the next site and didn't get to see the whole shebang!


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