Okinawa Sunrise

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Tokyo Part II: Gardens and city bustle

From the Meiji shrine we proceeded through the city center past the Japanese government buildings. We ended up in the east garden of the Imperial Palace. The Palace itself is the private residence of the Emperor and two of his sons and their families (including a new born son who saved the Japanese from having to seriously discuss the possibility of allowing the Crown Prince's daughter to be Empress). The interior courtyards to the palace are open but twice a year, once on January 2nd and once on December 23rd, the Emperor's birthday. Apparently these gatherings are absolute mod scenes!

The East garden's were very peaceful. Old Samurai guard houses still stand and large stone walls go 50 ft high and down into surrounding moats. My favorite feature was a path with trees sent from each of Japan's 47 prefectures. I thought the palm was Okinawa's contribution but sadly no. Picture 1 here attempts to show how the garden is a little slice of serenity and history in amongst downtown skyscrapers. It's the kind of contrast you see a lot of in Tokyo.

Any guide book will be dotted with the phrase "rebuilt after world war II". It makes you wonder exactly how much wasn't able to be restored and how much was lost in the carpet bombing of the city. One of these reconstructions is the Asakusa Senji Temple. Buddist this time, not Shinto.

Religion strikes me as something that I in particular would find very costly here in Japan. In addition to the variety of trinkets, talismans, good luck charms and cell phone accesories that are sold within the temple itself, many walks to temple's are lined with market stalls and shops. Asakusa really takes the cake in that respect (and sells them too! I was stuffed with potato cakes by the time I walked the 250 meters to the temple entrance). The Japanese are very into their tiny little statues and souvenirs. I could have walked away with dozens of tiny dolls and figurines if I wasn't in the company of two more sensible family members, both of whom you see in picture number 2 at the entrance to the market! Picture 3 is my pops at the temple itself. Picture 4 is the a Pagoda (a word I find it oddly fun to say in a South Dakota accent, give it a go!)
I can't tell you much about it because it was raining hard and I chose dry feet over knowing its historical significance, may the gods of knowledge forgive me!

Final picture is a rickshaw driver. I was tempted to take a ride but our nice warm tour bus beckoned!


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