Okinawa Sunrise

Monday, August 06, 2007

Tokyo, Kamakura and Kyoto

Well the first intrepid travellers made it all the way out to the Far East to see us! Adrian's father Gerald and good family friend Percy flew in from DC and we met them in Tokyo for the start of a 2 week visit. The silver and bronze are still up for grabs in the race to come see us though! Yours for the taking!

On this second visit, I like Tokyo even more. We stayed at the New Sanno Hotel which despite being for lowly US Armed Forces Personnell was really nice! Excellent food, indoor pool...lovely!

And one metro stop from the swanky Roppongi area. It's got an almost East Village type vibe thing going for those of you that know New York. International, with lots of cafes, gallerys, museums and restaurants I can't afford to eat in. It was really nice to get a taste of city life after getting a bit too stuck in our country bumpkinish ways in Okinawa! We saw some of the same things we saw on our last trip for first-timer Percy and some new. Harajuku offers up a parade of prepubesents in the most confounding mix of what I guess you can call fashion and theatre. I couldn't take too many pics though....thats just not cool! We also when to Shibuya which is even more Times Square than Times Square! I was also reminded at every turn that HAREEEEE POTERU was out and I hadn't seen it!!! (Have now! LOVE IT).

We escaped the hustle and bustle to one day and stopped in Kamakura, home of the giant Budda as well as umpteen other shines devoted to this or that deity. All very peaceful minus the short cut that was slightly more rugged than the map made it look (a dashed line as opposed to a straight one didn't translate....long story short I still can't get the mud off the butt of my khaki shorts).

We then rode the Shinkansen to Kyoto. Very modern and comfy except for the fact that my specification for non-smoking tickets also got lost in translation! Boy are Japanese business men ever tense! It's been some time since I saw so many chain smokers crammed into a small space!

Kyoto is very much a city, make no mistake but with considerably less neon and zing than Tokyo. Wide boulevards and open spaces are more the norm. We decided to go for a traditional Japanese Inn for our stay called a Ryokan. I would wholeheartedly recommend that you go this route if you are ever in Kyoto...or anywhere in Japan. The service is excellent and you can't beat the authentic experience. A woman in a kimono greets in at checkin with the offer of whipped green tea (Matcha) and when you are ready, will make your Futon bed in your Tatami matted room. Its a little hard for my taste! Then breakfast is brought on trays to your room (traditional fish and miso soup with all the fixins) while you sit back in your bathrobe (yukata). Baths are also lovely, but communal....sorry no pictures! You wash yourself at a little stand then go for a soak in a warm pool.

It really is just what you need after a day of site seeing! My favorites included Nijo Castle, former HQ of the Shoguns. Favorite feature...the Nightengale halls. So called because the paranoid Shogun who built the place had the floors installed to squeak pleasently when anyone...was approaching. I also enjoyed the Golden Pavillion and the Toji Temple! At night we stopped in the Pantocho area for dinner and took a peak in the Gion hoping to see one of Kyoto's remaining hundred or some odd working luck...I don't think they work when it rains!

All in all a lovely trip! I'm looking forward to going back! Who's with me???


Post a Comment

<< Home