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Our 6-Day Kanto Tour (関東六日游) 10/3 – 10/8/2008 – Tokyo 東京 October 28, 2008

Posted by hslu in Travel.
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Our 6-Day Kanto Tour (関東六日游) 10/3 – 10/8/2008 – Tokyo 東京

Tuesday, 10/7/2008 – Tokyo 東京

  • There were three restaurants in Keio Plaza where we could have our breakfast:
  1. Jurin: American style breakfast;
  2. Glass Court: A mixed Japanese and Western Breakfast buffet; and
  3. Kagari: Japanese style breakfast.
  • We chose the Glass Court based on Yuri’s recommendation and we weren’t disappointed. Although we had the usual American and Japanese breakfast stuff, all selections were fresh and inviting. Orange juice was fresh. Over easy egg (1 to share between us) was cooked just the way it should be. We mostly ate Japanese stuff and skipped the greasier and not-so-healthy foods like bacon, sausages, harsh brown (not good at all. Kind like under-cooked on purpose,) hot cakes (For reasons I couldn’t figure out. The hot cakes were not as fluffy and soft as the ones we could get from IHOP or Silver Dinner,) and scrambled eggs (Again, it looked watery just like what we had at Narita Hilton.)
  • In order to try as many items as we could, many times Maria and I shared an items and then decided whether to go for more or not. To my surprise, there was  纳豆   “Na Dou” again. I carefully opened the package, added just about 1/3 of the pre-packaged soy sauce into the container, and slowly stirred the contents around until it was thoroughly mixed. I then ate it with the warm, smooth xi fan while trying to get rid of the strings at all times. Well, it wasn’t bad at all the second time around. I offered some to Maria and she took it with “xi fan” and I didn’t see the funny face like she did the first time. I guess it was acceptable after the initial shock 2 days ago.
  • We finished the breakfast, got our luggage, returned the key to the front desk (Yuri said if we don’t she would get charged ¥5 for each one not returned,) and got on the bus which was at the front door waiting for us. Today, we sat towards the end of the bus so other people could go to the front. Today, we’ll visit a few popular spots in Tokyo. The sky was clear. The temperature was a little bit on the high side: 84 to 86 oF since we needed to walk around a bit.
  • Our first stop was Meiji Shrine (明治神宮) which was only 15 minutes away. Emperor Meiji (明治天皇,) according to Yuri, has been a much respected Emperor and a source of pride for Japanese even until this date. He, with the support of some territorial lords and samurais, initiated a series of rules and proclamations which led to the abolishment of Tokugawa shogunate (徳川幕府 which controlled Japan for 260 years) by force, elimination of the four social classes, reclamation of the political and military power to the royal family (in name only) and their supporters, establishment of land reforms and the acceleration of industrialization in Japan. This was called 明治維新 which I vaguely remember reading that when I was in high school. Of course, I didn’t remember any detail at all but knew it had done something significant to change a closed and backward Japan to a new world power in the early 20th century. The Tokugawa shogunate (徳川幕府) was somewhat familiar to me (albeit superficially at most) because of all the samurai movies I have watched. This includes those by Toshiro Mifune (三 船 敏 郎) and Shintaro Katsu (勝 新太郎) who played Zatoichi (座頭市) as a blind samurai in 26 movies. While Yuri was talking, I thought that while 明治維新 lift Japan to a military power house in the early 20th century, it also led to their aggression towards China, Taiwan and Korea. Of course, this aggression ultimately resulted in the occupation of Taiwan by Japan, 芦沟桥事变 or the so-called “七七事变” on July 7, 1937 in northern China and Pearl Harbor in 1941 in the US. It of course also resulted in Japan’s total defeat after 8 years of savage war with China and 4 years of war with the US. How strange an event in the history of Japan, as important as it was in the history of Japan could have such a strong impact on so many lives around the world for so many years.
  • Meiji Shrine is a beautiful place. The 大鳥居 at the entrance is the largest and tallest wooden 鳥居 in Japan. The two huge posts actually came from a 1,500 year-old 檜樹 from Taiwan’s 阿里山 “ah li shan,” according to Yuri. It took three of us (me and two kids in the group) to circle it around with our hands fully extended. The place is surrounded by trees and the path way to the Shrine is covered with small pebbles. Yuri told us this was because the royal family was afraid of Ninja and pebbles on the road would provide forward warnings to the protectors.
  • Many people left wishes on wooden planks and this one caught my attention. I wished she can find a good husband, save enough money and buy a big house soon.
  • Another interesting display was near the half way point to the Shrine. This was a more recent happening, Yuri told us: many sake companies offered their sakes to show their respect to the Emperor. It is also a good form of advertising as well. On the other side of this is a wooden frame about the same size as this one. It has many wooden barrels with Japanese wines made from red and white grapes. I didn’t take a picture of it because Japanese wines industry is still in their infancy. Japan’s cold weather may not be the best place for grape growing. At least, not yet.
  • We stayed at the Shrine for about 45 minutes and I took the chance to take several pictures of Maria. She was very willing as my model; smiling and happy. She had worked very hard ever since we had kids about 27 years ago.  After we moved to Northern Virginia, she did it again; sometimes 6 or 7 days a week in the first few years. Now that we have time and means to take vacations, I am sure she liked it. I am glad we did too. Besides, we have to do it when we are physically capable because vacation is demanding and physically challenging at times.
  • After Meiji Shrine, we took the bus to our next destination: Asakusa 淺草. It should be a fun afternoon. I couldn’t wait.

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