Tokyo for Beginners

I am known for saying: Let’s run away to [Insert name of city.]

As I mentioned, about six weeks; two months ago, I said to Paul, Let’s go to Japan.

And Paul said, Okay.

So we planned a 10 day adventure that spanned Japan.

Paul arrived early in the afternoon on the last Saturday of August, and I arrived that night.  And we began our adventure with this view:

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The floor-to-ceiling windows made for a breathtaking experience.  But it was late, so we crashed soon after I arrived from the airport.

The next morning, I went for a run around the Imperial Palace Gardens:

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An important thing to note about our time in Tokyo is that it was hot.  I’m fine with the heat, generally, but for some reason, the heat in Tokyo got under my skin.  Maybe it was just the city that got under my skin.  There were little, irritating things that weren’t going my way, and I was also letting my guard down for a moment after a breathtakingly challenging first nine months to the year.

On our first full day, we walked around in the oppressive heat, and saw many of the sights.  I became increasingly hostile as the day got hotter, and because I was living under the strain of jetlag.

But I became even more hostile as the sights got weirder.

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There were a lot of things we LIKED about Tokyo.  The “doll” and “cute” culture was not one of them.

We did, however, like the shrines and temples.

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The next day, we were up early to see Tsukiji Fish Market and take a sushi-making course.  I think that the whole idea of seeing a fish market may sound repugnant to some, but it’s a fascinating place.  The fish market’s rules were that I couldn’t take photos (not for proprietary reasons, rather, the place is packed with men wielding large knives, and they didn’t want to be distracted by flash!)

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(The hustle and bustle at one of the entrances)

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(A photo I snuck of some of the activity)

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(A dude sawing a hunk of tuna on a bandsaw.)

After seeing the fish market, we dashed to our mid-morning sushi lesson at a local school affiliated with the fish market.

I loved making sushi.  The concentration and precision required really struck my fancy, and the entire experience was lovely.  Also, I was good at it, which helped.  And Paul was a sport about my being good at making sushi and crowing about it.

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(He did, however, have to live with me for eight more days, as I periodically reminded him Remember that time I won at sushi?)

We emerged from sushi school just after lunch, and then we wandered around the city at our leisure.  We got on a ferry — which sounded like a good idea at the time — and took in the sight of Tokyo’s bridges.

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(Not the Whitestone Bridge.)

We hopped off the ferry at the last stop, and decided to follow our line of sight to the Sky Tree.

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We didn’t go up to the top; we just had ice cream at the bottom.  We love ice cream.

All in all, Tokyo was not a highlight of the trip for me.  Each time we tried to have delicious food, our plans were somehow horribly thwarted.  Each time we tried to do something or see something, we managed to badly mangle the idea in the execution.  It was hot, and sticky, and it was just another city — and I’ve seen so many cities.

We did also scream at each other once — on a street corner — about some dinner plans that never came to fruition.  But even then, as awful as it was to wind up in a yelling match on a public street in a city/country where we didn’t speak the language, it was somehow…safe.  Because nobody was going anywhere.  We were in the adventure together.

We left Tokyo in the early morning after three nights at the Mandarin.  I woke up to a sunrise view, and then we were off for Hiroshima.

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