Saturday, February 09, 2008

Tokyo: February 2-8, 2008

I enjoyed my September trip to Kyoto so thoroughly that I wanted to return to Japan and check out Tokyo. My academy was closed for this past week due to the Lunar New Year so I took off to Tokyo for a week. It was refreshing being in a big city and having a sense of possibility again. There wasn't enough time to do, see and eat all that I wanted to in Tokyo, but I felt satisfied by what I did experience.

I've grouped the photos by categories.

Traditional Images from Tokyo

Woman in kimono leaving the Tokyo National Museum

Gate at entrance to the Meiji Temple

Boy playing with snow at Meiji Temple

Couple having pictures taken at the Meiji Temple on their wedding day

Decorated barrels that used to hold rice wine, along path to Meiji Temple

Incense burner in front of small shrine

Modern Images from Tokyo

Night view of Asahi building

The chef head marks the beginning of a street dedicated to cooking supply stores

Shibuya street crossing

Creative teen fashion statement

Japanese school girls in their short skirts

City street in Roppongi

Back alley in Shibuya

If you want to eat it, you can find it. There are exclusive French restaurants, cheap ramen and yakitori shops and everything in between. To be tried on another trip to Japan: puffer fish.
100 yen=

Apricot chocolate Belgian waffle. I wasn't the only one who couldn't resist; I waited in line for ten minutes along with eager ladies-who-lunch and businessmen. 186 Yen

Pork ramen; I copied the Japanese blue collar workers and businessmen I sat next to and added sesame seeds and pickled ginger. 700 Yen

Tempura (fish, shrimp, lotus root and some other leafy green) at Tenya, a popular chain restaurant that specializes in tempura. 980 Yen, including the beer

Sushi breakfast at the Tsukiji fish market. I'm not a big sushi eater, but this sushi was incredible. The tuna was so fresh and smooth. 5 pieces for 600 Yen

Whale meat. I was curious! It tasted like steak. Lunch set for 1200 Yen

Department Store Food Basements
The bottom floor(s) of the big department stores is dedicated to food. There are lots of different vendors and it's possible to buy anything from sushi, bento boxes, tempura, salads, and European cheeses to Belgian chocolates and French-style desserts. It's a great place for picking up reasonably priced dinner on the way home after a long day of shopping and sightseeing.

Imagine half a floor of a department store with display cases filled with desserts like these and beautifully wrapped boxes of chocolates. This is the visual delight of the food basements! The Japanese are excellent at copying and their chefs are masters at the Western cuisines. These desserts are as beautiful as any I've seen in Paris or Vienna. Individual desserts ranged from 3 to 6 dollars apiece.

Vending Machines
I've heard you can find pornographic comics, but I didn't see any of those machines. I also saw vending machines for newspapers and hot coffee.



Power drink!



Posted on the doors in the subway cars

In a bathroom stall

Shopping in Tokyo is enjoyable simply because there is a huge diversity of stores that cater to all tastes and levels of purchasing power. I found some international and specialty grocery stores in several different neighborhoods. I bought things that are difficult to find in Korea and impossible to find in Cheongju- wheat germ, Thai curry paste, fish oil, specialty jam, Ritter Sport chocolate bars, Haribo, Swiss muesli, Mound bars, Chai, and Twinings Earl Grey tea. I also bought clothing, two woodblock prints, a canvas bag, a pencil case, and assorted other little things.

I love the Japanese stationery stores and bought lots of cards like these:

The Japanese deserve to be recognized for their creative packaging. "Burger" cookies:

Figures made from handmade paper:

Things I did not buy:
One of the top floors of upscale department stores is usually dedicated to traditional Japanese items, such as lacquer ware, ceramics and kimonos. This kimono cost over $10,000 and it wasn't the most expensive one available.

Replica sushi magnets

Packages of instant ramen

Pillows found at Don Quixote, a somewhat trashy store selling anything and everything

Uniqlo, a popular Japanese chain with stores all over Tokyo, specializes in the basics. You can try on the t-shirts from the rack and then select the corresponding bottle from the wall if you want to purchase the shirt.

to be continued....


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