Tokyo Tower at Sunset
This is the Japanese Equivalent of the Eiffel Tower (in fact, it’s modeled after it, but they made Tokyo Tower 13 meters higher). We knew that we wanted to get a glimpse of the city and we heard that this was a great place to do it. We went at sunset, which was really neat because saw Tokyo go from day to night. They also have windows where you can peer straight down.
Gaming in the Electric City
Adam’s gaming peaked in his college dorm room. Annie has fond memories of playing Super Nintendo with her brothers when she was 5. In short, neither one of us are gamers, but we decided to go to Akihabara anyway. It’s definitely gaming central. We honestly didn’t know where to go first. While we were tempted by the maid cafes, our favorite part of our outing to the Electric City was a stop at Mister Donut.
Later in the day, we ran into a group of real-life Super Mario characters… that were getting ready to take their race to the streets.
Locked out of the Imperial Palace
So the Emperor lives in the Imperial Palace… which apparently means that you cannot just walk up to the front door and demand a tour. This is as close as we could get. We were not invited in.
We did it because this is what tourists do apparently. To quote the well-respected film The Notebook, the tourists seem “to come out here and lay down and watch the lights change. And watch them go from green to red to yellow… You could try it, if you wanted to…” Well we did try it. Yes, it was a busy pedestrian crossing shaped like a hexagon that appears lawless at red lights. But living and working near Times Square has jaded us.
Traditional Theatre at Kabuki-za
Adam and I were brainstorming ways to get inside the Imperial Palace as we paced the perimeters. Fortunately, our strategizing was interrupted when we ran into a lovely Bulgarian engineer that had been living in Japan for the last several years. She suggested that we walk over to Ginza and check out Kabuki-za, or traditional Japanese theater. So we did just that and got ourselves some tickets. As you can tell, we had the best seats in the house :) Just kidding, we were in the standing room only section. The performance was a dance between three brothers. We later learned that there are no female performers.
Scary Spiders and Beautiful Shrines
“How religious are you?” asked the Japanese woman sitting across from us. Before we even had a chance to respond, she stated, “The Japanese are not very religious.” At first, her answer surprised us because there were shrines all over the place. But as we thought about it more, we realized that not being “very religious” didn’t mean that the Japanese weren’t spiritual. Based on what we learned, there’s a spirituality medley in Japan, with traditions from Shintoism, Buddhism, and Christianity.
We walked to Meiji-Jingu shrine – gorgeous woods in the middle of the city. The forest had these incredible trees with twisted limbs… however, it wasn’t until mid-way through our visit that we noticed the HUGE spiders that inhabited the woods. They created these massive webs between trees that Annie was sure could have taken her out. Once at the shrine, we quickly observed how to properly cleanse ourselves before entering the shrine (wash the left hand, then the right, put water into your left hand, rinse your mouth, spit, and let excess water in cup drip down the handle).