Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Chaos vs. Calm

Well, we've been going pretty much non-stop over here and I have lots and lots of photos to prove it.

Tuesday, Candice and I hit up Senso-ji Temple - Tokyo's "most spectacular and most sacred" temple according to our guides. Since I don't practice (or even know that much about) Buddhism, I can't vouch for the sacred bit, but I can certainly confirm that it is indeed spectacular. As can, apparently, most everyone else in Tokyo since the entire population seemed to be there at the same time as us:

The alley, Nakamise-dori, leading up to the site is filled with market stalls selling all sorts of things ranging from tacky souvenirs to food to some really nice ceramics, etc.

Hozo-mon Gate

This is a detail shot of the lantern-ish looking things that are hanging from the gates here - no idea what they're called but they're really striking.

The five-story pagoda

Nade Botokesan Buddha

The beautiful painted ceilings inside the main hall

The juxtaposition of the crazy-ness and masses of people leading up to the temple and the tranquility of this garden right next to it was pretty unbelieveable. I really couldn't believe how calm it was when it was so chaotic just several metres away.

The pagoda as seen from the garden

I don't really know exactly what these are but they are very pretty, no?

A buddha in the garden

My freshly made rice cracker - sooooo good. It was warm and had a delicious soy sauce glaze.

After some shopping and bargaining on Nakamise-dori, we decided we were ready for lunch. Our books recommended this one little tempura place - a real local neighborhood joint. So we made it our job to try and crack the non-sensical address system and find it. After only 10-15 minutes or so, success was ours.

And funny enough, we had walked by this place like five times during our shopping and we kept saying that something smelled sooooo good. It was the cutest little place... The door was one of the traditional Japanese sliding ones and it was so low we had to duck down to get in. Then, our knees wouldn't fit underneath the table. Talk about feeling like a big, bumbling American... We also noticed that all the little old ladies who worked there were teeny-tiny little things. It was like a slightly miniature restaurant!

And the BEST tempura I have ever had. No lie. The BEST. This was the sign on the outside of the restaurant. Hmmm, I'd say it's a act of Buddah we ever found it at all.

Then it was on to Harajuku, home of the teens (the "Harajuku Girls" Gwen Stefani sang about on her L.A.M.B. album) who dress up in the crazy get-ups - ranging from ultra-goth to little-bo-peep-ish frills and hair ringlets and everything in between. Although the "official" day that they hang out is Sundays, I did get to see a few of them out and about.

This is the new tube stop for my flat in London. "You just get off at Sexy Dynamite and hang a right. Yeah, baby. I'm very switched on."

The other side of Harajuku - the posh designer shopping street. There were a few people there that day, as you can see...

In keeping with the theme of "chaos vs. calm" of the day, this is the entrance to the Togo Shrine just steps away from all the madness on the Harajuku shopping streets.

And the amazingly tranquil water garden within... The only exception was the nearby construction noise. It was fu**king up my chi, man.

The colorful koi fish who swam over, I guess, hoping we would have food for them. Candice tried to make up a Haikku about why we couldn't feed them so they wouldn't be sad. (There's lots more brownish grey ones that you can barely make out in the photo because they're about the same color as the water.)

The main hall

And the pretty Ume blossoms

That's a wrap on Day Three. Stay tuned!

P.S. Just wanted to say that there have been a few emails expressing concern that I'm spending my time in Tokyo blogging and emailing. Some of you may know that Jason and I are pretty early risers. So to clarify, the blog posts are generally being written sometime shortly after 7:00 AM, after our 6:30 AM breakfast. So, rest assured. Blogging time is not cutting into Tokyo time.

1 comment:

Jessi said...

I love your travel updates on Tokyo. Seems like an amazing place. I am impressed that you've been getting around so easily! Enjoy the rest of your trip and I look forward to reading the updates.