Another cold but beautiful day in Tokyo... Lucky for me, I have a playmate to hang out with while Jason is slaving away at work. We owned Tokyo today. We took this city by the scruff of the neck and said "You listen to us, Tokyo. We're going to master your subway system and crack the da Vinci Code of your ca-razy street address system." And we did. For the most part.
Sunrise over Shikjuku
We intended to visit the gardens of the Imperial Palace but, wouldn't you know it, they're closed on Mondays. Tokyo - 1, Us - 0.
But we walked around the perimeter and saw some very nice views anyway. Tokyo - 1, Us - 1.
"ROAR. You stay out of my fence. Or something bad will happen. See these red characters? That means something bad. ROAR."
Me and Lucky Cat
Despite there being basically no street names around here, we somehow managed to find our way to the beautiful Koishikawa Korakuen garden. Tokyo - 1, Us - 2.
Korakuen means "garden of pleasure last". Construction started in 1629 and finished 30 years later.
Though we're a bit early for the Cherry Blossoms which are basically one of the most beautiful sights in the world, we did get to see the Ume Blossom Festival in the garden.
The Engetsu-kyo (Full Moon Bridge) - called that because the the reflection of it in the water makes the half-moon shape of the bridge look like a full moon.
The Tsutenkyo Bridge
The Sawa-Watari (Marsh Crossing)
For our last trick, we hit up Ginza for a spot of afternoon shopping. This street is exactly how I had pictured Tokyo in my mind before getting here. And believe it or not, we managed to find the first two stores that were on our list with the greatest of ease and bought some beautiful Japanese stationery. Tokyo - 1, Us - 3.
This Cartier building was amazing - all in gold. This picture doesn't quite do it justice but it positively glimmered in the afternoon sun.
Ya, books. Fuk u. Who needs you anyway?
The last store on our list posed a small problem. We walked up and down the main street in Ginza and could not find it anywhere. Tokyo - 2, Us - 3. We were just about to give up and get back on the subway to head back to the hotel but decided to just try and ask someone if they knew where it was. And lo and behold, she pointed us right to it! It was on a little side street (a few blocks off the main drag) that we probably would have never gone down. Not to mention the signage was all in Japanese characters so even if we did go down that street, we probably wouldn't have found it. But holy mary was it ever worth it.
It's a Japanese handicrafts store and hand to god, I don't think I have ever seen so much stuff in such a small space in my life. There were beautiful handmade decorative chopsticks all over the walls, more types of little ceramic chopstick "props" than I ever imagined existed, gorgeous little ceramic bowls and cups, fans, dolls, games and about a thousand other things. This is the best part though...
As everyone knows by now, I'm a rather avid teacup collector and back in a corner, blockaded by about four square feet of merchandise was a really lovely painted teacup and saucer. Candice is like "Well, you have to have that." and calls over the shopkeeper. He comes over, takes off his shoes, and proceeds to start climbing the mountain of stuff to get the teacup. We were wigging out because it wasn't incredibly stable so we were basically just praying he didn't fall and take down the whole store or something. And I'm thinking "Please lord don't let this thing be too expensive because, of course, I absolutely have to buy it now that he's risked life, limb and store to get it for me."
But it was very reasonable and had a really cool little bonus feature - in the bottom of the cup, you can feel some little ridges and bumps (for lack of better descriptive words) and I assumed it was just a potter's mark or something but he holds it up to the light for me and when you look at it in front of light, it's an image of a geisha! I mean, it looks like a black and white photograph, it's so detailed! I can't really put it into a description that does it justice but take my word for it - it puts the awe in awesome.
We were so proud of ourselves for getting around so well all day that when we got to the top of the steps of the subway station at our hotel, we did the "Rocky".
Now that I've bragged so much, we'll probably get so lost today that we'll end up in Osaka.