Around the World Spring 2008 travel blog

Jim in front of the Department of Justice (he thinks he now...

Yuraku-cho under the bridge

Yuraku-cho under the bridge

Floral arrangement in fancy department store

Statue of Goddess of Sincerity in center of dept. store...(named after 1st...

Same statue...its 4 stories tall

The FANCY mall

A few of the 1000's of black suited young businessmen

Bridge of Japan, built in 1603

Giant giraffe outside a building with all arabic writing (?)

Back alley lunch place!

What are we eating?

Oh, there's the name of the place & the menu!

Another view of our lunch place!

WInd blown and ready to head to Singapore (see the cello sculpture)

A daylight view of Tokyo Tower from our balcony


Woke up to a beautiful, if windy, sunny day! Headed out to the Ginza/Yuraku-Cho district. We walked and stopped for a photo-op at the Department of Justice. Passed lots of government buildings with lots of guards. Also passed a group of protesters-have no idea what they were protesting against, but was it peaceful and organized! They each had on a "bib" kinda like the caddies wear on the pro tour. They were quietly seated and listening to a speaker with a megaphone. There were police there. We passed them at about 9:30 and again after 2. They were neat and polite....

First stop (although it took us a while to find it) was Dai-ichi Mutual Life Insurance Building...it survived WWII (called the Pacific War here) and Gen McAurther used it as his headquarters. Our tour book said they had kept those rooms intact and just ask the receptionist and we could see it. Well... first the building was incredible, huge, and we went up two long escalators just to get to the receptionist. It was quiet, somber, with just a few businessmen there. She informed us that the rooms were closed. She was very sweet and gave us a small origami creation she had made. She obviously had lots of time on her hands. Well, strike one for Ellen's big plan for the day!!

Passed under the bridge near in the Yuraku-cho district. Yuraku-cho means the Pleasure Quarter. It stems from being the haunt of the "pan-pan" women who kept the GIs company. A cluster of cheap restaurants developed. It was smoky, loud and friendly, an open air substitute for the local taproom. Only a handful of stalls remain as the area become so upscale. (I have quoted from the guide book!) You can see the "stalls" in my pictures that were just opening for the day. There was piped in music...as I was taking the picture the song playing was "Hey, hey, we're the Monkees"!!

We continued walking, noticing skyscrapers with every name you can think of that has to do with electronics. Our next stop was the Bridgestone Museum, though once again we took the long way to get there. This is the private collection of the Japanese founder of the Bridgestone Tire Corp. It was in a beautiful, modern building. Though not a huge collection, it had pieces by Rembrandt, Picasso, Monet, Rodin... pretty impressive.

Jim said I had to use the bathroom...very cool and modern...the sink had motion activated soap and water (OK, been done before) and air dryer for your hands...all in the sink!! I think we have a bathroom fetish!

Now we are headed to Ginza, THE shopping district in Tokyo (where have I been). Missed the Mikimoto place (could that have been planned?) Finally find the Mitsukoshi Department Store. Guide book said it was not to be missed even if you are not shopping. The current building was built in 1935. The guide book describes the statue of Magokoro as sublime (not quite how I would have put it). She is the goddess of Sincerity and quite ornate. The whole building was quite incredible. Of course, it was expensive...seems doubly so when a purse for $250 is priced at 25,000 yen.

This was around the noon hour and the black-suited businessmen literally poured out of the buildings. I cannot describe how many there were!! The picture is nothing...

So we waited until after 1 pm when they mostly disappeared back to wherever they work to find a lunch place. Did we ever find one!! Don't know the name as there was no English on the sign or the menu. We peeked inside as people were leaving and they slid the door open for us. A woman gestured us to 2 places at the counter. She pointed to a man sitting near by (there were probably no more than 15 or 16 seats there) and said "fried chicken" (looked like Tempura) and the deed was done. She then pointed us to a recently vacated table (one of three) and we sat down there. We were served tea and water immediately and within 3 minutes we each had a tray with 4 large pieces of "fried" chicken, a big bowl of rice, salad, soup, and two small bowls with what we think were pickles. She pointed to several sauces and then to what they were supposed to go on. OK, we were good...basically we had more info and instruction than at the expensive place we went to on Sat night. The food was good, and filling (I noticed that it was a lot like a southern Sunday supper: fried chicken, rice, cole slaw and homemade pickles!!) Our waitress was running a tight ship, but stopped every now and then to check on us. She asked where we were from and I said Florida....we thought her answer included the word soldier and she pointed to the west and touched her nose. We nodded vigorously, not having a clue what she said. After she left we thought she said 1) the memorial for the soldiers is that way, 2) we have a Disneyworld here or 3) if you go that way and do what I say you can clear up that pimple on your nose. Still don't know...

It was so much fun and they were so nice and pleasant, and all for $16 for both of us.

We walked all the way back, ready for a drink. Went by Tahiti Rama, it was closed but we got a picture. Walked toward Midtown Tokyo looking for a pub with Guiness. Found one that didn't rate a picture. Later stopped in a place that had live entertainment at night, shows with cover charges of about $75. Wished we had known about it a couple of nights before. It was early so we just had a drink on the patio. They brought us lap blankets...nice touch.

Later we went to a very local place for sushi. They all greet you in unison when you walk in (you feel like you are in Cheers where everyone knows your name, except its all Japanese so you're not sure what they are calling you). I am not a big fan of raw fish, but what I had was good. Jim liked most of it, but did hestitate on the last couple of specimens. It was a fun place.

Back home we are packing. Will leave the hotel about 7 tomorrow to catch a bus to the airport.

Next entry will be from Singapore!!!



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