Tokyo, Japan

Dedicated to Kashio and Greg (my Japan posse) whom made the following possible…

Chūō-dori shopping street, Ginza 銀座, Tokyo, Japan — December 18, 2003


Tennō-ji 天王寺, Tokyo — December 12, 2003


Tokyo has more than 20 million vending machines 販売機, Japan — December 20, 2003


Mt. Takao cemetery, Tokyo — December 20, 2003


Meiji Shrine torii 明治神宮鳥居, Tokyo — December 22, 2003


Jindaiji, Chōfu, Tokyo — December 13, 2003

The Japanese maple exhibits beautiful koyo or autumn foliage, while the stream provides water for soba noodle production. This place is on the Nogawa walk from Higashi Koganei.


Traditional roof tiles, Tokyo — December 22, 2003


Sensō-ji 金龍山浅草寺, Asakusa — December 16, 2003


Waiting for food, Ueno Park, Tokyo — December 12, 2003


Hama Rikyu Gardens, Shiodome, Tokyo — December 16, 2003


Green tea and a red-bean cake at Jindai-ji 甚大寺, Chōfu, Tokyo — December 13, 2003


Hozōmon (Treasure-House Gate), Sensō-ji, Asakusa, Tokyo — December 16, 2003


Traditional cemetery, Tokyo— December 22, 2003


Dead ducks, Kanda district, Chiyoda, Tokyo — December 12, 2003

Kanda = field. Apparently these ducks are hanging as part of a restaurant ritual.


Cemetery grounds on a good walk between Nippori and Ueno, Tokyo — December 12, 2003


Greg and Kashio in their gaijin student house, Tokyo — December 14, 2003


Hamarikyu Gardens (Shogun hunting grounds), Tokyo — December 16, 2003


Duck hunting theory, Hamarikyu Gardens, Tokyo — December 16, 2003


Hato (pigeons), Asakusa, Tokyo — December 16, 2003


Main shrine building at Meiji Jingū 明治神宮, Tokyo — December 22, 2003

Meiji Jingu shrine is dedicated to the deified spirits of Emperor Meiji and Empress Shoken


Lantern at Sensō-ji, Asakusa — December 16, 2003


Prayers at the Meiji Jingū, Harajuku, Tokyo — December 22, 2003


Living in Ueno Park, Tokyo — December 12, 2003

“Some of those tents are nicer and bigger than where we live”

2003 Japan Journal Entries

Wednesday, 10 Dec — In flight

The first day of my trip!
And what a flight it was. Flawless in all ways except for maybe a lack of leg room. But @ 5’9” who am I to complain? Lunch: Salmon, Muscles, maguro Sashimi, Salad, bread, etc.

Thursday, 11 Dec — Tokyo

I land @ NARITA @ 4:30. After immigration/customs I am met by Kashio holding a sign that reads “Brian Johnson” (my first airport sign experience.) A brief 2.5 hour train ride takes us to KOGANI in W. Tokyo. We immediately dive into some soba noodles w/sea weed and come home. Then Greg. Then melatonin. Then bed.

Friday, 12 Dec — Tokyo

The Longest Day: 5:30 AM Ring Ring: Alarm Clock Chuo Line to Kanda Station. 2nd noodle adventure. Coffee w/Greg’s students. YAMANOTE Line to OKACHIMACHI Line to markets galore. Walked UENO. Noodles. Udon with Fish Ball. Ueno Park → National Museum. Student Card scam failure. (Poor Greg) Than into Natl’ Museum and here → The Gallery of Horyuji Treasures (see clip out.) Outstanding. 7th century Buddhas. Other Japanese history. Park with homeless. Then Yanaka Cemetery and temple and beer, rain, train, cold. Yamanote Line to Tokyo Station to MARANOUCHI building for view time relaxation. Walked to electronics store. Tokyo Station, met Kashio. Chuo Line → Shinjuku Station → Kabukicho (red-light district/drinking/hourly love hotels & girls pictures. Yummy and strange bleached hairstyle guys. Then to Syonben-Yokocyon (Pee Alley/Street) and we ate Yakitori BBQ (chicken stick) chicken, chicken balls shishito, beer. Homeless people under umbrellas, top of the government building for outstanding views. Christmas decorations in Shinjuku. Then two trains home and we get crushed by pushing maniacs: pushing, shouting sneezing, masks. The only problem is I bruise my foot from improper footwear and it hurts like heck for the next five days until I buy replacements. (What a great place!!!)

Saturday, 13 Dec — Tokyo

No alarm, sleeping, computer downstairs at Gregs, email, miso soup & nato, sweet plum. Wild River Park (NOGAWA) Beer, snack, croquette. Soba Mill with pretty girl. River walk. Jindaiji Temple. Had red beancake dumpling with green tea & red maples; beautiful. Bus to Mitaka. Nice road with river to Inokashira Park Park → Kichijuji (maze of markets) and train home. Kashio prepares ODEN (fish balls, diakon, and carrots) for dinner. Sleep. Good night.

I am going to begin this segment with safety. And this is a theme I am going to resort to quite frequently. Tokyo is on of the safest big cities on the planet (and also one of the most expensive) yet amongst all this chaos lay a level of civilness that I have found no where else. The vulnerable vending machines, 20 million strong, everywhere. There is a little something here for everyone.

Sunday, 14 Dec — Nikko

Kashio and I take the train up to Nikko and tour around a bit. On the way home we meet some salarymen and we share a beer.

Thursday, 18 Dec @ 4:02P — Tokyo

Subject: From Japan with love
So I finally found heaven on earth… in the form of a tiny sushi joint (Sushizanmai) in the center of the Tsukiji Fish Market — the largest fish market on Earth, and THE Mecca for sushi. Yes it was good. Really good. In fact, the Toro (tuna) made warm butter seem like steel. And damn, now that it has been sushi every day for a week, what a snob I have become (and a stinky one at that.) But don:t worry, China will flush me out and help me forget the tantalizingly good times here, and by the time I come home, that sushi place on Clement Street just might seem appealing again.–Et ?RŒ?@i Oh no, this keyboard just switched to Japanese) he heee. Anyway, I have to say that Tokyo has been mind opening. Talk about a safe city. Lonely Planet suggests that it is perhaps the safest in the world. And judging how everyone seems to leave their Louis Vuitton bags laying around, I have to believe it. And it is clean, too. Really clean. Those ubiquitous discarded cigarette butts are absent (even thought they smoke like fiends.) Attention to detail everywhere. Nothing is taken for granted, so little space for the 22 million souls, so everything must fit, and it does. And the cost. Yes, even the once mighty dollar doesn’t go far here. IE: four dollars just to get into town in the morning. (And I am not staying in the suburbs.) But at the same time, I think that I have finally found a place that has a little something for everyone-- So don:t no?RŒ?fŒ?f—p‚Z‚“‚“‚“‚“ (Japanese again.) So don:t none of you miss this place.

The other day, I went to the mountain city of Nikko, one of the spiritual capitals, and mingled with monks and ancient temples in trees the size of redwoods. Although jetlagged, I have to say, it really was great. And I have already thought of you all and really miss you. Come visit me!

PS. Tsingtao kegger party at Jeremy’s on the 27th. Happy Holidays