oday after breakfast we met with Mike-san, our Tokyo guide. Nice gentlemen, older and state-side savvy so he served as a good cultural bridge. He was to provide more than capable at maneuvering us through the null space between our various attractions.
First stop – the Meiji Shine at Harajuku, a beautifully wooded park and complex. Mike explained the facets of Shintoism and invited our participation. I even paid for a charm (token? Not sure) to keep me safe from car accidents – I’ll tuck it onto my bike and we’ll see. Also sent a paper prayer to Mookie – she’s always in my thoughts. Then a long subway bomb across town to…
Harajuku and its Sensonji Temple (Tokyo’s oldest). Bought JB a spoon to celebrate thirty years together. We went into the temple, pausing before the massive barrel of burning incense (you flutter your arms to draw in smoke over your affected areas, Mike noted (have you ever tried to push a cloud of smoke over your crotch hernia in public?))
After this, much more shopping. JB picked up a set of those Japanese hair rods (you know, the ones female assassins drive into the eyes of inattentive guards). Now she needs to learn how to do it herself (hey, I learned to fold a Brompton!). Then lunch at (finally) a full Japanese restaurant, with lounging in socks around a low table, crazy-different food, cute bowing waitresses, all that. All through it, I kept and eye on JB’s hair rods, making sure those expensive things didn’t slide out. But a good meal all the same.
And now across town to Shinjuku (near the hotel) to walk to Shinjuku Gardens (like Leu Gardens with fixed Oriental dominance). Quite pretty.
Next, a Samurai museum that should have been better than it was – honestly it was a bit like keystone cops. Our guide barely remembered his lines and when asking for questions, was unable to come up with answers (like how swords are hammered out – really?). From here, a few blocks walk through the seedier section of Shinjuku (“Sin”juku?). Saw a man lying on the ground and several hard-bitten Yakuza-like fellows standing around him and let that be. But soon enough, hotel-home.
Trip question: Are the new people two doors down going to keep me up? Crying babies? Shouting? What next? Gunshots? And I thought Pachinko Parlors were loud. So we shall see.
Trip answer: No, they did not.