It’s the morning of our third day in Tokyo. Yes, I’ve already fallen behind on blogging. I started writing an account of yesterday’s adventures yesterday evening, but we succumbed to fatigue and jet lag and fell asleep at about 7:40.
We spent the day with a tour guide named Tamae. Tamae-san is an engaging young woman and we enjoyed her company as much as we enjoyed the places that she took us to. What follows is a very brief summary of what we did which I’m squeezing in before we go to breakfast and then to Kamakura.
We first visited the grounds of the Imperial Palace, a 230-acre spread of park-like grounds with the palace in the center on a hill, ringed by two vast moats. The palace itself is not open to the public (except for two days out of every year) but the moats and bridges are impressive and the trees on the grounds are beautifully sculpted.
Next we went to the Meiji Shrine, a large Shinto shrine located on 175 acres of land. (I’m mentioning these sizes partly because real estate is so expensive in Tokyo that the size of these estates is quite significant in that it illustrates how important they are to the Japanese.) Tamae-san told us that passing through the two gates would purify us and also led us through the cleansing ritual that is performed before you visit the shrine itself. (In a nutshell, you pour water on your hands and rinse your mouth.) We were lucky enough to see two traditional weddings in progress.
After that we had lunch. Tamae-san and I had sashimi, rice, miso soup, and bits of pickled vegetables, and Tracie was luckily able to enjoy a plate of pasta with tomatoes and basil.
Next we took a boat cruise on the Sumida river to view the cherry blossoms. The cherry blossoms really are beautiful. We are absurdly lucky to be able to see them since their blooms last only for a week. It was also interesting to observe how many Japanese take the time to see them. The vast majority of our fellow tourists at all of the locations we visited were Japanese.
After that we walked through a shopping area in Asakusa and visited a Buddhist temple, but I have to cut the account short here because we have to go to breakfast. Tonight maybe I’ll be able to stay awake long enough to write again.