Friday, January 26, 2018

Our Second Week in Tokyo - A New Daughter, the Zoo, Museums, a Visit to the US...and Shopping!!!

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Sometimes a chance encounter turns into a love story.  We met Sasanna Yee at the archeological park and invited her to dinner.  It was fun having a fellow American over...she's from San Francisco...and the evening was great.  She was quite a distance from her accommodations so we invited her to the stay the night and head out in the morning.

Two days later we got a note from her that her "couch-surfing" deal had changed and she wondered if she could bunk with problem...we have the extra bedroom.  Over the next four days we really got know the bright, charming, engaging woman, her story, and embraced her energy and sense of adventure.  She too is embarking on a nomadic journey...albeit not quite as long as ours.  When her plans were finalized she bade us goodbye with a promise to stay in touch...and she will...that we know.

And this made it all worthwhile in so many ways.

After being cooped up because of the surprise EIGHT inches of snow, the weather finally broke, "spring" returned, and we decided to take in the Tokyo Zoo.  It is small by world standards, older having been started in 1883 with small enclosures.  That part was sad of course since we are not "zoo" people. Kenya and the Serengeti have spoiled us forever.  The animals however looked well cared for and we saw a few species we have never been exposed to...the park was lovely with all of the manicured trees and gardens.

This fellow pretty much summed up his caged environment.

Asian "collared" bear.

Asian Stork.

Spent lotus pods.

From the zoo we wandered around Ueno Park viewing the pagoda and temple grounds.

Tulips were planted around  large fountain and pound.  And it is JANUARY...with snow.  Amazing.

We met our landlord and some friends of his from Canada on our first night.  Tonight we entertained with our first dinner party overseas.  The meal centered around Louise's request for linguini with clams.  It was a grand evening.  We had so much fun we forgot to take a few photos except for this one of the table before everyone

To pass the time we attached our luggage weight issue again.  Now that we have been on the road for 18 months it was time to shed a few pounds...and once again a few things made it to the local charity bins.  Here's what there was before the sort.
 Here's what was left after the purge.  I am now down to 21 pounds (9 kgs).  Bobbie is unwilling to let go of anything.
 The museums and attractions offer 9X12 flyers of current events and exhibitions.  The flyers are free so we grabbed a couple and put them art for the walls.
 Our collection grew over the next few days and now we have a lovely collage to leave behind for future guests....yup, we're redecorating again...LOL.
Ueno Park has several museums as well as the zoo.  We returned on a Sunday and visited first the Naitonal Musuem of Japan - Tokyo.  It is a six building complex housing art from around the world.  We focused on the Japanese and East Asia collections.

A superb mummy reminiscent of Egypt.

The gardens behind one of the buildings.
Amber jade.


The Museum of Nature and Science was older and not moderized.  It's displays reminded us of Chicago's Field Museum.

This massive Blue Whale sculpture graced the front entrance.

Being time to update immunizations we headed over the the US Air Base at Yokota.  It took us two hours by train and was worth being able to spend a day in the USA.  Once you enter the gate you are on US "soil," everything is in English and it is like being home.
Besides a visit to the hosptial and pharmacy for needed updates we got a chance to shop in a Safeway/Kroger store.  EVERYTHING on the shelves is American and in US dollars...even the meat.  We stocked up on a few supplies we have been missing (extra peanut butter, coffee, cheese) and a few treats.

This is the building Bobbie called home for her six years here back in the 80's.  She said the building had not changed much.  The base had of course if so many ways.
Back home that night is was TACO night.  The first one we have had in 18 months with REAL Texmex flavors.

A ribeye steak dinner with a baked potatoe and a salad with blue cheese followed the next day.
We collect masks, all kinds of masks, and in Japan and central masks are ceremonial and not that easy to find.  After some reserach...a lot of research...we discovered that our best changes would be in the Asakusa district.  It happened to be true...and not just for us.  Yikes!

The place was a tourist trap and packed.  The shopping malls and streets were full of tourist stuff and the side streets that were less populated offered some wonderful finds.  We now have two new masks to send home and be saved for display in our collection.
The Shinto Temple is the primary site in Asakusa...unless you are a shopper of course..and the grounds and buildings were lovely.

This pruned and manicured tree is mulberry and said to be over 300 years old.

There is a street completely devoted to Cosplay with costume shops lined up along the way and lots of young...and not so young...shoppers.

A few kilometers from the temple area is Kappabashi Kitchen Street.  It is an 800m long street...several long blocks...with over 200+ shops that specialize in everyting for the kitchen and cooking...both domestic and commercial.  We spend a couple of hours walking through many of them.

Nothing but coffee stuff.
Food cutters for veggies, dough, pies, etc.
An entire store devoted to chopsticks.  Millions of them.

Fake food.  This was hoot.

More bowls.
And then's killing me...truly killing me that none of this can come home.  Shopping for "stuff" is taboo in our agenda...and the shipping costs would be astronomical!!!

We then started a three mile trek to the electronics district.  We had a short list.  Along the way we happened upon a massive Shinto temple and cemetery.  Awesome is so may positive and sad ways too.  The tombstones sit atop vertical vaults where folks are entombed standing up in narrow caskets set into narrow vaults.

The electronics district comprising sevearl full blocks of everything electronic.  We ventured into two of the "large stores," this one being six floors jammed with stuff.  We made a list and went to it.

A long train ride brought us back to our little hamlet.  it has been a pretty full two weeks so far...and TWO MORE TO GO in Tokyo.

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