Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Tokyo - The Imperial City

We headed to Tokyo Sunday. A young Chinese woman we met at Temple (or as it's known on base, the Chapel) went along on our first long distance train ride. Her name is Shayna and her husband is at sea. The ride was about 1 hr. 15 min. with a change of trains in Shinagawa. We have train passes, & Allan is scanning his here.

We started at the Ameyoko Market in Ueno, northern Tokyo. This is basically a farmers' market with a lot of recognizable fruits and vegetables and some other stuff... well, you tell me. What is that squigly white stuff? We discussed it and think it's some kind of dried baby fish or shellfish. This of course is pure speculation.

If you remember, Japanese is written using 3 sets of symbols, one being Kanji, which comes from China. Shayna is Chinese and reads Kanji, so when she came across this sign, she pointed it out and translated it: "Don't stand here and pee". Ya can't make this stuff up!

We headed for Senso-ji Temple, but got side tracked at yet another shopping area. It was a heavily traveled street and must have been the kitchenware district, store after store had dishes, pots and pans, utensils, & dumpling and rice steamers. Why couldn't we stumble on the shoe and handbag district? Or jewelry!?

The Senso-ji Temple, left & Pagoda in Tokyo.

After seeing as much kitchen stuff as we wanted, we set out again for the temple site. It's an important historical site because the Senso-ji Temple has been located here since the 7th century. The buildings have been destroyed (earthquake, WWII) and rebuilt, probably more than once.

When we reached the temple - remember, a Temple is Buddhist and a Shrine is Shinto - we saw a Kabuki troupe. They were young teens, and very serious in their costumes and make-up. A performance was going on, but unfortunately, not only was I unable to get a photo, I couldn't see anything but the very top of the stage.

A large crowd was watching the play, which did not include a dialogue. As the day progressed, we had a nice lunch and nibbled the local offerings. Pastries are not nearly as sweet in Japan as in the US. That's not to say that there are no gooey items.

We stopped to buy this fruit-on-a-stick and got to play a pacinko. The holes were numbered and my ball landed in a '1', so Allan only got one, which was more than we wanted. What we thought was a strawberry was very salty and covered with a thick clear sweet... something. Like a clear candy apple. Shayna thought it was a pickled plum. Well, that was something that we didn't consider.

QUICK LESSON - The price we pay for items in Japan depends on two things, the ticket or negotiated price, and the exchange rate.

Now, because the dollar is weak, one dollar will get you 88 yen, so if you buy something for Y1000, that's $11.43. BUT... you could have bought that item 3 years ago for $8.05 because the exchange rate was 118 yen to the dollar. Needless to say, we hope the dollar rebounds soon.

1 comment:

  1. I feel the same about the dollar. My buying power is wayyy down in Montreal right now.

    Liz, check out the second-to-last picture in this article from a blog I read. Looks like you have a very talented doppelganger out there!