Sunday, December 26, 2010

A day's outing in Tokyo with friends

Much as I hate it, sixteen months after starting my blog, I find it necessary to print my first retraction. Yuck! Previously, I've written that the building below is the residence of the Emperor's family - WRONG! It's just a building on the palace grounds.

Two days ago, a group including Allan, five co-workers and their families (20 in all) toured the Imperial Palace grounds. We met at one of the eight entrances to the grounds, which is considered the most valuable piece of real estate on the planet.

When the tour began, we got small recorders with the tour information in English. The Japanese guide spoke enough to tell us which number to listen to at each site. We were also instructed to stay in four lines, which is a bit of a joke. Who thinks that people are actually going to stay in line while wandering around gardens and buildings listening to the history of the Japanese Empire?

The buildings on this site were built and paid for by several 13th or 14th century Shogun and their men. To mark the areas built with their money and men, an identifying symbol was carved into a wall. Can you see the little circle with the lines across it?

There were lots of buildings with lots of purposes, historic and current, but we didn't actually see where the Emperor's family lives. I just know that you can't see it from outside the gates.

Raeni Russell and I are on the bridge that you can see again in the next picture. The tour took about an hour and a half. Afterwards, some of the group went to other sites in Tokyo, and we continued on to a great Chinese lunch on the 27th floor of a downtown building - great view.

LCDR Veronica Demaio, Allan, Gene Russell, Tom Takagi

Our destination after lunch is the building shown here. It's the Diet - pronounced just like diet coke. It's the Japanese parliament building. There's a House of Representatives and a House of Counselors, which we toured.

The day with the group ended after the second tour and Allan and I walked to Ginza. Ginza is the 5th Avenue of Tokyo, great shopping. Allan didn't buy me the $3,000 coat that I really liked.

We were looking for dinner when we saw this guy. It was December 24th. He was cooking in one of the cafes in the path to the train. We dubbed him 'Ninja Santa'.

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