Tōkyō, Japan
35° 41' N 139° 45' E
Oct 20, 2004 20:50
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Text written in: English

Sightseeing Tokyo

Two days to see this massive city. Help, where to start and what to choose? So many different suburbs, all with their own identity. Lets start with a nice park, Ueno Ohnshi Park. This park, near Ueno station has several museums, temples, a zoo and nice ponds. The weather was autumn-ish. Wind, light rain and not too warm.

I started with a statue of some dickhead, the Statue of Saigo Takamori. It was situated in the south west corner of the large park and I passed on my way to the Tokyop museum. Toshogu Shrine, dating from 1617, was a beautiful wooden shrine with several interesting stone statues around it and with all the falling leaves the setting was perfect. The massive five storey pagoda nearby stood high above the trees but I could not reach it as it was probably in the grounds of the Zoo.

The Kaneji Temple, the Kanto base of the Tendai School of Buddhism is also in the park grounds and was the first Buddhist temple I entered.

The Tokyo National Museum was impressive. Several floors with all kinds of historic art, including interesting pottery, dresses, samurai swords. Of course there were some displays of Dutch relcs dating from the 17th century when the Dutch stopped over here to say hi.

After the museum I wandered through the many pounds in the park and worked my way around it to end up near Nippori station. Taito-ku suburb has many little shrines and temples tucked away in very typical and traditional Japanese suburbs and without any tourists it was very pleasant to wander around. Litterally tens and tens of little wooden temples where hidden between little houses and interesting little cemeteries with typical wooden and stone tombs and tomb stones made interesting exploring. Lunch was a point and order style event I managed myself in a little family restaurant on some corner. The owner seemed amused with the fact I could not speak a single word of Japanese but was friendly nonetheless.

Time for a hop on the excellent and easy to use subway system again. I got off at Otemachi station to enter the Imperial Palace gardens. A small part of this immensely fortified garden is open to the public. Huge walls surround the gardens that are actually quite simple but a pleasure to stroll through. So quiet right in the centre of this city of more than 15 million people. The Imperial Palace is only open on his birthday and on Christmas Day so I was out of luck. The Palace itself was better seen from outside the garden from the Imperial Plaza. the skyline of Tokyo is of course modern but impressive nonetheless. From here I saw the Tokyo Tower that resembles a red version of the Eiffel Tower in paris but I could not be bothered to climb this one.

I wandered through trendy Ginza, south of the Imperial gardens and here huge department stores are situated between boutique shops. The contrast between suburbs is amazing really.

Following Juns advice of the previous day I took the metro to Odaiba, a new waterfront development on the shore of the immense Tokyo Bay. The trip there by metro was interesting as we crossed the Rainbow Bridge offering great views on both side over the water and the immense web of highways, subways and monorails that cris cross above and between the high rises of the central city.

Japanese are crazy as we all know and the even made a complete Holland park near Nagasaki if I recall that location well. the rebuilt many major Dutch buildings on an almost 1 to 1 scale. So I should not have been surprised to find a real Statue of Liberty, New York style, in the new waterfront park. The park made a perfect afternoon for relaxing and enjoying the sea breeze on the surprisingly warm afternoon. Weather is changeable too it seems. Again this suburb, brand new with Trade centres, an amusement park and all sorts of other modern stuff made again a completely different impression compared to all other suburbs.

Back in Ginza is the famous Kabukiza theater that stages kabuki, a traditional and famous Japanese theater art. Jun, who had lived his whole life in Tokyo had never seen Kabuki and decided to join me. A normal Kabuki performance lasts for about 5 hours but you can see parts of the show seperately. We decided to see the last one hour part of the daily performance and although very interesting to see it I was happy I did not book the five hour performance as I had planned to do. Thank God I could hire a head set with a simultaneous English translation. Afterwards we had a simple dinner nearby and Jun came in handy with ordering the meal again.

It had been an interesting day all together and I had managed to squeeze in quite a few suburbs!