Sunday, November 30, 2008

Harajuku and Ginza

After the Meiji Shrine, we made our way to the other side of the universe, er, right across the street to Harajuku. We saw some interesting characters, but mostly I didn't get pictures of them. These are a few of the people we saw who were fairly indicative of the general population of this Tokyo neighborhood. Needless to say, Alex and I felt a little out of place. :)

Harajuku is a serious shopping district - from the high end to the, um, colorful, if you want it, you can buy it in Harajuku.

We made our way back to our hotel after Harajuku and Meiji and spent some more time exploring our neighborhood. The Imperial Palace was just a stone's throw to the west of our hotel. Ginza was just as close on the east side.

And while you could buy just about anything in Harajuku. You can buy just about anything, provided it's really expensive, in Ginza. From the department stores (amazing and nothing like ours) to the high-end retailers to the technicolor signage, Ginza is an experience, and we enjoyed it immensely.

And we got to scope out Kabuki-za, where we headed the next day. No pictures allowed inside, but it's pretty on the outside, so here, take a look.

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Saturday, November 29, 2008

Visit to the Meiji Shrine in Tokyo

The vacation recount continues!

After recovering from our trip to the fish market, Alex and I made our way to the Meiji Shrine in Shibuya, Tokyo.

In the middle of the hustle and bustle of Tokyo and just opposite the main part of Harajuku (a topic for another post) lies this peaceful shrine dedicated to Emperor Meiji (who died in 1912) and Empress Shoken.

The main entrance is right around the corner from the train station, but a long stroll through a heavily wooded park provides you the necessary transition to appreciate this Shinto shrine.

Barrels of sake that were donated to the shrine.

Kimonoed ladies

Upon entering the shrine, we were immediately ushered to sit down and take part in a tea and sweets ceremony. The sweets were as tasty (surprisingly) as they were pretty.

After our sweets, we headed over to the large tree in the center of the courtyard, surrounded by the prayers of the shrine's visitors. We even added a couple of our own.

It was a beautiful spot and a welcome respite from the rushed chaos of the city outside its boundaries.

More Tokyo for tomorrow's last day of NaBloPoMo! I'm definitely going to have to keep going past the end of November. I have a few more days of photos to share.
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Friday, November 28, 2008

Tokyo after the fish market

After waking up bright and early for our first day in Tokyo, we decided to spend the rest of the day exploring our neighborhood. Our hotel was in a fantastic location, right across the street from the Imperial Palace and gardens and Hibiya Park.

Twice during our trip, I went on a run around the Imperial Palace and its gardens, so these may be my most ingrained memories of our trip - I saw them a lot. :)

Not much else to say, here's some more pictures:

Cute school kids in Hibiya Park

One of the swans in the moat around the Imperial Palace

Statue of a very famous Samurai warrior

I guess I could have just let you read the sign.
This pretty much explains it all.

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Thursday, November 27, 2008

What I'm thankful for


And this.

Especially this.

Patrick slaved all day by the stove cooking for us today...

...ha! But honestly, Patrick is an awesome guest - very helpful.

Except when he complains about our music selections.

The star of our Thanksgiving show is always the stuffing, my grandmother's recipe. I love that while I never knew her, I still get to pay tribute to her every November.

There is a ton (a ton! so much that I make it in a giant vat) of stuff in this stuffing. And one, basic, store-bought ingredient. I know, I know, it's semi-homemade. :( But let's not call it that. It is awesome and so what if I use store-bought stuffing mix. This is much better than anything Sandra Lee could make.

And then the turkey. That's pretty good as well. It's a 24 hour process from refrigerator to table, but well worth it.

And then everything else. Our stove top was working over-time today. And that's where Patrick came in. He's excellent at making roux. If you ever need help with that, give him a call!

In fact, everyone chipped in. Those pies in the first picture? They are courtesy of my mom's oven. And they were awesome.

We had a great Thanksgiving today on Southport. I hope you all did as well!

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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Welcome to Tokyo, home of cool fish markets

When we made our plans to be in Tokyo - everyone we met who had been there before told us we had to visit the fish market. And that we had to go early. Since we were on New Zealand time when we first arrived, it made sense to go the first day. And so we went.

The market in general is fascinating, but the tuna auctions are the real highlight. Basically, you walk up to a doorway where you are allowed to peek in at (but not enter) a room full of dead fish. It's cooler than it sounds. Tuna are huge! And tasty! (And filled with mercury, so I don't eat them.)

Me and the big tunas

After some quality time watching people yell about and haul around giant tunas, we explored the rest of the market that we had only quickly walked through on the way in. The market is full of aisle upon aisle of fish vendors. I walked around fascinated and imaging what it would be like for this to be my daily life. I'd definitely have to learn to smoke cigarettes, drive around on moving barrels (sorry I didn't get a picture of this) and inhale diesel fumes. But at least I would eat well...

The fish on offer were scary and beautiful and so unusual for us.

Alex, scarred for life after seeing too many weird and dead fishies

Then the vendors started getting their tuna. And cutting up their tuna. And the tuna is huge. So there are a lot of people involved with the tuna sawing. Makes you really appreciate the tuna on your plate. If you ate tuna, that is.

Giant 1/4 tuna slabs

Super big knives are involved

And the best part about going to the fish market? Sushi for breakfast in the very early a.m. We went to Sushi Dai, recommended by our hotel concierge for its extremely long lines. At least that's what we wondered at first. But really, it was excellent. The best sushi we ever ate. Except the creepy shellfish delicacy they served me. I need to find a way to purge that from my memory. But everything else was excellent.

Our sushi man

Our sushi

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