Saturday, December 30, 2006

Tachikawa, Churrasco, & Yokohama

I was in Tachikawa yesterday on my own, but didn't take any pictures. In the evening, I went to a pot-luck dinner with some members from church.

Today we met the Souza's, a Brazilian couple, and some of their friends, for lunch at a Churrasco in Shibuya.

Derek is featured here in his recently purchased [from a thrift store] Mighty Johnny shirt.

The Souza's:

Me in front of Barbacoa:

Derek demonstrating the after effects of "All You Can Eat."

Entering the train station.

This girl went to a lot of trouble to make her hair look that way, so I felt obligated to record it for all time and eternity.

On the train to Yokohama. Derek made a face.

Distinguished gentleman on the train.

Yokohama's China Town:

Random English on a shopping bag.

Little Brazil within China Town.

Back in regular Yokohama, things felt Japanese once again: McDonald's, Denny's, & 7-11.

Yokohama Bay.

Most public restrooms you'd find in parks and such have a very 'open door' policy.

Before returning home, we stopped by a convenience store. This simmering smorgasbord is the Japanese version of nachos and corn dogs.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Ueno & Akihabara

I was on my own today, so I have considerably less photos to show from my travels.

Today's destination was Ueno, specifically, Ueno Park.

Meet Takamori Saigo, a samurai born in 1827. He took his own life in ritual suicide after a failed attempt to overthrow the government.

You can read all about him here.

Nearby is a memorial dedicated to the men who opposed Saigo, called Tombs of the Shogitai Soldiers. I snapped this close up shot of the memorial.

The Crow.

A happy couple watching the birds on Shinobazu Pond.

Ameya Yokocho is a street market where hundreds of stalls sell everything from fish to handbags. I gave it a thorough inspection.

I noshed not once, but twice on kaiten sushi: plates of sushi circulate on a conveyor belt around the counter--customers simply reach for the dishes they want and pay for the number of dishes they take.

I also explored Akihabara and it's "Electric City", but forgot to take photos.

Shinjuku & Shimo-Kitazawa

It rained all day Tuesday, so we went to a mineral bath resort in the mountains and soaked in their healing waters. I didn't take any pictures, since we were naked and it wouldn't have been appropriate.

Yesterday, however, featured blue skies and warm weather. We rode the train out to Shinjuku to see the sights.

Me riding the train to Shinjuku

Don't let the sign fool you. Shinjuku's no small-time community

The massive towers of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Office building

Views of Tokyo from the 45th floors of said towers

Mt. Fuji looms in the distance

Some of the fishy items you can find in the basement food halls of most department stores. We go there for the free samples. Not of these items though.

That evening we went to a concert performance and dinner. Dessert arrived in the form of a gelatin formed Mt. Fuji.

A group of us went on a karaoke escapade afterwards, but we forgot to take pictures. This is a shot of us on our way home.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Christmas Eve & Christmas

Through some form of marketing genius, Kentucky Fried Chicken has positioned themselves as the traditional Christmas meal. The first KFC was so packed we had to drive to a more remote location to get our holiday drumsticks.

The Colonel stands watch outside.

Our Christmas Eve feast: KFC, sushi, fried potatoes, & edamamae.

Followed by two kinds of Christmas Cake, another Japanese tradition.

Christmas Day is like most other days in Japan. It's not the big holiday it is in the states. We were out thrift shopping, visiting another 100 Yen store, and CostCo. Derek was able to borrow a van from the political office he works at. So we had wheels for the day. They keep it parked in one of those elevator parking structures. Space is at a premium here.

We went to one of Derek's favorite ramen shops for lunch. This is a pork bone based broth with added pickled Japanese vegetables on top. So tasty.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Harajuku & Shibuya

Pictures from my day in Harajuku & Shibuya.

Entering the gate to Meiji Jingu Shrine in Shibuya.

A happy couple posing for wedding pictures.

On the plus side, being hunched over is a time-saver when living in a bowing society.

Derek takes a squat. I should mention that many of these shots are from his handiwork. Between the two of us, not many photographs go untaken.

Another happy couple strolls into marriage.

The wedding procession.

A brief rest.

I took the man up on his offer.

We then exchanged cards.

On Takeshita Dori--a fine place to window shop and people watch.

On the corner of Meiji, looking up Omotesando road. A very popular place to shop.

Also, a very wealthy area. One of a half dozen Lamborghini's spotted today.

A plethora of wondrous Izod sweaters were to be found at the Chicago second hand store. Our thrift stores are combed over for these fine linens, which are transported back to Japan to be sold at premium prices.

This is the vending machine capital of the world.

Hachiko crossing, one of the most famous landmarks in Japan. It's all cars until the lights change, and then it's all people. Pretty cool to see in person.

In Japan, it's common to see 'little people' used as pack mules for long shopping trips.

Lost in the crowd.

Not a kid's meal.

These gals were putting on quite the show as we made our way to the train station to return home.