Kate (kate_nepveu) wrote,

Japan: Tokyo day 2

(Written Tuesday night, posted Wednesday morning.)

A really good day.

We started in Asakusa, which has a nice temple complex called Sensô-ji founded when a golden Kannon statue was fished out of the river. (It includes a shrine to the two fisherman who found it, and their lord who built the temple.) It has some buildings and gates that predate WWII, rare in Tokyo, and a small but nice garden.

There is also a roofed-over shopping street leading up to the temple, which is more permanent and touristy than the market at Tô-ji, but was still a lot of fun. In particular, I spent *ages* in Sukeroku, a tiny shop at the very end of the street filled with amazing minatures. The store was founded in 1860 and is filled with great stuff. The chatty proprieter told us that his wares are only available there, and that when he went to New York decades ago they were only displayed at Tiffany's. I eventually bought a set of foxes in formal dress and a wooden owl (meant as a bead ornament), and since they weren't cheap, am now forbidden from buying things for myself unless they are very cheap or unless I absolutely cannot live without them. =>

Chad also bought a few souvenirs at another shop, and since he was buying stuff anyway I threw in a $3 waving cat (which met the "very cheap" criteria--hey, how can I go to Japan and not get a waving cat?).

After lunch we went to Ueno and strolled through the park until we came to the Tokyo National Museum. We started with a special exhibition with the amazingly inappropriate title, "Let's ZEN!" It's an exhibit of treasures from the Kyoto Gozan Temples, and has some very nice art. Unfortunately 1) pictures weren't permitted and 2) the building it was in had some sickly-sweet chemical in the air that left the roof of my mouth raw. The archeology section, in the same buiilding, was also interesting.

We then saw all of the Japanese Gallery, of which one floor is arranged chronologically and one is arranged by "genre," or type of work. I was a little less interested in the historical sections, but they all were well done, and the genre section included some great toys--I took pictures and we'll see how well they look on the big screen without flash. On the whole it's quite a good museum and I enjoyed it. (Also the opportunity to sit down frequently--standing is less hard on the feet than walking, but it still has an effect, and we have a busy day planned for tomorrow.)

Then we went to the Ueno Toshogu shrine in the park, where Tokogawa Ieyasu (one of the inescapable figures of Japanese history) is enshrined. According to the brochure, this is actually the fourth shrine--though it does not say how the process of transferring his soul was accomplished. I imagine it is complicated. It contains two famous dragon carvings that, according to legend, are so life-like that at night they leave the gate pillars and go drink out of the pond, and an elaborate open worked wall.

It was starting to rain, so on the way out of the park we stopped only to see an amazing expanse of lotuses (across the street) and then headed back.

Oh, and for dinner we had okonomi-yaki, which is a savory pancake with lots of stuff inside. I still haven't decided what I think of it--I kept being distracted by what was probably cabbage but crunched like onion (it sets off my acid reflux something awful, so I get really nervous about it). But I've tried it.

And as I write this, the lunar eclipse is happening, but what I see out our 62nd story window is lightning. Which is also fun to watch, though not as rare.

ETA: pictures at http://pics.livejournal.com/kate_nepveu/gallery/0003bhq2
ETA2: Chad's full Flickr set for this day at http://www.flickr.com/photos/11070535@N08/sets/72157602214633291/

Finally, the morning paper contained an obituary for Edward Seidensticker, translator of the first unabridged English _Tale of Genji_ (and the edition that I didn't manage to finish reading before I came here). He leaves behind an impressive body of translations, criticism, and essays.
Tags: japan 2007, trips

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