Category Archives: Life

Tokyo, Day 5: Tokyo Tower, Narita

My flight home today to New York wasn’t until afternoon,  so I decided to squeeze in some more sightseeing before check-out.

My feet voted against the idea, so I took a taxi to the Tokyo Tower which, like my hotel, is located in the Roppingi district.

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It looks like an orangey-red Eiffel Tower, so I imagined it also occupied a large, grassy expanse. But this is Tokyo; the tower (which is taller than Eiffel) is sitting directly on the street.

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You can see it here reflected in the building across the street.

(I like that shot.)

There are two observation levels. The first offers beautiful views of Tokyo.

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But when you ride to the tip-top, you appear to be in the clouds.  And when you are that far up, it calls for one thing –

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Selfie!!

After I came back down to Earth, I grabbed lunch at Bubby’s, the Tokyo location of a New York restaurant in Tribeca and Brooklyn.

I discovered it quite by accident a few blocks from my hotel and had to check it out.

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Bubby’s is famous for their breakfast, burgers and homemade pie. I had banana-walnut pancakes for lunch — hey, I was on vacation — and they were good.

It was the perfect transitional meal before I headed toward home.

See you soon!

Tokyo, Day 4: Asakusa, Shibuya, Rippongi

After eating a hearty Japanese breakfast of green salad, rice and hot tea, I took the subway to the Asakusa district, which is home to Tokyo’s oldest attraction, the Senso-ji temple.

2014-07-27 09.03.45(I picked a good day to brave the trains.  Foot traffic was fairly light, and I found the signage and announcements clear and easy to understand.

And yes, the Tokyo subway is clean and quiet, except for the occasional screaming baby.)

2014-07-27 09.46.18The temple entrance is guarded by the gods of wind and thunder at the Kaminarimon Gate.  They didn’t seem that ferocious to me, and quite open to a selfie or two.

Once inside the gate, there was shopping galore, and I had the opportunity to get my fortune  — after saying a prayer and paying a small stipend.  I ended up getting “the very best fortune.”

So that’s cool.

2014-07-27 10.01.13The main hall is a five-story pagoda.  There’s a incense cauldron in front; people were rubbing the incense on themselves for good luck or simply waving the smoke toward themselves.

I opted for the latter.

2014-07-27 10.52.43Across the river from the temple is the Asahi Beer Hall. It’s golden plume, which is supposed to be beer foam, is a Tokyo landmark (although the locals call it the ‘golden turd’). I love that.

I was excited to visit the Taiko Drum Museum, but it wasn’t at the map location, and business owners nearby hadn’t heard of it.

Seems like they would have heard a drum…nevermind.

2014-07-27 11.57.21I jumped back on the subway and took the Ginza Line to the Shibuya district.

Shibuya Crossing is as new as Asakusa is old.  There are video screens and noise and thousands of people seemingly moving at once, but the chaos has a kind of order to it.

And remember the good-looking guy I saw yesterday plastered on buildings?

He was at Shibuya, too.  Gotta figure out who he is.

 

 

2014-07-27 12.38.50Hachiko the dog was there, too — well, the statute that is.

His master died in 1925, but the dog continued to go to the station to meet him until his own death some ten years later.

The pup was very popular; it was hard to get a shot.  I don’t know whose hand that is, but he is forever immortalized here on the Egg.

Lucky tourist.

After a stop back at the hotel for the standard wash, clothing change and nap — the heat really takes it out of you — I ended the day at the Roppingi Hills, a large shopping / arts / entertainment complex in the district where I am currently staying.

2014-07-27 16.38.09I visited the Mori Art Museum, an extraordinary contemporary art museum (with an even better store).

I’m told the  observatory has amazing city views, but it was closed because of the weather.  I found that odd…until it started storming.

It was slightly less sticky afterwards, so it was worth it.

I’m resting my feet and back until tomorrow.  Only one more morning of adventure and then the flight home to NYC!

 

Tokyo, Day 3: Jimbocho, Marunouchi

I was free to play tourist today, so I began in the Jimbocho district where my conference hotel was centered.
2014-07-26 08.33.10My first stop was within walking distance, so I grabbed a water from one of the vending machines that occupy every corner of Tokyo.

(It turned out to be apple-favored…one of the perils of not reading Japanese.)

2014-07-26 08.29.55I don’t know who this guy is, but he must be a pretty big deal.  His face was plastered on every other building along my walk.

He’s cute.  Love the bangs, too.

Most tourists visit Japan in spring or fall; now I understand why.  I didn’t have a long walk, but even in the early morning hours, temperatures were in the 90’s with staggering humidity.  I quickly adopted the Japanese practice of walking with an umbrella.  It really helps.

My first stop was the Koishikawa Korakuen, a 70,000 square meter formal garden.

2014-07-26 09.05.30This guy was the first to greet me along the stone pathways.  It was ten degrees cooler inside the garden, so I was glad I took my guidebook’s recommendation to come early in the day, before the noise from nearby Tokyo Dome (baseball and amusement park) could be heard.

2014-07-26 09.30.43You can see the Dome in the background of this shot of a lily pond.

When I first came upon it, I thought a spaceship was hovering nearby.  It was very surreal.

After I left the garden, I decided to take a peek at the Tokyo Dome grounds.

There was an 11 a.m. baseball game, and fans were already streaming into the grounds.  I got a better look at the roller coaster, but was particularly fascinated by a sculpture near the entrance to the park.

2014-07-26 09.52.05Okay.

Hmmm.

I couldn’t find a placard with an explanation for the sculpture.  So, let’s take the highroad and say it is some kind of flower.

Or sea creature.

Or water faucet.

It’s hard to un-see it, I know that.

On my walk back, I checked out some of the used bookstores that line the streets of Jimbocho, which is considered the center of book publishing in Tokyo.  Then I stopped by the hotel to make a complete clothing change — totally necessary — before heading to the Marunouchi District.

imperial moatThe Imperial Palace was just a couple of blocks from my hotel, so I walked along it’s enormous moat — with many brave people jogging in the heat — then headed into the business district for lunch.

Next on my list was the Nihombashi Bridge, which is the geographic center of the city.  Based on everything I had seen so far, I was expecting the bridge to be on the same scale.

2014-07-26 12.27.20But the ancient passageway is small and rather understated; I don’t know that I would have noticed it unless I was looking for it.

The expressway overhead plays a big part in that.  It casts a long shadow.

Even smaller but oh so colorful was the Kite Museum down the street, devoted to the Edo-dako style kite.

I entered here out of curiosity, but stayed a good long time (and not because it was air-conditioned).

2014-07-26 12.41.47The kites were really beautiful art pieces, displayed as kites, framed under glass, and covering the walls and ceilings.

 

2014-07-26 12.39.582014-07-26 12.39.30

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I moved to a hotel in the Roppingi district in the late afternoon and treated myself to an unexpected but thoroughly enjoyable four-hour nap!

I am refreshed and ready for tomorrow’s adventures in Tokyo.

 

 

Lost in translation

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Guess where I’m going tomorrow?

PSYCHED!

Hot time in the ol’ town

I HATE BLOW DRYING MY HAIR.

Blow-dry

I have a lot of it. And in the summer, it is a hot, time-consuming, uncomfortable, thankless job.  Plus, I have to flat iron it to get it really straight.

Yes, I splurge for blow-outs at the salon now and then, but tonight, it’s on me.

And I hate when it’s my turn.

Follow that dog

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Amtrak train
BOS 》NYP
July 19, 2014

“Dog people are good people.”

That’s life

Richard Linklater’s film Boyhood has received enormous attention and near perfect reviews.

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It should.

The fact that it was 12 years in the making is epic enough. That the same actors gathered together to recreate this family each year…so the passage of time Is made all the more authentic by every bad haircut, each pop culture reference.

But Boyhood’s true appeal lies in Linklater’s choice of subject matter: the simple, day-to-day ups and downs of a family doing their best to juggle school and jobs and divorce and remarriage and financial worries and love and loss.

Chances are, at certain points in this movie, you will recognize yourself or your family.

And it will make you smile.

Constructive criticism

Feedback — we have to give it and receive it, sometimes daily depending on our jobs.

That doesn’t make it any easier to hear.

Tim Minchin, the Olivier-award winning and Tony-nominated songwriter of Broadway’s Matilda, once received a very bad review that he couldn’t really shake off.  How did he deal with it?

He wrote a hilarious song about it.

I’ll have to try that sometime…

Note — Minchin is currently workshopping a new musical in London based on the movie Groundhog Day. Can’t wait to hear those lyrics!

Leftovers

I am fascinated by The Golf Channel’s coverage of The Open at Royal Liverpool.

open coverage golf channelSo far this week, they have broadcast seven hours of ‘live’ coverage each day — followed by a repeat of that same coverage in the evening hours — and the golf tournament hasn’t even started yet.

That’s three days, 14 hours per day, of nothing but press conferences, talking heads and video of a practice round or two.

But no golf.

When the tournament begins on Thursday — at 4am ET, mind you — ESPN has the honors of showing actual rounds of golf.

Sucks to be the baby of the (cable) family, am I right?