Category Archives: Travel

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.

 

 

Tokyo, Day 2: The best laid plans

My second day in Tokyo has been filled with surprises.

alarm-clock-shows-four-o-clock-picture-66338449First, I woke up at 4 a.m. — jet lag — so my day has been much longer than I anticipated.  I got some actual work accomplished, and emailed and IM’ed with some folks who were still at their desks on the other side of the world.

I was very productive…and I should sleep really well tonight.

My business meeting also lasted a lot longer than I thought it would, so I didn’t have time for any sightseeing as originally planned.  But the session went great, the client is happy, and I can devote the rest of my time in Tokyo to play.

Speaking of time, I need to spend quite a bit more checking my wish list and studying the Tokyo subway map.  That puppy is going to require my complete attention if I am going to actually end up in the areas of the city where I want to visit.

As you can see, it is a bit of a challenge.

Tokyo-Subway-Map-6.mediumthumb

I accept!

Lost in translation

tokyo

Guess where I’m going tomorrow?

PSYCHED!

Follow that dog

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Amtrak train
BOS 》NYP
July 19, 2014

“Dog people are good people.”

The name game

Is your name Chris? Or Audrey? Or Dominic? There’s a Diet Coke out there with your name on it.

Literally.

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I found this bottle with Chris’ name on it at a hoagie shop near the Amtrak station in Paoli, Pennsylvania.  When I asked the employee at the counter about it, he had no clue what Coke was doing.

Which was helpful.

So I searched the bottle’s #ShareaCoke hashtag on Twitter and found a large community of people who had tweeted pics holding a bottle of Diet Coke bearing their own name!  How lucky for them.

I tweeted my Chris pic.  Hopefully he (or she) will appreciate it.  And if someone out there finds the elusive Carla bottle, comment/tweet/email/Facebook me.

This is suddenly very important.

Stars and stripes

I spend most Fourth of July holidays occupied by a very British tradition –

The Championships, Wimbledon

In recent years there haven’t been any American tennis players, male or female, in contention for the major titles.  This year’s champions are Serbian Novak Djokovic — yay! — and Czech Petra Kvitova.

But things may be changing in a few years.

The boys Wimbledon final was an all-American affair between qualifier Noah Rubin and six-seeded Stefan Kozlov.  Rubin won in three sets and the two players, who are friends off-court, posed for this patriotic shot with their trophies:
Noah+Rubin+Stefan+Kozlov+Day+Thirteen+Championships+RJOaaMyS-ZWl
Finally — some American fireworks in jolly ol’ England!

Stop and go

Another train trip last night, another two-hour delay.

But not one person complained.

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Our train was held at the station in Philadelphia for over an hour because an Acela near Wilmington hit two people on the tracks.

Both died.

No matter how long I was stuck on that train… how late I was for my meeting… or even how lousy the weather was when I finally arrived in Washington –

It was a great day to be alive.

Bricked in

My sister and I are planning a trip to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter later this year.

wizard world
Two childless women. Headed to an amusement park. I can’t wait.

Luckily, Universal Orlando welcomes people without children to their properties. Sure, the Harry Potter books were originally written for a young adult audience, but the franchise has an appeal that defies age.

I’m glad they recognize that.

Legoland is not quite as open-minded.

Travel Trip Legoland Florida

Only adults accompanied by a child are allowed in the Legoland locations during regular business hours. They do have occasional adults-only evening sessions, but the message is clear:

If you don’t have a child, you are guilty until proven innocent.

Is it so hard to believe that someone would want to visit Legoland to be inspired by the design?

Disappointing.