… was a saying written on a young boy’s t-shirt I saw on the street.
japan so far has been nice. i haven’t seen the busy sights yet, just things around here. yesterday was spent 1. looking for a next hotel, 2. trying to find a breakfast place, 3. visiting the absolutely amazing Senjo-ji temples and shrines in the Asakusa area (20 minutes walk from here, and believe me or not, the streets were deserted), 4. running away from the heat, 5. checking out more local temples, 6. watching the fireworks from the hotel roof and 7. spending hours talking with other travelers on the hotel’s 10th floor balcony.
i actually did mostly everything in the morning, and by 1 i was dying from heat and so i didn’t come back out until 3-ish. yesterday was pretty cloudy (or was that smog/pollution?) thank god! it would be horrible with the sun shinning.
so about finding an hotel… i was looking for something cheaper, and everything was booked. i had to take more days at this hotel, that is, until my friend living here (you might remember me talking about that before) contacted me. so, I’m very happy to say that I’ll be staying with him. this will make japan a whole lot affordable! i have to go meet him this morning, and i have no idea how to get there with the subway… it looks like i might have to transfer 4 times just to go somewhere that should be a straight line.
the Senjo-ji temple complex is unlike anything I’ve seen before (obviously). it is supposed to be the most venerated Buddhist temple in the city and i can see why. everything is so beautiful, and it has a great atmosphere. taking pictures i felt a tad uncomfortable since so many locals where there praying but the whole thing was just wonderful. i visited all of the temples and shrines and there are a lot of them! it was great to watch people pray as well, because it’s so different than what we’re used to i guess. people spend a lot of money there, throwing coins into boxes and buying candles, paper wishes, incense…
at the temple i had a lady come up to me and ask if i could help her son practice English since he was learning it in school. the conversation was pretty limited, especially when i asked him his age and he couldn’t remember how to say it! it turned out that he was 11. so cute! he asked if he could take my picture, so now there will be this picture of me (doing the mandatory peace sign) in a photo album in japan. he even wrote down my name!
after that i walked around, in streets filled with hundred and hundred of vendors trying to sell Japanese souvenirs, from food to plastic sumo wigs.
i went to the washroom at McDonald and was surprised with a technologically advanced Japanese toilet. now, for those who do not know what I’m talking about, these fancy things have a warm seat, play music to drown the sounds of your activity and will rinse, deodorize and dry you as well. so i though, heck, i might never use one of those again and so i went for the “mist” without the deodorizer. well, it wasn’t a mist but a full on jet of warm water somehow perfectly aimed at number 2. pretty surprising! and the thing doesn’t stop on it’s own, so i had to find the stop button while laughing my head off. i will be skipping any water from now on.
the fireworks could be seen from the roof of the hotel, so we all went up there to the “famous rooftop party” as they call it. the view from the 10th floor was amazing, but my fear of heights was really put to the test. the thing lasted about 2 hours and was really great. i saw colors i had never seen before in fireworks: they got every color from the rainbow down to a t. really, this could have been a pride firework. they also did great shapes, like hearts, different smiley faces, mickey mouse and so forth. they were also the highest fireworks i had ever seen. i saw they, because it wasn’t just one firework like i was expecting. it was 2 fireworks, going on at the same time. just incredible.
everyone was gathered on rooftops eating food and watching the fireworks. down in the streets, they had closed a side of the road to let people watch. from my walks today, i got to see just how trusting Japanese people are. near the Sumida river (right beside here, and where the fireworks where), people had marked down areas on the ground with tape and wrote their name (or something) in tape as to reserve a spot for the night. some even left their tarps there. it’s incredible to see that you could reserve a spot and it still be there hours later. that would never happen at home!
so, as a parting note, here are some basic observations so far from Tokyo:
– people here dress exactly the same as in Vancouver, exactly. as many layers, regardless of the fact that it’s much hotter here. i feel right at home watching everyone.
– people drive on the English side of the street.
– they have stores for everything, i even saw a brush store.
– they are pretty smart with space and have these weird parking where cars and bikes are parked on top of one another.
– there are bikes everywhere. how do you tell which one is yours?
– there are a lot of homeless people around here, and tents cities. the streets can smell of urine at points…
– Japanese people are very friendly. i had an old man explain to me with signs that there were going to be fireworks and that i should watch them from my hotel’s roof. one tried to convince me to get a bike. one just seemed happy to see me and i thought he was coming in for a hug.
– the McDonald burger for the country is the teriyaki McBurger. a patty with teriyaki sauce and shredded letuce, nothing more.
– people walk around with little towels to dry their faces during the day.
that’s about all that i can think of right now…
i am not certain if i will have internet access where i am going, so updates might be less frequent. i will try sending something out though before i had out to other cities.
Lisa: i will now be able to give Justin that hug you wanted me to give him.
victor: if you thought that the chapter’s uniform was bad, then you should be lucky that you wouldn’t be wearing the Tokyo McDonald’s uniform: the ladies are pretty stilling in their purple skirt, fuchsia vest, puff-sleeve white pinstripe short-sleeve shirt and funky multicolor scarf. now, that’s a great outfit.