Tokyo Travel Blog› entry 3 of 12 › view all entries
Again I rose early this morning, really looking forward to some more rice and French fries for breakfast! I wasnâ€™t disappointed!
We took the train from Shinjuku to Tokyo station where we were destined for the Imperial Gardenâ€”the current Imperial Palace is situated there, but we werenâ€™t able to see it because it is off limits to ordinary citizens. We did notice a bunch of people with large cameras pointed at a spot on the wall surrounding the palace and found out they were paparazzi trying to snap a glimpse of what goes on behind the closed doors of the imperial palace! The weather was extremely nice this morning and we all enjoyed a leisurely walk through the gardens.
After spending the morning there we headed back to Tokyo Station being careful to avoid the massive amount of runners who circled the imperial gardens. This was more difficult than it sounds because in Japan people walk on the left side of the sidewalk as well as drive on the left side of the street! This was different than other places Iâ€™ve visited like England, Australia, and Ireland where people drove on the opposite side, but walk on the right side.
On the JR train, we headed to a district in Tokyo called Ginza, which is famous for its really expensive and massive department stores. While everyone else ate lunch at a place called Yoshinoya, me and Nadean visited one of these department stores, 0101. We only went through the first floor because it was packed! Apparently there was a fifty percent off sale going on, though when we looked at the prices on some of those thingsâ€”like the handbagsâ€”and found that even with the discount they cost over four hundred dollars!! From then on we figured that these stores were too expensive to even look at, so we headed back to the meeting spot to wait for everyone to finish eating.
Our purpose for going to Ginza was to visit the Kabuki-za, a type of Japanese theatre which is characterized by the fact that all the actors in Kabuki shows are men. Originally, there were women, but they were banned because they were seen as being to risquĂ© and shows were used to advertise brothels. So now all actors are men in really bright and colorful make up! Seeing a kabuki show was one of the things I was most looking forward to doing in Japan and I was not disappointed! Though our seats were all the way in the very back row and part of the stage was obscured from our view, I still enjoyed it a lot! It was really fun to watch and to see the costumes! The short show we saw was a typical Kabuki skit where the main actor strikes poses and waits for the audience to applause. If he does not get an applause that pleases him, he strikes the pose again. I remembered that from the Theatre class I took last year, though I donâ€™t think a lot of the other people in our group knew that. The show of course was in Japanese, but we were provided an English audio supplement to let us know what was going on in the story. I wished it would have been a direct translation of the lines though, because the show lost a lot of its artistic merit for English speakers because there was no dialogue! Figuring out Japanese dramas would become a pastime for us in the future though, when we watched TV after all our activities for the day were over.
After the show, our group split up and me and Nadean, who hadnâ€™t eaten earlier, decided to go find some place to eat now and ended up at Yoshinoya. It became obvious that it was going to be difficult to find food that I could eat because I am a vegetarian and most Japanese food includes fish or beef.
Back in Shinjuku, Nadean and I decided to go out exploring. Iâ€™d found a recommendation for a music venue to visit whilst in Tokyo and had directions to it so we decided to go check it out. We were disappointed however as it was a basement venue and the cover charge was 2000 yen. I was hoping it would be like music venues back home in the Twin Cities where people hang out outside, but there was no one around. So we wandered around a bit more, browsing some arcades which were filled with young couples. It was fun to look at the prizes one could win from crane gamesâ€”everything from candy to figurines to giant stuffed animals.
I wish more of our group had wanted to go out in Shinjuku instead of Ginza because we passed a karaoke place and I really wanted to try it out! Karaoke is the another thing I really want to do while Iâ€™m in Japan! Oh well, hopefully weâ€™ll get to do it another time.
That was how we spent our last night at the New City Shinjuku Hotel in Tokyo. Tomorrow afternoon we head for Hakone and the Onsenâ€”hot springs!