Or in a phrase:
This was taken at the VERY top of the Tokyo Tower. It was quite amazing... you can see Mt. Fuji from there. If nothing else, the amusement of the Japanese people coming off the elevator was my favorite: "eeeEEEHHHH!!"
Although Tokyo and Kyoto, and actually, most of the cities, are a vast majority of concrete jungle, they always find ways to have wildlife smack in the middle of everything. And you know, it has the strangest smell. I can't really put my finger on it, but it's leaves but with a slight musty smell that is harsh to the nose. Back on the first day in Kyoto, going up that mountain was a major sensory experience with all the smells, bamboo, stone walkways, and crazy bullfrogs and ravens.
Saturday morning most of us headed off to Kyoto for the Aoi Matsuri (Hollylock Festival), which is a large procession (511 people!) full of traditional clothing. We tried catching it during the first leg of the procession, but we sadly couldn't see much due to the crowds. My group decided to split off for the day, and we had lunch at a wonderful soba/ramen restaurant (ok, really, all the food is wonderful here, and I haven't had a bad meal yet!). Just around the corner we found the place we wanted to stake out, which was to have the parade of people curve around towards us.
After the Aoi Matsuri, we hopped an early shinkansen to Tokyo. I got the total New York sense when we stepped off of the subway onto the street. Now, I've never been to New York, but I can imagine it would have been the same feeling with the neon lights and myriad of taxis. We found our hotel not too far from the Tokyo station, and headed off to dinner.
Yeah, what a dinner.
It was next to the train station, on one of the top floors. We really wanted a sushi boat, but we settled on a spread of various sushi... and loud drunk business men. They were hilarious. The moment we sat down, the man closest to Bethany started talking to us about where we were from, etc (really good english!). Let's just say a couple of beers and sake shots later, we were feeling pretty good about being in Tokyo. ;)
We took our happiness to the streets, however, and set up our tripods for some night shots:
Even after we were pooped out from walking, train-riding, and photographing, we found the energy to do a quick trip to a karaoke bar. :D Imagine a HUGE 8 story building with nothing but private rooms for karaoke. The one in Ann Arbor is no match for this place! Of course, we did Domo Arigato Mr Roboto... yep, we're the gaijin in Japan alright. I did some Beatles and Lady Gaga (she is popular as all get-out here), and yeah, my voice is shaaaaarp. But I felt a lot better after hearing the drunk Japanese man in the hallway trying to sing... or wail, his song.
Sunday morning was spent that a temple on the east side of Tokyo, which according to one of the business men last night, there was another matsuri going on! We got there just in time to see the procession go by, which was much smaller and much more rowdy than the one in Kyoto. The path leading up to the temple was lined with shops and food stalls, and ended at a huge gate with statues on each side (not sure of what they were, however).
I decided to veer off of the group after the temple and spend some quality time with my Japan. I took the subway to Harujuku, one of the most fashionable streets in Tokyo. It's streets full of unusually dressed people, making their own fashion statements.
During my time on this street, I probably saw more Americans (and a few Australians!) there than any other place. Ooohhh and they had Starbucks. I caved in to my chai tea latte over ice. Mmm.
Tokyo Tower was next. Taller than the Eiffel Tower, but based off the same, the highest observation deck is 250m in the sky! Reaaally great views of all of Tokyo.
Got back to Hikone yesterday night. We're doing more of Hikone today, and Nara tomorrow! I WANT TO FEED THE DEER :D