Trip Start Jun 09, 2012
Trip End Jul 01, 2012

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, Tokyo,
Saturday, June 30, 2012

Took the subway to the end of the line, I knew I'd see a Great Buddha, but I also wanted to see how people live outside the downtown core.
There were townhouses, twins, rowhouses, as well as apartments. Minivans were in the driveways and garages, but bicycles abound.
There was a batting cage facility, about the size of a tennis court, but room for twelve batters. What an ego boost to tell friends that you hit it to the fence! One of the apartment buildings had a butcher on the street level. I was surprised to see drink vending machines just outside several apartment and townhouse complexes. I went into the grocery store by the subway line to see how prices differed. Watermelons were $22 instead of $32, and cantaloupes were $12. They don't seem to be scarce, every store has them, more than bananas.

At the temple there was a pond teeming with fish that were jumping over each other to catch a morsel of dog food that a mom and toddler were feeding, and not 500 yards away were a dozen old men sitting around a tiny pond with tons of fishing equipment. Guess men are the same the world over.

I went to the local historical museum, they had a notebook with English descriptions for me. At the end of my visit, I asked for a rest room, then a toilet, in English and French, four people gathered round to help me. Finally I drew the picture of men and women and they all laughed and said toilet. Guess my accent is a little off. Afterwards they bowed and apologized about twenty times.

After asking three people on the street and two people at guest relations in the hotel about the Love Star trees on the streets of Ginza, I went to google and wikipedia to find the answer. July 7 is Tanabata Day, the star lovers festival. It is based on an old Chinese legend of two lovers who neglected their other duties and so the god banned them from being together except on the 7th day of the 7th month. The bamboo trees are covered with poetic notes. Apparently merchants do the most to promote the day. Noting lovers' holidays, Valentines Day, February 14 in Japan is when females express their feelings for males, and a month later, March 14, White Day, men express their feelings to the females.

Subways are my main mode of transportation when I visit these cities. I am pleased to report that the Tokyo subway system improves each time I come (perhaps the authorities read my blog). English signage has greatly improved,
and at the bigger stations there have even been English speaking aides to show you how to use the system. Even though I knew, I was so happy to see them, after having had frustrating times in years past, that I let them show me everything and thanked them profusely. There are now guard rails along the tracks to prevent accidents. The rail gates open simultaneously with the car doors.

Only one full day left in Asia.
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