Tokyo, Kamakura, and Yokohama

Trip Start Oct 18, 2005
Trip End Dec 15, 2005

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Friday, October 21, 2005

Day 1: The first day was actually a day and a half, but most of it was spent travelling. The first flight was to Vancouver, BC. We only spent two hours there, but we still got a stamp for the passport. Not bad for both of our first trip to Canada.

The lady behind the counter in Portland was kind enough to move us out of the nice, comfortable, half-empty middle aisles and into the window seats...right next to the bathroom...for 10 hours. That was neat. We briefly thought about using our blankets as a stink shield, but we were afraid we wouldn:t get any of the free drinks you're entitled to on international flights if we cut ourselves off from the rest of the plane. At least we had lots of new friends to talk to as they waited to slam the toilet door behind our heads.

We finallly arrived in Tokyo not too much the worse for wear. My friend Shoji, who I worked with in Saipan, picked us up and took us to his apartment in Chiba. After a quick dinner, we put our jetlagged bodies to bed and called it a day. We were standing in Shoji's living room when we felt the building begin to shake! An earthquake after we had only been in Japan for 3 hours!! We didn:t get to see Chikako, Shoji's wife and another of my Saipan co-workers, that night since she got home from work late and we were already sacked out dreaming about how much we weren't missing work.

Day 2: We got up bright and early for our first full day in Japan. We saw Chikako briefly before she went to work, ate a delicious breakfast cooked by Shoji,
and headed out to explore Tokyo on our own. Time to brush the dust off my Japanese!

We started at Asakusa, an area of Tokyo with a really cool shopping arcade (a really long outdoor/indoor market street) and one of the biggest temples in Tokyo. Although it isn:t the most beautiful one, it is very popular. We paid 100 yen for our very own Omikuji (fortune), but since we didn't want to go to jail and have our crops burned, we tied it up so it wouldn't come true. Afterwards, we found a nice place for lunch (after looking at the wrong map for about 20 minutes) where we got to sit on the floor and cook our okunomiaki at the table. The place was full of gaijin (foreigners) with the same guide book that we have.

After lunch was a quick trip to the Ginza area, Tokyo's equivalent to Times Square, sort of. It's basically a big shopping area with lots of highrise shopping centers and more Starbucks than you would expect. We went to the Sony building there and got to check out all their new gadgets. There is some pretty cool stuff coming our way, but Janell wouldn:t let me buy the robot dog, the kind that doesn't shed or need to be let out to pee.

We met up again with Shoji and Chikako, and they took us to Yokohama to meet Shuji, another Saipan co-worker, and his two kids for dinner at a Chinese restaurant. It was great to see everybody again!

Day 3: Shoji and Chikako both took the day off to show us around (what awesome hosts!). We went to Kamakura, which is southwest of Tokyo and about an hour and a half from Chiba by train. Kamakura is full of temples, as it was the capital of Japan for a brief period around 1100. We saw a very small and quiet one and a very big and busy one. We also got to go inside the big Buddha!

On the way home we stopped at Chinatown in Yokohama. The Chinatown in Yokohama is pretty comparable to the one in San Francisco. Of course, we had some Chinese food. Who would have thought that two of our first three dinners in Japan would be Chinese food!
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