April 29, 2008 - Around The World, Day 4 - Tokyo

Outside the zoo, we walk around more of the huge, urban park. Tokyo really has some big parks downtown!

We take this walkway up to another shrine.

This reminded me vaguely of the walkway up to the Ming Tombs.

Funky bird. Not sure...

Jill poses with some peonies for sale.

Private shrine, I think.

Many shrines also have this - a wall of prayers. You buy a wooden block that has symbols on one side and you write your own message on the other.
We saw several messages in German, French, and English, but most were hand-written Asian characters (which, like the people, start to all look alike).

More cherries.

Some musical building.

Memorial to soldiers from some pre-WWI conflict, as I recall.

We duck into a museum that showed Japanese life by decade from the 1920s through the 1970s.

This is the well, rice cooker, and storage bin outside a 1920's home.

This is a one-room house of a coppersmith. To the right is his open-air workroom. To the left is the kitchen/dining room/bedroom.

Similar one-room home/shop of a salesman.

Upstairs are some games that we enjoyed playing.

Leaving that place, we head to lunch. It was HARD to find.
In English, it is Ueno Yabu Soba.
This is what we had to look for...

We saw this sign - doesn't look right.

We saw this sign - still doesn't look right.

This doesn't look right, either.

Neither does this, but...

All these signs were the for the same place - and they're all where we wanted to go...
The script version of their characters are impossible!

We sit down on straw mats to our 12" tall table of sake and soba.
Funny thing about this place - you're supposed to eat a brothy soup of super-long noodles with chopsticks. No crap!
The spoons are for the broth after you finish your soba (buckwheat noodles). To eat the noodles, try to grab them in the middle so each side drips down only about 8-10" or so. Put that as far into your mouth as you can with the chopsticks (assuming you have enough skill to grab some noddles with chopsticks in the first place). Then, slurp like a red-headed stepchild.
Now, picture a restaurant full of people making these loud slurping sounds.
Sound appetizing?
Well, that's why I think they drink sake.
So, Jill started gently placing the noodles on her spoon and eating off that. It was much neater - and quieter. But this couple...

This couple saw her do it (as did the whole restaurant). They laughed and smiled at her.
We really liked the people there. They smile, they laugh. Not like the urban French. More like kids - innocent and fun-loving kids (in a good way).

When I saw this calculator, I had to take a picture. Even the cashier smiled and laughed at me - not a patronizing laugh, but a genuine 'you're-taking-picture-of-my-abacus/calculator' laugh.

Just some restaurant showing off their puffer-fish.
Expensive stuff...The chef cuts this wrong, someone dies.

After lunch, we head to Sensoji.
(This is right outside.)

Lots of people. Fortunately, we can see right over them all.
This is Sensoji, a temple a little north of where we've been most of the day.

I said these were rare, but there are a few of these pagodas around...

The temple ceiling.

Cool paper lantern.

The gatehouse. Check out the large ropey things on both sides - they're ginormous sandals!

Original itinerary:
4/29/2008 - Tokyo