Friday, June 11, 2010

I'm turning Japanese, I'm turning Japanese, I really think so - Tokyo

We'd like to welcome Sara Collins (often referred to as Lizzy in order to avoid confusion between the Saras). She is joining us for our time in Japan and will be a guest blogger in future posts.

Tokyo is a dream come true - it is the land of neon signs, karaoke clubs, arcades, animation, funky clothing, and millions and millions of men in business suits. It's definitely the best place in the world to people watch. Just when you think you have seen it all, someone turns the corner and BAM you are mesmerized again.

We stayed in Shinjuku - a sprawling civic, commercial, and entertainment center. We fell in love with the Takashimaya department store's food court. Every food court in the world should be patterned after this one. There are rows and rows of fancy desserts, pastries, hot and cold Japanese food, and juice bars. No where will you find a Mickey D's or Panda Express. There is also an amazing grocery store section where the produce looks so fresh and colorful. This grocery store is a little pricey and is not for the average joe. Some musk mellons (cantaloupe) sell for $150 and up.

We spent time exploring some of the famous Tokyo neighborhoods. We strolled the streets of Ginza - Tokyo's Fifth Avenue. The shopping never ends in Japan. Everywhere you look there is another designer store waiting to rob you of your life savings. We went to Harajuku hoping to spot some Harajuku girls (teenage girls who dress up in goth makeup, punk kimonos, or other crazy clothes). We spotted a couple of girls and they definitely did not disappoint. Their outfits, hair, and makeup were amazing. We ended the day by going to Shibuya. There is a famous intersection there that sees hundreds of people come and go every traffic light. It's quite a rush to be in the middle of the madness.

The iris gardens at the Meiji-Jingu shrine were refreshing after pounding the pavement the day before. The Koi ponds were beautiful too. We loved exploring and learning about the rituals performed at the shrine. We were particularly fascinated by the cleansing rituals. There is a trough of water and you take a ladle of water and pour water over each hand and then you rinse your mouth out by sipping water out of your hand and spitting the water on the ground.

Our final stop in Tokyo was the Tsukiji Fish Market - the largest seafood market in the world. The action begins daily at 4am with the fish auction....but we didn't get there until 1:30pm. There wasn't a lot going on by the time we got there. It was a little creepy wandering through the deserted buildings. We saw a few people cleaning up their work stations and we watched a man cutting up a fish. We were impressed how clean everything was. We ended our tour by eating the freshest sushi we will probably ever have. This was Sara's first time eating sushi. She swore she would never eat it and held her ground while living in NYC but the pressure in Japan was just too much to handle. She ate it, she survived, and she actually liked it.

PS - The streets of Tokyo are spotless even though it's impossible to find a garbage can. We can't quite figure out how they do it with the millions of people that live here. New York needs to learn from the Japanese how to keep a city clean.


  1. Great pictures. Wonderful adventure. I would love to see Japan but I don't know how to get there since I don't use airplanes or ships. Someday when I can just "twinkle" myself there.


  2. I am now going to teach Dad how to post a comment because I am so technologically advanced. He will now type in his comments:

    Here's a laugh for you. He said, "What am I supposed to say?" Now doesn't that sound just like a Sparhawk!!!!!!! (Our immediate family excluded!)

    OK. Now that Mom has had her laugh, I will write something. My initial reaction is Tokyo looks like what New York could be if people just cleaned it up. But then again, New York would lose some of it's charm.

    I am most interested in purchasing one of those melons. Do you know where I could buy one? Perhaps you could bring one home as a present?

    Love, Dad

  3. Sara Spar, I love your face expressions with the sushi, you look cute all fancied up for Japan! :)

  4. Love the pictures- Tokyo looks amazing!!! I will definitely have to make it there one day.

    Miss you guys!!

  5. Pictures are amazing! They keep getting better and better. So cool!