Sunday, March 13, 2011

Japan Diary #1 - Tokyo

My heart is breaking for the Japanese people and their beautiful wounded islands. Before you read further, please go to the Red Cross site and make a donation to help our brothers and sisters in Japan. Here's the link. Click on it. Go there now. I'll wait.

Randy and I traveled to Japan for our honeymoon in August, 2000, long before I started this blog. I wrote a few journals entries during the trip.

August 2, 2000
Park Hyatt Hotel, Tokyo, Japan

Randy and I are married and in Japan and both experiences astound me. "The cliches are true," I told well-wishers, "It is the happiest day of your life."

Rereading the guide book reminded me that we wanted to find our own way from Narita Airport - so simple. The cab drivers wear white gloves. The curvy, elevated highway snakes through the city like a carnival ride.

Everything feels very good and very right, although Randy surprised me last night with arguments against "Ms."

This is my favorite time in vacation - Randy sleeping and I'm refreshed and nibbling on large sweet grapes in front of the eastern window overlooking a foggy city. The city is immense -- development spreading to the horizon in all directions. This suite is luxury on every surface and cunning design in every detail. Tiny wooden square boxes reveal snacks or toiletries. Unbelievably comfortable green obi robes with slippers. A computerized toilet with heated adjustable seat and varied water flow. We're transfixed by Asian TV - loud, bright commercials that are utterly transparent and clear to understand, raucous baseball games with a giant inflatable ball for the home run, cruel game shows: eat huge bowls of food for $50.

Friday, August 4, 2000
7:05 a.m. Park Hyatt Hotel, Tokyo, Japan

Our last morning in this beautiful room on the 42nd floor. White peaches and champagne for breakfast.

Tsukiji fish market yesterday. Blood red snapper with saucer eyes, tentacle everywhere, obscene squid and mussels with long tongues sticking out, monster tuna, fresh and frozen solid. Men smoking, driving carts down tiny pathways, hauling tuna onto electric saw platforms, eating handfuls of rice and sushi, women peering out of tiny cubicles, all lit with bright tiny bulbs in the cavernous warehouse. A dizzying trip.

We ate sushi and drank Kirin for breakfast in a tiny closet of a place in the market. When we pushed our stools away from the bar, they hit the back wall.

"Good morning!" called the young fish hauler when I took his picture, exaggerated, the only English he knew, I guessed. I'm suddenly shy, say "good morning," smiling and turn away.

We walked to a beautiful Japanese garden, Hama Rikyu, with royal duck hunting ponds and a 300 year old pine, its twisty branches wrapped in straw and bands of black metal, supported by crutches.

A boat ride (I napped with my head in Randy's lap - beer does that to me) to the Asakusa neighborhood and the Senso-ji temple. Streets of vendors and fortune tellers. We washed our hands in incense for good luck.

A tiny amusement park just beyond the temple. Random oddness on stage. Jangling pachinko parlors. Met Johnny Fingers later that night in Shinjuku for Indian food.


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