Friday, September 26, 2008

Yanaka Cemetery

Yanaka is one of the few sections of Tokyo that survived both the 1923 Kanto Earthquake and the fire-bombing of WWII.

Yanaka Cemetery has about 7,000 graves, including that of the last Tokugawa Shogun. It was surprisingly quiet and peaceful in the midst of the city. They say that the cherry blossoms are absolutely amazing in the spring.

The cats were cool. (There were two, actually, that I saw. This one let me pet it.) Many famous people are buried here, including Soseki Natsume (1867-1916) who wrote a famous Japanese novel "I am a Cat." Natsume's picture was on the 1,000 yen note (equivalent to a $10) until a few years ago.

This area was beautiful and I'll go back again with the "good" camera.

Spent most of the day shopping. Had lots of fun with Rachele in the textile district. Sumo tomorrow!


How strange the difference of one "T" - the difference between the "here" of being here and the "there" of the last however-many years I've been planning this.

Flights were easy and uneventful - even the proximity of two infants on the long-haul flight wasn't too bad. Still can't sleep sitting up on planes, though. My first international moment wasn't associated with Japan at all. The older couple sitting next to me were from India, and when they sat down I gave them a palms-pressed "Namaste" which they responded to with broad smiles. (Thank you, yoga class!) They were traveling on to Singapore and then to India, so when I left the plane I wished them a safe journey and the woman did that upper-arm rub thing on me that Mom does when she knows I can take care of myself but wishes me well anyway. ;)

Singpore airlines is awesome, by the way. Hot towels in ecomony class! Woo-hoo! Seriously, though, it was very pleasant. The only frustrating thing was that when they were going around handing out forms, they only gave them to the Japanese people. Turns out I needed to fill out a couple forms, too. You know how I am, right? Everything filled out and organized in advance? Well, to wait in a long snakey line and be told I didn't have a form I needed - darn you Singapore Air. And then it happened again. Oh, well - my name and address are pretty easy to remember, even without any sleep for 40+ hours.

Everyone at the hotel speaks English or a close enough proximity that I can just nod because I know what they want to say. No tipping rocks. Here's my room:

Yes, this is a Crowne Plaza economy single room. It's perfect, really - the bed is big, the room is cheap. The bathroom is really cool, though. I'll show that to you another day. The view? Not even thrilling enough to show you - plus the picture is blurry because I was pretty tired last night. I had room service, watched television without subtitles, and went to bed. Here was dinner:

"Onigiri"are rice balls with something savory inside, wrapped in a sheet of dry seaweed. Sooooo incredibly good. One had "umeboshi" which is a small, sour pickled plum. The other two had something different and I wish I knew what it was. Dana - the miso soup was amazing! And that's what they call a "small" beer. I think I'm gonna like it here.

Meg - the first thing I got out of a Japanese vending machine was a Pocari Sweat - just for you! Tastes the same as at home. Would have taken a picture but the cameras were locked in the suitcase and the bus was coming any moment.

Fangirls - the Japanese language magazine on the plane had Yamapi's Toshiba ad, but the anime-looking one that I'm not a fan of. No other Johnnys sightings, yet.

Knitting girls - heading to Tokyu Hands today to look at yarn and fabrics. I did bring knitting with me (Rachel - that Malabrigo lace-weight that I'm doing the long garter scarf with) but don't know when I'll touch it. It just felt weird to travel without a project, even though I hardly do it anymore. Laceweight doesn't weigh much, fortunately.

Parents - my suitcase weighed 58 pounds so I had to split it. If you consider that the outer case probably weighed 5 pounds and L's gummy bears weighed two pounds, I was really only one pound over. ;)