Revisiting Ueno, Akihabara, and visiting Ryogoku
Trip Start Jun 09, 2009
17Trip End Jul 05, 2009
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We've been getting up later then we had been lately, now we awaken around the time one would expect without an alarm clock (around 9-10am). This means we have to hurry and get out because so many places close around 5pm here. On June 30th we woke up and after taking showers and getting ready we head downstairs and had some crepes for breakfast (I believe Kat already explained how crepes are different here so I won't belabor the point). We both got chocolate and banana crepes (once again Kat mentioned how everything appears to be banana flavored) with vanilla gelato on top (yes, we know we are not eating healthy)
After taking the JR to Ueno we took a bit to get oriented. One french man really wanted to help us accomplish this despite us not really needing his help, he was a well meaning man and I wish him good fortune in all of his endeavors. We head off towards a few points of interest including a shrine, a few interesting statues and the park in general. The area we were heading had a little stray kitten in it, which made Kat sad. The reason it made her sad is because in Japan they don't see the need to neuter or spay their pets (Bob Barker would be furious) resulting in thousands of strays wandering the steets, especially cats. As you may have noticed there have been many cats throughout our pictures, its because there are just so many. The government handles this problem by putting the strays to sleep on a massive scale.
We saw the statue of Takamori Saigo, a Samurai. Next we visited the Temple of Kannon Hall. This temple is made in honor of Senju Kannon who is the "thousand armed godess of mercy." People come here and pray for fertility in having children. When their prayers are "answered" they leave a doll, on September 25th of every year these dolls are burned in celebration. We were looking for the Shitamachi Museum in that area, but by the time we finally navigated the area well enough and saw everything outside it was 4pm and the museum closed at 4:30
The next day we went to Ryogoku, which is the big district for Sumo wrestling in Japan. We were hoping some of the Sumos would be in town, but didn't nessecarily expect them (it isn't Sumo season, so there are no tournaments in town right now). There were no Sumos, that was okay though as the reason we went there was to see the Edo-Tokyo Museum. We had read it was big, but nothing could prepare us for the vastness of the complex. The museum was built right next to the station so it was incredibly easy to find. It project was finished in 1993 which coincided with the economic bubble collapse in Japan, this complex seems to be a good example of when the government thinks they have infinite money to spend. It is, in a few words, a HUGE waste of space. That's not to say that it wasn't amazing (I think it might be one of the most impressive museums I've ever seen, rivaling the Smithsonian on some levels) but how it's built is just incredibly wasteful. This is the most evident when first approaching, it has a huge open area with some ticket counters and a restaurant with tables, this, along with the escalator to the museum was the only thing there
One cool thing about the musuem was that it had free english tour guides. We opted not to get the guides, cause we're a little jokey and didn't want to offend the guide when we cracked a joke here or there. Not to mention we like to go about things at a leisurely pace and the signs were in English, so it's not like we were missing anything.
I almost forgot to mention the point of the museum I got so caught up in talking about how much it must have cost and how big it wasEdo period (which you can read about in the link if you're interested). But it also talked about Japan's quest to modernize, and the birth of Tokyo as one of the largest major metropolitan citys in the world.
Once we were in the museum it was really impressive. They had a recreation of the Nihonbashi bridge which we had tried to visit in reality, but had been ruined by a large highway above. So, we sort of got to see it anyway. One of the more interesting things in the museum was that it had many, many recreation pieces in it. These things were really cool. They recreated a part of Tokyo in a paticular period and made realistic figures doing everyday things throughout the town. They gave you binoculars at each one of these so you could see each town member, and how life was at that time.
Along with these recreations were life size replicas of households in various periods, one of which let us walk around in (we have a vid of this). Kat really liked these replicas, the historian in her was coming out in full during this trip.
In the museum, it alllowed you to get on some of the vehicles from times passedRickshaws which was a point of contention for Kat. Each rickshaw had a sign proclaiming that it the vehicle was invented in Japan and later moved to different regions. Kat proclaimed that this was not the case, and that it was an invention from Europe. We looked it up later, and supposedly the birthplace is still unknown, Japan and Europe (as well as some rather silly Americans) claim to be the first. Although, to Kat's credit, if it were not known as fact the museum shouldn't have pretended their version was fact without saying something like "it is believed the Rickshaw may have been invented in Japan, then later moved to different countries." There is also a 1700 painting of a rickshaw in use in Europe, and in our brief analysis of the subject, this seems to be the first known documented case of rickshaws.
Back to the museum, one of the tiny replicas allowed you to walk overtop of it as you stared down a glass floor. I took this opportunity to pretend I was Godzilla stomping Tokyo, but when people started staring quit rather quickly, so Kat's attempt at videoing this may seem unimpressive.
We have what seems like a million pics of the Museum, so I'm very tempted to let them just tell the rest of the tale regarding what we saw
After the museum we went to the basement area and looked around the gift shop, then got lunch at the Italian styled restaurant there. One thing that's odd is, Pizza here is not exactly like pizza. Some pizzas will be called something like "salad pizza" which takes a normal pizza and puts a whole salad on top with ranch dressing and all... Yeah, pretty gross. But, these pizzas were normal, Kat had been craving cheese desperetly and the night befores trip to 7/11 proved dissapointing as the cheese stick she got was just not up to par. We split the small pizza (4 slices) with tomato slices and basil leaves, the tomatoes we took off. I got a pasta with shrimp, and we split that as well. It was good to have some normal type food, neither of us are exactly fans of Japanese dishes, so it was nice to have some more traditional food for once.
On that note, I also had something a little more traditional from 7/11 a couple nights ago we were at 7/11 for Kat's cheese craving and I really wanted something not Japanese, and not pasta. They had a strange hotdog that was in a pita type bread, and a platter with salami, sausage, and potatos. I bought both. Kat believed this dish to be disgusting, but I beg to differ, it may be the greatest decision I've ever made
That is all for now, my hunger grows for more meat now.