Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Tokyo - After Story 2

Continued from Tokyo - After Story. [ read first ]

Eventually, the three of us made it to our hotel in Ginza*, central Tokyo: the Palace Hotel. It is situated right by the Imperial Palace and within walking distance of downtown Ginza and Otemachi station -- a station that connects with quite a few others (four different lines).

We went into Ginza to explore for a bit and had ramen for dinner. We wandered around a bit more after eating. The festive lights make the place look pretty amazing.

That's another thing people may not know about Japan. They have embraced the festivity of Christmas. Kids love getting gifts and everyone loves Christmas trees, Santa hats and lit-up Christmas displays. It's not overlooked in the sense that it is a festival and everyone gets into it, but there are differences. Telling the Christmas story is important for people to understand why we celebrate it, and that there is more to it than pretty lights and a festive air.

On Sunday morning, I met up with a friend of mine whom I had never met. We have known each other for around nine years, having met on the Internet. He is now based in Yokohama (US Navy boy), and we had both wanted to come to Japan for a long time.

We spent the day going to different places via the subway and just chilling out in Tokyo. After some time in Shibuya, where I bought some new earphones for my MP3 player, we went to Kaminacho station and walked to the Tokyo Tower. Its 50th Anniversary is this year, and there was a giant "50" on each of two sides of the tower, about halfway up -- the other two sides each displayed a large, multi-coloured "Tokyo".

Wow. Tokyo Tower is pretty amazing at night. I'll try and get some edited pictures from Zach when he has had the time to sort through all of his snapping from that day. Seeing the city from the observation deck was also pretty amazing.

After checking out the city from atop the monstrous, Eiffel-like structure, we headed to Roppongi for dinner at an American spare ribs restaurant. Roppongi is known for both its overwhelming gaijin (foreigner) presence and its seedy underbelly. At least, that's how I see all of the immorality awash in both that area and nearby Shibuya. Night clubs and entertainment of various forms beckon many a military man (and, no doubt, woman).

And that was Saturday. Zach and I parted ways at Tokyo central station -- or maybe it was the next one up. Either way, I got back to the hotel without any hassle -- despite my lack of directional and navigational skills.

Go to Part Three


* Historical note: 'Ginza' means 'silver mint', as that was the central economic function in this area of Tokyo until the 17th Century, when a devastating fire forced the surrounding area to be rebuilt.

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