Thank you for showing me how old and new can hold hands and create so many jaw-dropping,inspiring and peaceful moments for every tourist you welcome in.
The Jaw - Dropping
Moment #1 (of no significant ordering) - GIANT ROBOT !
The Gundam really was huuuuuuuuuuge. For a fleeting second,the child in me paused and waited for it to launch itself into a puff of white smoke.
Moment #2 (of no significant ordering) - Asakusa Market
We did a LOT of shopping in Tokyo and Sam and I aren't really known for it...This place was surprisingly where we purchased the least of our souvenirs. Mainly due to the fact that we could have happily bought EVERYTHING and left ourselves poor. Many,many atmospheric,aromatic,colourful stalls drew us in like quicksand. Lucky charms,geisha dolls,oriental fans,art prints - an endless list. Although they did repeat themselves a little,I seemed to forgive this in a 'Dory' way as I'd almost forgotten that ooooh,aaaah noise I made at first sight.
Moment #3 (of no significant ordering) - A Special Appearance
Our jaws dropped as we found ourselves joining the tidal wave of immensely vast crowds. Waiting in anticipation for the Emperor's first of two bi-annual greetings.
Now just as we are not shoppers,neither of us have much patience for long queues but... We were very impressed with Japan's organisation and 'calm crowds' - two words I never thought I'd put together. Taking our FREE Japanese flag and having our bags searched in the most polite fashion (#forgotwehadglosticksinthere-wewillrefrainfromusingthem) we sensed we were about to be privileged with a unique experience.
Meandering with the crowds,we admired the gardens and palace buildings (not usually for the public's eyes) before congregating before the royal appearance which I'm sure had a likeness to the Queen's speech - broadly speaking. Of course we couldn't understand a word but there's something universally magic about thousands of flags being waved simultaneously on a windy, January day.
The Inspiring Moments
Moment #1 (of no significant ordering) - Skyscrapers
They are ... MASSIVE!
Moment #2 (of no significant ordering)- Mori Art Museum
The exhibition we saw was called 'The Universe and Art' which suited both our interests well. While Sam took a shine to the 'Sexy Robot' (can't think why), I found the baby caterpillar very endearing and I still regret that I didn't take a selfie with it or buy a t-shirt of it.
We did however share some mutual fascination with the discovery of an original Japanese sci-fi tale featuring a miniscule moon princess - I have later discovered that people have made links between this and the Sailor Moon series character - Princess Serenity.
Moment #3 (of no significant ordering) - Spot the Gaijin
As Sam went to take the obligatory new year decoration photo in front of a hotel, I was distracted :- "Sam ....there's robots...and they're cleaning the FLOOR!" ... Okay so I know you've probably heard of and seen these on T.V. but I am easily amused.
Moment #4 (of no significant ordering) - Oji Kitsune-no-gyoretsu Fox Parade
Our very first festival in Japan. It was so exciting I don't actually think I could pin down the words and make them coherent enough. Just imagine my vocal spurts of these words...
CULTURE COMMUNITY FOXES SPIRIT FOXES
FIRES FACEPAINT HANDSOME DESU! LION DRAGON DANCE SUSPENSE DRUMS DRUMS DRUMS
MIDNIGHT START KIMONOS COLOUR
The Peaceful Moments
All of these moments can be summarised by our continued new year venture to Mount Takoa-San to see the first sunrise - the kinda thing you read about in a lonely planet guide and think some hippy must have struck lucky once...
Although surrounded by hundreds of people, the hours of wait were slow but tranquil. Even someone who doesn't write pretentious blogs like me would find it hard not to be poetic in description. It was like watching the greatest painting being created and brought to life - it quite literally blinded us with it's beauty and I only hope I can endeavour to see every new year sunrise; even if it will not be as momentous as this was.
As we took the chilly walk back down, Sam was the first to spot the sun shining through Japan's flag right in front of us... As if someone was saying 'Welcome to 'The Land of the Rising Sun'.
Yours faithfully (and sure to be back again soon),
Things I've learnt in Japan so far...
- The shinkansen's alien cleanliness is due to an impressive ARMY of brightly uniformed (blue for men pink for women) cleaners.
- The sith lords round here also use light sabers for road safety - who knew ?