I have not posted very much lately because I have been quite busy. We have been working hard in the office, as well as at home. Guests keep coming in and out, and my hostess gave me a few days off for some sight-seeing. I thought that it would be fun to say a few things about the places I've been to now.
Edo-Tokyo Open-air Architectural Museum, Koganei Park
It is a bit hard to describe this museum that lies in the middle of a large park. Basically, it is many real, full-sized houses preserved and maintained throughout decades of Japanese history. There were houses a hundred years old, or fifty years old. It was a very good history lesson to walk through those houses with much of the original decor and utilities. There were some houses that had belonged to rich men, and a few more middle-classed. My favorite houses to explore were probably the farm houses, though they were the most simple. The thatched roofs were absolutely incredible! In one of these houses, we were invite to sit upon the floor and drink Sakura Tea.
The whole day was a great experience, and I really enjoyed the whole thing. If you are every in Tokyo, you should go there.
When people hear the word Tokyo, what they picture will probably look much more like Ikebukuro than where I am staying in the much slower area of Higashi-Kurume. Ikebukuro is a commercial and entertainment district of Tokyo. It is large, and filled with towering buildings and flashy advertisements. There is more shopping than one human alone could desire, and more restaurants than I thought it possible to cram into just one block. It was a lot of fun to go through the stores and see what they were selling--some of it was very normal, American-type merchandise, and some of it was very much Japanese. Although my feet were very unhappy by the end of the trip, I was quite glad I got to go.
"Harajuku is the common name for the area around Harajuku Station on the Yamanote Line in the Shibuya ward of Tokyo, Japan." - Wikipedia
The area is similar to Ikebukuro in that it is filled with shops, cafes and teeming crowds of people. But the style here is different, and quite distinct. Teenagers dressed in all sorts of styles and fashions like to gather on a particular bridge to hang out, and you see plenty of colourful characters up and down the streets. Connected to Harajuku is Meji Shrine, and Yoyogi park. While I enjoyed the craziness of Harajuku, and fighting the thick, massive crowds was fun, I thought that Yoyogi park was my favorite. It is a place where families and friends go to hang out and do things that they enjoy doing on their one day off of the week. The park has trees, grass and gardens with fountains and benches. People get together to practice a shared skill among them, or to play games and instruments. It was very fun to see so much creativity of so many varying kinds. Though I am not sure what the Elvis/old-timey greaser impersonators were doing there besides having fun.
Ghibli Museum, Mitaka
Mitaka is another fairly large, popular section of Tokyo. But we went mostly for the sake of going to the famous Ghibli museum. The museum itself is bordered by a very nice park that is yet another wonderful place to go if you want trees, grass and open air. We had a very enjoyable time wandering across the pathways in the shade. The museum was set up like a very large house creatively and beautifully built. There was stained glass with scenes from Ghibli movies, and rooms that mimicked what rooms in the film studio might look like. It was a very neat place, and it was so much fun to explore. My favorite spot was the garden on top of the roof, with a life-sized replica of a robot from one of the movies. Although the gift shop was over-priced, it was fun to browse through it. If you like Ghibli movies and Miyazaki, it is a worthwhile visit to make while in Tokyo.
There you have it! Those are the main, big places I've been to. Each place was unique and fun, and I wish I had more time here to explore more of them. I will hopefully be posting more pictures soon, so look forward to seeing them on Facebook. Now that my friend Anna (who got to go with me to the last two places) is gone, our work at the office will resume full blast. I enjoyed all the sights and sounds of Tokyo, but I also look forward to settling back into the usual schedule.
Sorry about those sloppy links. Not sure how to make them look nicer)