Sunday, November 11, 2007

Japan travels continued...

Before I start sounding like a tourist guide , take a look at this (below). It's a rooftop wedding chapel, and we took this shot from our hotel window. There are angels with trumpets, pink flamingos and all manner of fancy lights. Don't you love it?

Japan is a true mixture of the old and the new... and this was no more apparent than when we went into Tokyo and saw the Imperial Palace.

But unlike Buckingham Palace, you can’t see all the buildings, because they're cut off by a moat and a high stone wall.

The best view of the palace is from the Nijubashi bridge. The palace was almost completely destroyed in 1945 and was rebuilt in the 1960s.

The palace gate (below) has quite a romantic name that I've forgotten, but I know someone famous was murdered there by samurai in 1860. (Isn't that helpful? No wonder I don't write historical fiction.)

Here you can see modern Tokyo, just beyond the Imperial parkland. Everywhere in Japan, trees are carefully groomed and manicured and encouraged into artistic shapes. It took a little getting used to, but after I was there a few days, I began to appreciate the Japanese mindset and these "neatened" trees began to feel fitting and right.

After we'd visited this district, we hopped on a subway for the Ginza district, which is very uptown shopping. Actually, when I stepped out of the subway, it was like arriving on Fifth Avenue in New York.

The Japanese women are incredibly inventive dressers. Because they're so tiny, they are great with layers -- lots of frills where you don't expect them, dresses over jeans, lots of fancy leg wear and gorgeous boots, all sorts of clever scarves.

Now, let me to tell you about the toilets!! They are the most fantastic toilets in the world, I swear. To start with, the seats are warmed and extra comfortable. If you're in a public place, they will most likely have a button at the side with musical notes. You should press this, because it produces a pseudo flushing sound which camouflages more natural but embarrassing bodily functions. And then, when you are done, you can press a button to wash your bottom. Amazingly, it can hit exactly the right spot every time. Or there's yet another button if you'd prefer a bidet function.

Of course, you can be unlucky and occasionally encounter an equally clean toilet that is set in the floor for squatting over. I was really worried that once I was down, I would never get up again, but if you look carefully, there's usually a "western" toilet close by. No photos of these. :)

More tomorrow...


Phillipa said...

Welcome back, Barbara. Glad I dropped by to see your photos. What an amazing journey. All that culture, history - and the loos! Japan is a place that seems incredibly distant from the UK in every way. I feel that I could happily fit into Australia but Japan would be take some getting used to. I hope to get to visit both one day. Thanks for ther pics.

Barb said...

I do hope you visit Australia, at least. Promise, you'll feel very at home here.

Bronwyn Jameson said...

I'm really enjoying your glimpses of Japan, Barb. Only in Japan could they have toilets that clean and discrete...and then they also use book covers. Also discrete. Love the wedding chapel, too. How pretty.