Thursday, November 15, 2007
Last glimpse of Japan...
Our last, but possibly most fascinating trip into Tokyo began at Omatesando. This is a major fashion shopping avenue lined with huge cherry trees and filled with mega trendy shoppers and, because it combines Prada and Gucci with an avenue, it has a very Parisian feel.
We had lunch in a side street in a Spanish restaurant, of all things. The food was fabulous. I haven't said a lot about the food in Japan but we had some amazing eating experiences, including a Korean inspired meal where you cook your own meat and fish over a small grill set in the middle of the table. There are, of course, all sorts of accompanying side dishes and dipping sauces. It reminded me a bit of the fondue parties we used to have back in the 70s.
This (above) was part of one of those meals. I'm afraid I couldn't manage the partly coddled quail's egg in a nest of raw meat -- but only because I'd already eaten so much -- of course!!
From Omatesando, we walked on to Harajuku, which is a big intersection just outside the park that houses an important Meiji temple. And here, on Sunday afternoons, lots of 'alternative' (??) young people hang out, dressed in all kinds of costumes -- mostly Gothic. But dressing as a blood splattered accident victim or paramedic is also popular.
From here, we went through huge shrine gates, similar to those at Nikko, into the Meiji park -- a beautiful, quiet forested area that eventually leads to the temple.
The First emperor of the Meiji restoration led the modernization of Japan. He sent Japanese all over the world, wanting to learn as much as he could about the west, planning to adopt what was good from other countries and reject what wasn't acceptable. As an example to his subjects, he cut off his traditional pigtail. I think modern Japan is still a fascinating blend of the old and the very, very new! (You should see the neat MP3 player I bought at Akaharbara!)
At the Meiji temple, I was fascinated by all the little girls we saw in traditional dress and then Andrew suddenly remembered that there are certain days in the year when girls aged 3, 5 and 7 are brought to the temple for a special blessing because it was traditionally significant to reach these ages -- to survive infancy. And we'd happened to come on one of these days. So I begged Elliot to snap some of the families posing for shots. I find them fascinating. (P.S. The little boys get a National Holiday for their special day!)