14 April 2008

Back to Japan

No, I am not going back to Japan in the ear future, but I have managed to post some more photos.

The day after the trip up to Asakusa and the boat cruise, I took a quick tour of Yokohama's Chinatown. This is Japan's largest Chinatown and was an easy morning subway ride down a few stops to the entrance to the neighborhood. It has the Chinese gates you would expect in a Chinatown and I went to two shrines or temples (not sure what you call them... places of prayer?). The Chinese shrines are much more ornate & colorful than those I have seen so far in Japan, but all seem to be so lacking in actual spiritual presence ... at least to me.

Chinatown also had it fair share of Chinese restaurants. It seemed as if every store was a restaurant of some kind as there were very few stores selling anything else. My wallet was thankful at the dearth of souvenir stores, but I really was hoping to browse some unique Chinese craft or clothing stores instead of endless food stalls and Chinese restaurants. I was changing hotels this day, so I didn't hang around long before heading back to my hotel, packing up, and catching a taxi up to downtown Tokyo.

My new hotel, the fabulous Imperial Hotel, has a great location in downtown Tokyo right between the Imperial Palace and the Ginza district. Ginza is like the 5th Ave of NYC with high end shopping and great places to eat. I spent one night walking through the main Ginza area shooting some night-time street shots. Lots of neon and even at 10pm lots of activity and bustling of folks to a fro.

The one bad part about my change of hotels is that now, instead of taking a free taxi to work and back, I now had to navigate the Tokyo rail and subway system to work each day. Not easy when everything is in a foreign language. I managed to make it to work without a problem, but long walks in high heel shoes is not fun! I did come to love the area between my final rail stop and my hotel. There is this alley along the side of the rail road tracks where all these great yakitori (think chicken skewers) places were built-in underneath the elevated railroad tracks. It made for a great atmosphere and for me, the real side of Tokyo beyond all the glitz and money of the main Ginza distrcit. Here you could get a cold beer and a few skewers of yakitori for $7-8 dollars. Very reasonable and very yummy!

Up next.... Sakura. That's Cherry Blossoms in Japanese. They were in full bloom my final weekend in Japan.

Photos from Chinatown and Ginza are at my smugmug site.

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