First, we had to sign this:
(thank goodness I also forgot my sword, along with my glasses).
Then we settled into our 14 hour flight. When we arrived in Tokyo, we headed to our hotel to find two of the other people on our trip were already there. (this trip included people coming from Colorado, DC, and Italy. Each time we came back to the lobby, we'd ask again if any more people had shown up for us and typically they had. We did this for two days. I'm sure the front desk was convinced we'd taken a flying clown car into their country.)
About that time, we realized we were staying in the Red Light district of Tokyo. Our guide book also noted it was where the "mafia" was. Hooray!
We wandered around the streets aimlessly, seeing a random Sumo Wrestler eating dinner here, a geisha walking out of a building there, and the males in our group were asked several times if they'd like some women. Things were looking very promising and we hadn't even left our immediate area yet!
In fact, all of Tokyo could best be described (as Rebecca noted) as a carnival. They play merry-go-round music before all the trains leave their stations, the whole place smells like funnel cake (glazed nut stands), and so many of the people are dressed like cartoons. I walked around in awe pretty much the entire time and when my friend Adrian got on the train for the first time and heard the music, he looked around, wide-eyed, and exclaimed -"It's a celebration!!"
Indeed it was.
We spent our first day visiting Tsukiji fish market, eating fresh sushi, visiting Shibuya (which I could not stop myself from referring to as "shi BOO YEEEAH!" ...repeatedly...yes I am ashamed...) and visiting Harajuku. (Fine, Gwen Stefani did play on repeat in my brain the whole time we were there. It was B-A-N-A-N-A-S.)
We were all over the southern part of Tokyo, and all over the railways. Which look like this:
|(Photo by Adrian, as I was so busy trying to figure out the subway system, that I didn't think of taking pictures of it)|
Simple enough, right? (thank goodness we had people on the trip with orienteering skills, or I'd still be standing in front of that map, blinking...crying....)
It was in Shi BOO YEeeeeaAAH where we found me an eye doctor and I bought a cheap (ish) pair of glasses and where we saw one of the busiest intersections I've ever seen in my life.
We then headed for the famed Harajuku.
Kids in Harajuku look just like I imagined.
Next, we toured one of the many Shrines/Temples in Japan:
We ended the day by eating at a nice Thai restaurant, where Rebecca started practicing her Japanese by telling me the word for "water." For which, I received this:
To which Rebecca immediately yelped "I'm sorry! Must not be the word for water!" But it actually was and apparently they just like to add a tiny bit of Thai tea to the water there. But I was not a fan and this was just the first of many "what the heck did I just drink?!" moments we had. There will be more to come.