Sunday, October 28, 2012

Day 8: Tokyo Tower

It was a rainy day and I got a slow start--laundry, phone calls home, and a delivery from Flying Pig.  To explain, Flying Pig delivers Costco goods to addresses in Japan.  I ordered laundry detergent and dryer sheets plus some grocery items to fill my box after a friend had a terrible experience with Japanese detergent ruining some of her clothes (maybe it was the machine, not the detergent?).  Everything I ordered was wrapped in a massive amount of cellophane:

This is pretty typical of my shopping experiences in Japan.  I picked up a bottle of Woolite from an "American Pharmacy" and this is how they wrapped it up before sending it home with me:

It keeps things tidy and clean, but just isn't very green.

Later in the day, I picked a nearby destination from my Lonely Planet city guide and headed towards the subway station.  (I am dedicated to seeing more of the city this time around!)  My pick was Tokyo Tower and, as expected, it's a total tourist trap.  Not worth visiting if you're in Tokyo for only a week or two.  The tower is modeled after the Eiffel Tower and was built in 1958.  It's painted orange and white in compliance with international aviation rules and was much more beautiful as day turned to night as it's nicely lit in the evenings.

Tokyo Tower
I had a look around the souvenir shops and found this treat:

Yum!  Octopus snack... well, at least I think that's what it is.
I plan to go back to Shiba-koen (I learned in Japanese class yesterday that koen means park) to see the Zojo Temple and will be back in the same neighborhood to register with the Minato ward office sometime next week.

On my way home, I happened upon the Reigakusha Gagaku Workshop and Concert.  Gagaku, as I understand it from the program I was given, is a form of Japanese classical music (c. 10th century), which sometimes includes dance.  A Stanford researcher has put together this informative website about gagaku.  The director of the Reigakusha group, Sukeyasu Shiba, was a musician at the Music Department of the Imperial Household Agency for 27 years and selected by the Japanese government as a "Person of Cultural Merit" in 2011, which made me feel like I was experiencing a truly authentic performance.  It was really nice to sit at the outdoor concert under a sturdy canopy, while the music and sound of the rain melded together.  Here's a picture of Reigakusha--they wore the same costumes and sat is the same arrangement at the concert:

Reigakusha (Source)
What a counterpoint to my experience at Tokyo Tower!


CP said...

When I visited Japan 10 years ago, my friend took me to the Tokyo Tower. I think we went at night and I remember that being kinda cool but otherwise I was no so impressed.

The "Depatos" (department store, right?) are so overwhelming! So many floors!

Paragon2Pieces said...

I can't get over the number of stores in our office building. The shopping situation is crazy here!