21 January 2009

japan, day four

fourth day started with a trip to the asakusa temple, one of the largest, oldest, and best temples in tokyo --- one of the few to escape our bombs not seventy years ago.  it was a bright, beautiful morning.  many locals were paying their respects.  the smoke in the foreground is incense.  

many locals were about, paying their respects --- simply kneeling in front of the Buddha, tossing coins into a trough, and perhaps lighting a candle.  no pictures allowed inside the temple, naturally: imagine a ten-foot sculpture of a Buddha, surrounded by other lesser statues, other gold items, and fruits.

nearby, the pagoda.  though it's been rebuilt a few times, this building has essentially been there, in this form, since the 1500s.  can't even imagine the craftsmanship and engineering needed to make it happen.

not one single nail, bolt, screw, or otherwise.

next, i returned to the kitchenware/plate district to do some souvenir shopping.  though at first i  hoped to buy some 70's Japan silverware, i ended up with a few bowls, a few cups.  above, a picture of a delivery truck in the neighborhood.  even the trucks are pristine in tokyo.

at long last.  future toilet technology.  heated seat (great idea), push button flush (adequate idea), and bidet function (strange idea).  another toilet i saw later would play a flushing noise to cover up... other noises.  it also had an aroma dispenser.  

there is nothing those japanese won't try to perfect.

after i dropped my purchases off at the hostel, we spent a little time walking around ginza, which is recognized as yet another best place to shop in japan.  i think that makes three that i've mentioned.  maybe it's an eastern thing.  shopping in tokyo wasn't so monolithic a past time as in hong kong, but it was certainly far more important than in, say, chicago, or even new york.

lots of cool architecture and all the major luxury brands that you would expect.  there's no escape.

as the sun set, ryan and i hopped on a train to visit a japanese autozone.  because we could.  ten days was a long trip.  check out this rail car --- no rivets, no panels, just solid sheet metal.  quality.

visiting near the winter solstice was a real blessing.  good lighting.

it was cool to get outside the downtown area, just to see the highway, or get the vibe of the industrial sector.  the japanese autozone was a little underwhelming --- it was essentially the same, with aftermarket car stuff that was a little bit nicer.  

back to ginza after nightfall for a long-ass walk and dinner --- once again, beef and rice bowl.

i discovered a boutique nissan showroom at the biggest, busiest corner of ginza.  inside were two new fairlady z's, a car that hasn't yet been released in america.  nissan was really putting on a show, nights, turntables, fancy brochures and 2001: A Space Odyssey decor.  

that night, our hostel finally became moderately social.  the previous nights, sakura had been all business --- quite literally, two guests in our room left at nine in the morning in suits and ties to interview for jobs.  first, we met a french graffiti artist living in japan to research and earn a little money dj'ing.  then, a pair of frenchies, one, tall and quiet, the other, short and loud.  we had a fun, loud evening with them, repeatedly hassled by the hostel staff to keep it down.

our next morning started a little slow.

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