Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Stay to the Left

Today was my first full day in Japan.  I spent the day in Tokyo. 

I don't know if I knew that Japan drives on the left hand side of the road, or if I just forgot.  When I arrived last night & took the bus from the airport to the hotel, I was surprised to see cars on the left.  It has been quite some time since I have been in a place where they drive on the left.  When I lived in South Africa, I learned to drive on the left.  That was a LONG time ago.  More recently in 2005 Steve and I were in Ireland, and they too stay to the left.  It was fun driving in Ireland.  It did not take me long to adjust.

I took the bus from the hotel into downtown Tokyo train station.  It was there I changed my e-ticket  to a JR ( Japan Railroad) pass.  This pass enabled me to travel through out the JR system unlimited.  In wanting to be spontaneous, I asked the lady at the information booth where I could find a record shop.  She gave me instructions to Tower Records, which is supposed to be the largest one in the world.  I took the orange line to the Shinjuku station.

Again, stay to the left while going up or down the escalators.  I learned this the hard way.  A gentlemen in a hurry tapped me on the shoulder to move over.  I was standing on the right.  It was odd getting onto the escalator and keeping left.

Tower Records is on floors four through ten.  I was impressed by the size. It seemed quite odd to hear rap music on all of the floors.  By the time I reached the10th floor I was on the left.

Walking around Tokyo was facinating.  I love to people watch.  I walked from the Tokyo train station to the Imperial Palace Gardens.  The tour busses emptyied where I was sitting and I was able to watch old and young, Japanese and non-Japanese meander up to the gate of the palace.  An elderly gentleman was working tiredlessly at sweeping tiny stones off of the path, and back onto the stoney area.  As I sat and watched him, he went up and down the path sweeping small amounts of pebbles.  It seems like a tedious job, but I could tell that this man took pride and ownership in his efforts.  The pebbles were carefully swept with what looked like a handmade broom.  He was quite graceful in his sweeping.  I watched him for a while.  It always intrigues me to see people at work.

Steve and I have a joke about Paul Revere.  I might not have seen Paul Revere, but I did see his Japanese counterpart in a beautiful bronze statue in the gardens outside of the Imerial Palace.  The statue is of a warrior on a horse.  It is called the Statue of Kusathoki Masashige.  The detailing and expressions of both the face of the horse and the warrior and amazing.  I enjoy great art, and this statue was impressive.

With the JR pass I am able to get on and off of the train.  I explored a few areas.  I do not know where I was for about 2 hours.  Luckily I was able to find the JR station & ask a kind person for help.  What I have  noticed is that everyone that I have spoken to and have asked for help has been extremely kind.  People are very receptive for a conversation and to provide directions.  One woman walked two blocks with me to make sure I got to the correct destination.  I was impressed.

Now I am back in my hotel room.  Not much to watch on TV.  Americal Idol from I think 2 or 3 years ago.  Some Japanese game shows.  There was one funny one where they were measuring mens eyebrow hairs.  I could not understand any of the conversation, but I did see them pull out a ruler and measure one old guys eyebrow hair measured 7cm.  That is pretty long.

Now I am watching doubles badmitton.  I am sitting on the edge of my chair !

Tomorrow I have a lot planned, stay tuned.


1 comment:

  1. You're watching badminton? Hmm, sounds like tennis withdrawal to me! :) Glad you're having fun - I can't wait to hear about the rest of your trip!!


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