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.