Home again, home again, jiggety jig.....
I brought back rice crackers, bath bubbles, candies, and a cold. Sure enough, as Tim said, i became the world's incubator. I'm starting to get better, and i realized that i owe you folks a final recap on the Tokyo jaunt.
I wrote a little bit about the food over at Gastronome - pop on over for the food review.
We arrived Monday evening, and took the not-so-swanky JR-greenline in from Narita. Looking out at small rice paddies, village-y houses with blue tile roofs and lovely architecture, which gave way to Chiba City and then Tokyo itself as we rode into the more urban areas was a fantastic introduction. Upon arrival at Shinjuku station, i quickly learned that all of my crowd memes are wrong - stand to the left of the escalator if you don't want to walk, walk on the left side of the street - so odd! I also started immediately observing the amazing array of uniforms, everywhere. We went to the hotel, which was very posh, with folks lining up to help you. I was gratefeul for the level of English spoken at the hotel, especially when i found i was in the wrong sort of room (smoking, ew, and no high-speed net connection). Later that evening, Hideyuki said that when he came back from English-school in the States, he took a job as a bellhop at the Century Hyatt to practice his English. Cool.
We rested and changed out of our plane-clothes, and met Hideyuki for our first meal. He ordered for us - Sapporo - bieru- draftu. I could have done that. ;) Afterwards, a little after 10PM local time, we were all too tired to go out and really do anything. I tried to take a walk, but mainly looked around the Metropolitan buildings next door, and then collapsed into my bed.
With a 10:30PM bedtime, i find that i get up quite early! I woke up around 5AM, did some work and drank some tea, and went out for a stroll around Shinjuku park, which was behind the hotel and the Metropolitan buildings. The foliage was lush, and gorgeous. The leaves are just starting to turn, so i saw a lovely mix of browns, oranges, and greens. There is a lage contingent of homeless in the park - they have little villages that are incredibly neat & organized. I visited the shrine and wee temple in the park - but didn't take any pictures as there were some people giving their morning worship.
After walking through the park, i meandered through the Metropolitan buildings, and admired the architecture and sculpture. I walked down a few blocks, and then back to the hotel to meet Tim and Frank for breakfast. We ate, and then embarked on a group walk around Shinjuku and through a bit of Shibuya. The buildings, lights, decorations, and endless video screens are mindblowing - i felt as though i was in the middle of Bladerunner. We went into Tokyu Hands and procured some postcards and a few cell phone fobs (the selection was HUGE - the strangest things mocked up as fobs). We went into a large department store, and descended to the bottom floor - the food market. This is like the Dean and Deluca of Japanese grocery shopping - gorgeous mushrooms, huge piles of fish, barrels upon barrels of miso, thinly sliced beef, 15$ canteloupes & pomegranites, and beautifully wrapped pastries and rice crackers. And that's not even a beginning of what we saw. ;)
We had to scoot back to the hotel to head out to Apple Japan for our 11am meeting - we were lost enough and time-constrained that we hopped in a cab.
Apple Japan is pretty cool - it's on the 51st floor of the Tokyo Opera Plaza. Some view, i tell you. And an original Andy Warhol in the lobby! We spent the rest of the day (until 7:30PM, oog!) in business meetings, went to dinner with the same folks, and returned to our hotel at 11:30. I really, really, really wanted to check out the sake bar Kaz had found for me, but i couldn't muster the energy to step outside my door. After falling asleep in the lovely deep tub, i decided i had best go to bed.
Wednesday (#1) morning we got up, packed, had brekky, and headed to our meetings. We had just enough time after the meetings to pick up our bags from the bell captian's station, get to Shinjuku station and pick up some bento boxes, and take the Narita Express back to the airport. And then after a wee bit of shopping in the duty free, we were on our way home! So fast!
I'll post a proper photo-log later this weekend with all the pics, and higher-resolution views.