Saturday, March 12, 2016

Catching Up

I didn't realize that some of my blogs were getting posted to a wrong address. I'll try to do better in the future, but I can only say that you missed some real Pulitzer-Prize-calibre stuff. Unfortunately, I'm now back into the mundane-mediocre writing style that is sort of my trademark. I also haven't had time to sketch, but I'm told our next location, Kyoto, will be good for that. By the way, have you ever noticed that Kyoto (the ancient capital) and Tokyo (the new capital, which used to be named Edo) have exactly the same letters in the name? Also, the two syllables are two words in opposite order. TO means "east." KYO means "capital." (East Capital). If you switch the order of the two words (Kyoto), it means "Capital Large City." Yeah, I don't get it either.

The view from the window next to the elevator on the 16th floor of the hotel. You can go to the observation deck of the tower (SkyTree), but you have to stand in a long "rine" for tickets, so we haven't taken the time to "rine up" yet.

Our guide, Ayano, explains how Matthew Perry brought his black sheeps (ships) to Japan and, in effect, opened up Japan to the world. The two paintings on the right are portraits of Perry, based on verbal descriptions of him. Perry's arrival caused "big problem" in Japan because the Emperor and the people were in favor of being more open, but the Shogun and Samurai class knew their power would be usurped. Ergo, wars between the Emperor and the Shogun. The bullet hole on the left is in the front wall of a temple, evidence of one of the battles that took place in Tokyo. The 15th and last Shogun died about seventy years ago.

The last Shogun's grave (and his family) is in a cemetery near here. The family crest on the gate represents Hollyhocks. Or maybe Horryhocks.

The back of Shogun warrior armor in the National Museum of Art. Nice knot work.

Robin and Ayano make detailed plans of train and subway connections in order for us to meet Lady Matsukata on the other side of Tokyo. Thanks to Ayano's great planning and Robin's subway/tube experience, we pulled it off like regular Tokyo-ites.

Lady Matsukata, Elizabeth, & Robin admire handmade belts that are specifically to wrap around an obi, the material that wraps around the waist of a kimono. These belts are passed down in families to younger generations. Or at least they can be if they are high quality like these. This is a very famous shop and has been here for 340 years, although remodeled recently. In the future, I will make sure that I buy all of my Obi belts here.

If you're lucky you might catch a sighting of a beautiful young American on the subway.

Most subway sightings look more like this.

Or like this.

Robin admires a Rodin, seconds before a panic-stricken security guard rushed up and saved the sculpture. Lady Matsukata's grandfather was friends with Rodin and was instrumental in getting this and much more art to Tokyo. His collection is in a separate wing of the National Museum of Western Art.

Getting around Tokyo is easy. Just check the map in the station

I came really close to buying an Apple Watch while in the Apple Store. Fortunately, our friend Elizabeth wanted to buy a new iPad and that distracted me. 

A Tokyo cityscape by Robin. A cold, damp, and chilly night. I assume she shot this from our hotel room window. Either that or she spent a lot of money on a Selfie-Stick Pro.