Wednesday, October 24, 2007

We Are Not the Backstreet Boys (Thank God)

Arrived back in Richmond about 5pm yesterday (10/23). Brian picked me up at the airport in Dayton and took me to Friendly's for some ice cream before we headed home. Mort very excited to see me, Violet feigned indifference. Peteena in denial, wants to know when room service is coming.

Have lots of processing to do, and pictures still to post. Will try to put some order to my thoughts about this amazing trip over the next few days (am also doing some on-line research in an attempt to verify a very short bird list). In the meantime, here are some further shots of Tokyo -- an extremely polite, orderly, beautiful city that seems to have one thing on it's mind: shopping.

Tokyo Station - a very dangerous place. If they don't run you down and leave you for dead in the train station on the ground level, you could wander until you drop dead in the endless series of connected shopping malls under ground.

Or, you could run into these guys. three self-described "drunken" men who attached themselves to me and couple of female colleagues who were looking for a currency exchange where they would take my Chinese money (which the hotel would not touch). Two of them spoke a little English. They were quite charming, but apparently had been drinking all afternoon, and their breath would just about knock you down.

The IIE fair in Tokyo was held at "Sunshine City," a huge convention center/shopping mall/hotel complex where, instead of having signs or a marquee to tell you what all is going on that day, they have actual live people (usually young, and usually female) wearing white gloves and holding up signs advertising these events. This is the view from the plaza outside where the fair was down to the street.

Live entertainment in Sunshine City. A very animated guy with a very listless money doing the kind of spiel where the monkey does everything except what the guy tells him to do, and the guy pretends to get frustrated and angry, and then the monkey placates him, etc. etc. Yeah, it was pretty depressing.

You could have a four-course meal at the crepe stand in Harajuku, because you can buy any conceivable foodstuff in a crepe (and there are pictures of all it on the front of the crepe stand).

Then, of course, there's the absolutely disgusting steaming bin of unidentifiable meats at the Seven-Eleven. Seven-Eleven is everywhere in Asia, but only in Tokyo did I see this. You grab a pair of chopsticks, pluck out the nasty tidbit that you want, put it in a cardboard cup and pay for it. Another pic that you all are very fortunate cannot be accompanied by its aroma.

Motorcycle parking in Tokyo. Each space is equipped with a lock you can rent. You plug coins in like a parking meter and lock up your bike.

The crown of photographers and other press people who were waiting for the arrival of the Backstreet Boys when we arrived at Narita airport on Oct. 20.

The rock garden next to the bus pickup at the airport.

The Palace Hotel (where we stayed) is right across the street from the Imperial Palace (hence the name). Spent a couple of hours there on the morning I left Japan, wandering the grounds. Will post on that in the next day or so, it was truly amazing.

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