14 September 2013

Traditional and modern Japan

Still a little jet- lagged we slept in today before putting together our travel plan. Cuñada-chan emailed me some ideas found on japan-guide.com, since we had no idea what to do.  Of the suggested ideas we decided to go to the Asakusa Sensoji Temple in Tokyo.

We were also sent a train mapping link (world.jorudan.co.jp) to provide us with metro train directions on how to get there.  This was important because according to my sister-in-law the trains take different routes at different times during the day.  Although the metro system is very efficient we have had a hard time figuring out how it really works.  It seems like a system of independent lines which must be paid for separately.  Some routes require you to pay as you enter and as you leave, charging you a flat entrance fee on that subway line then an exit fee that charges according to the distance traveled from your original start point.  This is very different from what we have experienced with US, German, and French transit systems.  The previous day our in-laws got us 3 pre paid transit cards that can be used for all the train lines.  With a simple tap on the turnstiles pad, when entering and exiting, it deducts the correct fee.  Once the card is empty you can recharge it.  The other option is to buy individual tickets each time.  From my understanding there is no unlimited ride daily, weekly, or monthly pass. 

While the AlphaPoppa and the boys finished getting dressed I walked to the neighborhood 7-11and got snacks.  Mostly aloe yogurt, sushi, and butter bread.  During that short walk I realized that the 82 degrees my weather app reported felt more like 92.  I went home an changed into lighter clothes and made sure the boys were dressed properly for the heat.

This time we were more confident in our journey.  The mapped route looked simple enough and was only a 32 minute ride.  Even though we got a "little" lost I think we did pretty well.  Shoot, we made it there! To me that's a success!  On the ride however, I had the opportunity to people watch.  Here are some things that are the same in Japan and the US:  people sleep on the train here.  I mean mouth wide open, knocked out... Just like in NY and and Atlanta.  People are on their phone, from what my nosy-butt can tell mostly FB and other social media.  People are also reading or listening to music. Some things are just the same no matter where you are.  The only thing that really stood out to me were the obvious times when old and new Japan were right there together.  I even had to take a sneaky picture.  To the right an older woman dressed in geisha traditional clothes and to her left a young girl in platform shoes, mini-skirt, and big Hollywood sun glasses. It was like an Ah-ha moment for me and seemed to really represent Japan.  The most modern and the most traditional side by side making it such a great place.  deeply rooted in tradition, never forgetting its proud roots, but still able to move forward and reinventing itself.  I just love it!

The Sensoji temple was super cool.  We spent about 2 hours there.  There was a touristy market in front of it filled with locals and foreigners.  Dude found a toy bullet train that he went crazy for and AlphaPoppa was suckered into buying it.  Since  we are raising these two little guys to be international men we always charge them with responsibility.  AlphaPoppa gave Dude the train and 1000 yen it cost and told him to buy it from the store owner.  Dude walked up to the lady who was just a few inches taller than him and gave her the money.  He then took the bag with his new toy.  He also bowed slightly and said "arigato".  What?! How did he learn that I swear we didn't teach him.  This is why you have to travel with your kids, it's the little things.  

After many photo shoots and strolling around Dude and I needed a bathroom break.  I was totally not prepared for the Japanese public restroom experience.  When we walked in it was immaculate.  The cleanest bathroom I'd ever seen.  Each stall had a circular door that enclosed the toilet.  But the toilet... The toilet was not the one like in my in-laws modern apartment building, it was a little squat tub looking thing. But even had a motion flush sensor.  I knew most of Asia had what I call squat toilets but I just never associated them with Japan, why? Who knows?!  Dude looked so confused.  "What's that?!"

I showed him how to use it then if was my turn.  There was no holding it in just because I was familiar with this toilet.  All I can say is that this toilet is not meant for inflexible people. Perhaps the obese and those who wear right skinny jeans should also avoid it.  Ha!  Now I'm like all excited to se and photograph as many squat toilets as I can find.  It even want to busy into the men's room to see what's going on in there.  
We headed back home and this time we  didn't even get a "little" lost.  Dude also seems to understand the Japanese train announcements "mommy he said Yokohama station is next.  That is our stop!" And surely Yokohama was the next station.  These little people are truly sponges.

We stopped for lunch at a soup noodle shop then headed home.  Zane cleaned the bowl and dude almost finished it all.  As soon as we got home I laid down for a nap.  I wanted to be well rested for my dinner date with Cuñada chan and her sister Yuko.  And boy did we have a blast .  We let the house at about 8pm and met up with Yuko at a new tradition/ trendy restaurant.  We ate a lot, drank a lot, and had a good ole time dispute a language barrier between Yuko and I.  After dinner we headed to the nightclubs near the Navy base.  All the tap music from home was blasting, the Navy was in full effect and it was a great party night.   Once the crowd started leave we bar hopped, Cuñada chan has a great singe voice so she sang some karaoke, and we dance in empty clubs.  We all had too much to drink which seems to translate into a great night!  

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