Japan - Ni

Posted August 22, 2007

When: August 23rd, 2:45 PM (Japan Time) Where: Shinigawa Train Station

When it's this hot, and this humid, people say "holy crap" when they see the sweat jetting out of my pores. It's hot in Tokyo. And humid. If it weren't so damn awesome here, I'd be completely miserable.

Yesterday afternoon was spent stumbling around in a jet lagged daze, hopping from traffic jam to traffic jam on our airport shuttle bus. We arrived at our little hotel, a family run place down a Shibuya alley, and collapsed in front of the air conditioner in our room, only venturing out to consume a slightly expensive dinner down the street at the train station.

The Japanese-style inns are wonderful. It's everything you need to get a pleasant night's sleep and prepare for the next day ... but nothing more, and nothing less. Futons on tatami mats, a small bathroom, and a closet sized entry way with a small table set for tea.

We've spent most of the day getting our rail passes and time tables figured out, then spent a couple of hours in Harajuku, at the Meiji Temple, and a "western themed" pizza joint called Shakey's. If you're hip to shrimp, egg, and corn on your pizza, you'll feel right at home.

The temple has definitely been the highlight of the trip. It's in the middle of acres of of carefully maintained forests, ponds, and gardens. Wide gravel walkways wind through the forest to the temple, which was straight out of my fantasies about what such a grand structure would look like (albeit with more tourists). The curving roof lines, the thick wood construction, the granite blocks, the gardens and screens -- all fit together perfectly, gracefully blending into the forest around it.

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