55 Days in Tokyo

January 22nd, 2007

Allowed myself to sleep in a bit and woke up just before 11:30am. I think my body is making up for all the sleep I lost while I was in school. Went online and talked to my girlfriend for a while before going to the kitchen to cook my lunch. Was going to have chicken with the rest of my sauce but when I microwaved the dish the butter seperated from the cream. This has happened before but for some reason, no matter how much I mixed them, I could not get the two parts to come back together. Either there was not enough of the creme left to bond with the butter or there is something different about the butter or cream here. During my cooking I talked with the house cleaning lady. Between my poor Japanese and her broken English we can communicate pretty well. She was suprised that I wasn't a chef and that I enjoyed cooking as evidently Japanese men by and large don't like cooking unless its their job. She was also suprised to find out that San Francisco is not as cold as Tokyo and about as expensive. After I had my shower I headed out.

I decided to head down the main street that goes by my house and see where it takes me. The street turned out to be quite a little shopping road after I crossed another large street. Many stores that were selling all kinds of goods, from pastries and fruits to gifts and clothing. Even came upon this little private railway that seems to be limited to this one tiny line. Very interesting. Also discovered two temples, one that had monkey statues and another that was much larger and had lots of incense burning. There was also a long line of people waiting to take a wet cloth and wipe down a statue of a buddha. Beautiful temple as well. Walking further along just as I came out of the shopping area I discovered yet another temple, this one with a very large buddha with one of those large monk bowl-shaped hats. It was funny because from the angle I was looking at it, the sun was directly behind it's head, making its face almost impossible to see, even from close up.

During my walks I went into a small 100 yen store and bought some soda called something like "Bubblemen soda" that was colored pink. I figured it was supposed to take like bubblegum and while it did somewhat, it also had another flavor I could not place. That place also seemed to have one of those noise generators that is supposed to keep youths from loitering. Hurt my poor ears. I walked for about 90 minutes before deciding that I was getting too cold and needed something warm to drink so I stopped into a small coffee shop and had my first cup of coffee in Japan. It was pretty decent coffee although I am no coffee drinker so I don't really know how to tell coffee apart. I do love the smell though and this shop was very nice until a man near me decided to light up and fill the place with his nasty smoke. Drank my coffee and headed back out to continue walking down the street. Eventually, I came to a building that seemed familiar to me. It was the Kodokan, headquarters for Judo. I had visited this building the last time I came to Japan but didn't get a chance to watch anyone practicing because I arrived too early in the day. This time, however, I had arrived close to 6pm which had to be close to training time, so I got on the elevator and went up to the spectator area to watch.

I shall skip the details of what I saw, except to say that it was a humbling experience to see what kind of training then undergo at the Kodokan. Not that it is superior than other dojos, but the sheer number of black belts and brown belts was staggering, especially the number of foreign black belts who were practicing there. Made me realize just how far I've yet to go in Judo. It also made me really miss practicing Judo. If I had a gi with me and weren't on vacation, now knowing how close it is to my home (like 4 stops on the subway) I'd probably go and practice there if it were within my budget.

I sat and watched everyone practicing for over two hours until I decided to get some food and go home. Leaving the dojo I decided to walk a little further in the same direction I was headed when I came across the Kodakan. I discovered that next to the dojo was this theme park with rides, shops and resturants. It was all next to and named for the Tokyo Dome Hotel. It was very cold and I cannot imagine how cold it was on the roller coaster and yet people were on it. Walked through the plaza and eventually turned around and headed back towards where I had come from in order to find someplace to eat. Found a nice little place that had an Unagi Donburi with Soba for less than 1000 yen, so I went inside and had a nice meal while the TV showed a talk showing watching an older Discovery Channel program that created simulations of various predators fighting against each other. They came to the conclusion that a Nile Aligator would win against a Lion. I might agree, but only if the alligator were near water and able to drag the lion into it and drown it. After I finished my dinner I headed to the station and took the line home. On the way home I stepped into a super market and got some sweets before heading home and going to bed.

Photos for January 22nd, 2007