My first impressions of Tokyo are these:
- Every Japanese person we have interacted with has been incredibly kind and patient with us, despite the wide language barrier. Case in point, the following is a photo of the man at the train station who helped us buy our multi-day train passes. He just popped out of the wall!!
- Tokyo is incredibly clean, despite the complete lack of trash cans anywhere! I don't know if people just make less trash, or if they carry it around with themselves like I have started doing, but we can't figure out how the place is so clean!
- There is such an incredible culture of fun and downright cuteness. We had heard about cat cafes before we came, cafes that are filled with kittens you can pet while you dine. Then we saw a billboard with cats and the letters "8F" so we crossed the street, found the elevator, went to the 8th floor, and...nothing. The buildings here are so tall and narrow that we were in the wrong one! So, we went back down, went to the next building, elevator to the 8th floor, and we were smack dab in a father-daughter run cat cafe. Though none were as cute as the lovies we left behind in the US, it was a hilarious and delightful experience!
- It is a blessing for the language barrier that the Japanese have a culture of plastic food outside restaurants with prices listed. We went to lunch yesterday at a restaurant with no picture menus and an english menu that clearly did not match the Japanese menu, so Cory went back outside, took a photo of the plastic entrees we wanted with his iphone and then showed the server. Done and done!! And who is to thank for all the plastic food? The plastic food shops of Kappabashi-Dori, of course! Below is a photo of one of the shops we went to...they even make plastic pizzas and pasta dishes for the Italian restaurants here!
And lest you think we have accomplished nothing of high culture, we did go to a temple on our first real morning, which was beautiful. We went through all the customs of temple visiting after watching the other tourists who knew what they were doing. First we paid 100 yen (about $1 US) for a fortune (which incidentally told us it's "good to take a trip") and then Cory tied it to a rack where it would help come true (I assume...we just did what everyone else was doing!). We also washed our hands and were bathed in incense smoke prior to entering the temple, as methods of cleansing.
Unfortunately, we missed the Cherry Blossoms by about two weeks, but that has not made the city and its parks (Uneo Park below) any less beautiful! And there have been a few late bloomers around town...