Remember how I said there was a peacefulness and quiet aura about the city streets of Japan?
That does not apply to Tokyo.
Friday we worked until about 3:30 and then Inabe-san, Takashi, Takeo and myself headed out to visit Tokyo. This was quite the adventure. I lost count of how many trains we took the get over to the area, which was in the "town" of Shibuya. Large shopping district broken out into many areas ranging from a "teen" street to high end shopping malls with the typical brand names you would see in a luxe area. We spent about 3 hours walking around, and they were even nice enough to take me into Kiddyland (famous toy store in Japan) and I found some gifts for the boys that are like legos but smaller. When built they create Tokyo Tower and Kaminarimon.
After shopping we found a Japanese pizza place. Very good! Had good conversation as always and was once again thankful to be sitting, enjoying food and talking about Japanese culture in comparison to American culture and getting to know my dinner dates as not just co-workers but also "friends".
After dinner Takashi and I rode back from the area to Shin Yokohama and I was very happy to be going back with someone. There is about a 4% chance I would have made it back to my hotel with the way the JR system runs.
• When I lost my phone I told a few people I was "crossing my fingers" that it was found (and made the gesture). I was asked later what that meant (crossing fingers). When I explained several people responded my clasping their hands together as if in prayer.
• I noticed a lot of the trains, buildings and restaurants were not running air. They said that ever since the earthquake they need to save energy, especially with the summer coming up. A lot of buildings and areas turn off their lights after a certain time at night to conserve as well.
• Rainy season starts next month and runs into July. It becomes very humid.
• Clipping nails in the evening is a big superstition. If you do this you will not be with your parents when they die. I needed to file my nails last night but I waited until this morning…yes it was just filing but I didn't want to take the risk.
• Tissue paper seems softer.
• Toilet paper is thinner.
• You always receive you a warm towel before eating.
• A majority of the restaurants have a button you push when you're ready to order (think Studio Movie Grill), and the waiter/waitress shows up immediately. If there is no button you call to them. Very different than in America. In America you sit and wait…and wait...sometimes for a very long time.
• Many gather to temple or shrine for New Years to watch the sun rise, then toss coin in temple water, make wish and pray.
• Kimonos are not worn as often, more by older generation or while drinking tea/tea lesson.
• The people who were effected by the earthquake and tsunami and who lost their houses and cars are still required to make payments on those debts, even though they were destroyed.
Very thankful for this day!