Jun 6, 2014

Day 7: Through the eyes of a tourist

A poster at the Ryogoku train station
I went to Edo-Tokyo museum and Asakusa on a field trip with my class.
Edo-Tokyo museum traces the history of Tokyo to the Edo and Meiji period when Tokyo was Edo. The museum was located in an area called Ryogoku which has quite a bit of sumo wrestler activity (rings, restaurants, etc) and the building of the museum resembled a crouching sumo wrestler.

After learning about life in the Edo period and modernization during the time of the world war, we went to lunch to a place where sumo wrestlers often eat. The traditional food that sum wrestlers eat to bulk up is called 'chanko-nabe', a hot pot dish. But since we aren't sumo wrestlers and don't have the capacity to each 20,000 calories a day, we ate another type of meal, which included fried chicken, soup, rice and salad, all of which were delicious. The restaurant had a very traditional decor. The waiters were dressed traditionally and we sat cross legged on the floor in a tatami matted room. We ate sherbet for dessert. It was a lighter and more fruity version of ice cream.

A display of Kabuki, a kind of Japanese theater at the Edo-Tokyo museum. If you look carefully, you can see a circular line on the stage. That is actually a moving staging of sorts which rotates when its time for the actors to end the scene. Kabuki was known for its innovative effects. 

A sumo wrestler lunch
The Senso-ji Temple
 After lunch, we took the train to Asakusa which is famous for its Senso-ji temple. The temple was very beautiful with gold carvings and idols. Apart from the temple, there were little shops and restaurants on the side, and it was fun to wander around the area despite the rain. Asakusa had some very distinctive sweets. I tried a sweet with red bean paste inside a sort of bread. There were colorful ice creams available of some very exotic flavors, like yam, green tea and chestnut.
Both of these were fairly touristy places and I saw quite a few foreigners in the areas, which also meant that a fair number of people could speak English. Nevertheless, I tried speaking Japanese while asking for directions. 

I came home for dinner and ate a dinner of niratama and sashimi. Along with sashimi, I tasted a very strong flavored leaf called aojiso, which I could only take one bite of. Kaori-san introduced me to J-pop, short for Japanese pop music. It sounded very much like Hollywood pop and even though I couldn't understand the words, I liked it. Apparently, it is quite normal for Japanese artists to make cover albums in which people sing songs written and originally sung by someone else (as long as they have the permission). 

The rain was a lot worse and I was exhausted by the end of the day, but I was very impressed to see that life didn't stop for anyone and nobody complained about the rain. Infact, while walking to the train station in the morning, I saw a women in full office wear running to make it in time for the next train despite the rain.I guess the weather isn't a good enough excuse to be late! I also saw a man dressed in a suit on a bicycle  holding up an umbrella with one hand. I stopped feeling sorry for myself after that. Resilience at its best. 

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