Saturday, December 29, 2007

12/30/07 Japan with Angelica

It has already been a week since I picked up Angelica from the airport, and we have been doing a ton. Where better to start that at the beginning?

We were already in the Tokyo area due to her flight, so I figured we could save time and money if we simply spent a few days sightseeing before returning to Ashikaga. We bought some tickets for a hostel in the Asakusa(wikitravel) area of Tokyo, so we took the subway to the station that was indicated in the hostel's literature. At this point we realized that although we were at the correct station, we still had only an address with no map to guide us. I was just about to give up and signal a taxi when a little boy and his dad walked up. I had earlier noticed them half glancing at us and discussing amongst themselves, so when then finally stepped up I figured we were about to be either assisted or mugged.

Luckily the two had decided on the former, and quickly snatched up the printout we had from our hostel. Via the contact information listed, they called the establishment and proceeded to walk with us several blocks all the way to the exact spot we were staying. Part of the way to our destination, an employee from the hostel was waiting for us on the corner. Rather than wave off our current guides, he simply joined our merry band and continued on towards the hostel.

I gathered that the motivation of the first group was that the father had worked in France at some point. He apparently wanted to practice his French despite my repeated protests in English and Japanese. He was unable to speak any English and he was similarly unamused that Angelica can speak Spanish. The son is a junior high school student so in order to be a gracious guest I spoke with him in my super slow English, something that I usually refuse to do outside of class.

Anyway, I thought that all of this random kindness from strangers was the best first impression to Angelica that Japan could possibly hope for. Good work, Japan.

The hostel ended up being pretty quality. A pair of clean bunk beds behind a door with a lock on it is all I really needed. They were even some PCs with internet access setup for our free enjoyment. Very convenient for the confused traveler.

We spent the rest of the night wandering around Asakusa. By that time many of the touristy places were already closed, but I think that we still had a good time.

Here we are at Kaminarimon in Asakusa. There is a cool statue on either side of the large gate, one depicting Raijin the god of thunder, the other Fujin, the god of wind. The giant lantern behind us is pretty famous and thoroughly photographed.

Opposite the gate are a seemingly endless amount of shop stalls. We arrived a bit late to make any purchases, unfortuantely.

Realizing that pretty much everything would be closed in Tokyo after 9pm, even on a Saturday, I took her to the only place that I was certain would still have some life to it. Roppongi (wikitravel). It is known as one of the party districts of Tokyo, and a favorite spot for foreigners. The streets were lined with non-Japanese men trying to drum up business for their respective clubs. Sure its a bit grimy, but there were plenty of interesting things to see. We were both too tired to do any partying, but just the atmosphere of this place makes it worth a look.

During our wanderings we caught a good view of Tokyo Tower, the tallest man-made structure in Japan.

The saga continues.

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