Also, I was so tired yesterday that I forgot to mention a neat thing we saw in Atsugi. While in the taxi to Aoi-chan's school, we heard voices chanting, & then saw a small procession coming down the side of the street, right past the taxi. It was a group of kids wearing hapi coats, carrying a small omikoshi, assisted & cheered-on by some adults. An omikoshi is a portable shrine that is used to carry the gods from Shinto shrines on yearly visits to the communities they are in. The omikoshi are purified (usually by dancing by shrine maidens, called miko) and then the Shinto priests transfer the spirit of the god from the large shrine to the small omikoshi, which, already beautifully painted & embellished, is decorated with flowers & pine branches & such. The omikoshi are pretty heavy, so it can take a lot of folks (all wearing festive hapi coats) to carry them around. Often there is a lot of sake involved as well :) The omikoshi is carried all over the town, and a friend tells me that in the small town she lived in they would carry it right into the ocean & out again. We saw the preparations for a large festival at the Fushimi Inari shrine in Kyoto once & it was just amazing. This little procession was the junior version of what you usually see, but it was very cool nonetheless.
Since it's Sunday & stores open later, and we didn't buy pastries for breakfast yesterday, we decided to do the breakfast buffet at the hotel. They open at 6:30 am, & we got there around 7:30 am :) It was a neat mix of western-style breakfast food & Japanese traditional & modern breakfast food, meaning that you could get made-to-order omelettes, "mushed" potatoes, fresh fruit, pancakes-french toast-waffles, rice-miso soup-tofu-pickles, & toast & "healthy salad", & pastries. I didn't find the Japanese brekkie until after I'd found the french toast, so I had a schizoid breakfast :) Very yummy!!
Today's plan is to go to Roppongi, the most westernised area of Tokyo, host of many embassies & western clubs. A friend from Rochester, Kate, is visiting her sister & brother-in-law & baby niece, who live on the Naval base in Atsugi, and they happen to be staying in Roppongi for the weekend. Charlie's been trying to get to the Mori Modern Art museum in Roppongi for a few trips now, so it's a natural. We hope to meet Kate for lunch & maybe museum-ing, depending on the vagaries of baby nieces :)
We left the hotel for Shinjuku Station at 10:00 & headed to the Oedo Line to get to Roppongi. I get all geeky when we ride the Oedo Line trains, because there's a goofy anime that was made about the Oedo Line & stations (the stations are personified as cute guys :) that I always rewatch before returning to Japan. You learn a lot of trivia about the Oedo Line, & it's just a fun watch :) One thing I learned from the show is that it's the deepest line in Tokyo, which quickly becomes apparent when you have to take multiple escalators & stairways to get to the tracks. It's only 4 stops from Shinjuku to Roppongi, so the ride was only about 15 minutes. We were heading to the to Mori art museum in Mori Tower, in Roppongi Hills, so we found a map outside the station & found it was only a couple blocks' walk. It was another warm, sunny day, so the short walk wasn't bad. There was a very cool wall of waterfalls at the entrance to the courtyard where the museum entrance was. There were also some fun movies posters for a nearby movie theatre, featuring the new Mamoru Hosoda movie, Bakemono no Ko ("The Boy & the Beast"), the Avengers movie, & The Terminator :)
We went to the art museum to get tickets & discovered that the museum is closed right now because they're installing a new exhibit. This seems to be the story of our lives, Tokyo museum-wise. Even though Charlie checked the web site beforehand, they never mentioned that it was closed right now. Sigh. We decided to find a Starbucks & wait for word from Kate. On the way, we saw a very creepy sculpture (according to Brendan) which nonetheless looked very familiar:
I did some research & it's called "Maman" by French sculptor Louise Bourgeois. We've seen another of her spider sculptures outside the National Art Gallery in Ottawa, hence the familiarity.
The first few floors of Mori Tower are shopping areas, & it's very pretty as well.
We found Starbucks :)
Happy hamsterbeans are happy :)
They also had wifi at Starbucks, so it was a good place to hang out while waiting to hear from Kate. I got some spinning done:
The guys went looking for lunch places while I sat & spun, & when it got nearly to 1:00 & no word, we went & had lunch at a very noisy Italian place. Every time guests would come in, the host or hostess would yell out & the entire kitchen staff would yell "irasshaimase", which is a polite "welcome". I found it hilarious, but it got on Brendan's nerves. However, the Margharita pizzas that Brendan & I had were absolutely delicious! (We carry Lactaid tablets, for pizza emergencies :)
It was so yummy I nearly forgot to take a photo.
We heard from Kate's sister & arranged to meet outside the Mori Art museum in half an hour, perfect for finishing lunch, walking back, & buying socks. Cute socks. :)
Yay! Kate arrived!!
We informed her that the Mori art museum was closed, but we had a backup art museum, the Suntory, which was just a few blocks away. She hand't eaten yet, so after those few blocks we immediately looked for a place to eat. The guys went on to the museum & Kate & I found a food court, where she had a slice of pizza from a bakery & I got some juice- gotta stay hydrated! Then we met Charlie & Brendan in the museum. The only exhibit was 2 floors of pottery from the 1700's by master potter Ogata Kenzan. Gorgeous, gorgeous pottery.
We were all pretty tired, so we headed back to Roppongi Station & parted ways, Kate heading in one direction & us back to Shinjuku. We hope to meet up with her again in Kyoto this coming weekend.
The main things on my mind were dinner & brekkie, so after getting off the train we went back to the Keio department store & got more yummy korroke & a bentou to share & some pastries for tomorrow. Then we hit the conbini for beverages. Trudged home & kind of crashed. Brendan read more Terry Pratchett to us. And I took a photo of the pretty lights of nighttime Shinjuku.