We woke up early and headed off to see the oldest temple in Tokyo. It’s called Senso-ji, and it was founded in 628. (That’s not a typo. There’s not a “1” missing at the front. Six-twenty-eight!) Here it is:
We hung out there for about an hour (and took 14 million photos, which all pretty much looked the same). Then we walked slowly through this strip of stores:
I bought a delicious fried pumpkin treat here . . .
. . . and laughed at the signs here:
No disrespect intended. The “broken” English that I heard and read throughout the trip was way better than my Japanese — but it still amused me.
Another thing I heard was constant talk of “cherry blossoms.” Cherry blossoms this. Cherry blossoms that. I even heard about it before the trip. “OMG, you’re going to Japan?! Take some pictures of the cherry blossoms for me!!” I’m not kidding. But there was a problem: the winter had been extra-cold, so the cherry blossoms weren’t yet in bloom. You’ve seen the famous video of Allan Iverson saying the word “practice” over and over, right? That’s basically me with the cherry blossoms. I truly don’t get it. Did you notice the fake cherry blossoms three photos up, poking out above the stores? This country is obsessed with cherry blossoms. Cherry blossoms?! Seriously?! For some reason (a concentrated beam of sunlight, perhaps), there was ONE fully-bloomed cherry blossom tree. We found it a bit later in the day at Ueno Park. Click the link that I just provided. Do you see the caption under the photo? Here, let me repeat it: “visitors enjoying the cherry blossoms.” I’m aware that the people who obsess over cherry blossoms would probably say, “Baseball?! Seriously?!” but whatever. We’re not talking about baseball. We’re talking about cherry blossoms. And here they are:
Okay, fine, it was beautiful, and I suppose that seeing an entire mountainside of it would be rather nifty, but I still don’t get it. I mean, I *get* it but don’t personally feel the wonder and passion. “Thats cuz you didn’t see the whole mountainside in bloom!!” I need to choose my words carefully or else I’ll start getting hate mail from the Japan Cherry Blossom Association, and yes, that organization really does exist. Can we stop talking about cherry blossoms now?
We found a bustling market near the park . . .
. . . and saw all sorts of “food” for sale:
We also saw a bunch of stores (if that’s the word) that specialized in those “grabber” games. Here’s one of them:
Our next destination was an electronics-centric neighborhood called Akihabara. Check out the funky architecture there:
Here’s some more:
As you can see, it was the video game capital of the world. I was excited to see an entire building devoted to Taito:
(The cherry blossom enthusiasts are saying, “Video games?! Seriously?!” Someone should invent a video game with cherry blossoms, and then everyone’ll be happy.)
Taito, for the 99.9999 percent of you who have no reason to know or care, is the company that developed my favorite video game of all time: Arkanoid. Unfortunately the game was nowhere to be found inside the Taito building, but look what I got to play instead:
As much as I love classic video games, I had no idea that “Vs. Super Mario Bros.” was different from the original, so I was surprised to see subtle differences like this:
The original has a solid ceiling of bricks overhead in that spot. According to Wikipedia, the later levels are completely different. If I’d known that at the time, I would’ve kept playing — and my mom and half-sister would’ve abandoned me there.
Soon after leaving the Taito building, we passed this:
We did briefly poke around inside this place . . .
. . . which was devoted entirely to anime. I took a few photos inside, which apparently violated some serious rule. I say this because an employee stormed over and shouted “Delete!” and stood next to me and eyed my camera as I erased the few pictures one by one. (Awkward!)
Here’s some more funny English for you:
Did I mention that a large percentage of Japanese women dress like schoolgirls? I happen to like that look . . . on certain people . . . with a specific body type. Here’s a good example:
And finally, here’s a good example of contradictory behavior:
Only in Japan.