We started at the Imperial Palace and Gardens, which is the residence of the Emperor of Japan. Like England, Japan has both this figurehead and a Prime Minister, so it was fun to see where the “royal family” lives. It looked very old and traditional, but its beauty is one of a kind. There weren’t many tourists (probably due to the recent earthquakes), so the environment was calm, serene, and enjoyable.
After more walking we ended up at the Ginza shopping district, which reminded me of Soho in New York. This area felt more like typical Japan, in that the streets were very crowded. We spent a lot of time in the seven-story Sony store, which featured some 3d video technology that had me in awe. We also ate in this area at a burger joint called Freshness Burger. My “value meal” was probably a third of the size as what we’d consider fast food.
Next on the agenda was Yasukuni Jinja, which translates to “the shrine of a peaceful country”. This shrine honors those who died on Japan’s behalf during World War II, which is considered controversial by many of the Japanese. We’re all familiar with what happened at Pearl Harbor, but this shrine also honors those who went into China and Korea to kill and rape its women and children. The Japanese conservatives who support this shrine typically don’t like outsiders of any type, but thankfully we didn’t have any issues. I took part in a ritual that you’re supposed to do before entering any shrine, which consisted of washing your hands and mouth in a well: symbolically cleansing your body and spirit.
Exhausted, we strolled back to the train, up the hill, and to our rooms. あしがいたい！ (My feet hurt)