So as you probably know, my transportation specialist is studying hard trying to get a better handle on the Japanese language in addition to all of his other coursework this semester. Because of this, he has been telling me he doesn’t have time to fulfill my detailed itinerary of places to visit during my limited time in this lovely country. However, while I was messing around with his Facebook page, (He really should put a password on the computer, but I won’t tell him if you won’t!) I found out that he had gone on a field trip with a group from Aoyama Gakuin University to the Edo-Tokyo Museum and Asakusa, a ward of Tokyo famous for a Buddhist shrine in. He told me he spent the whole day studying on campus!!!!
Once I confronted him about this little breach of trust he came clean and has displayed a more contrite attitude. He’s promised to try and get out to more interesting things (and remember to take me along!) in the future. For now though, I got him to give me some details about the trip. Without further ado, let’s begin.
First off my transportation specialist joined with the other students, mostly international exchange students but some Japanese students as well, about 30 in all at about 9 am and climbed aboard a chartered bus to travel to the to the Edo-Tokyo Museum. The students were divided into smaller groups, so they would have some autonomy to explore on their own, while still ensuring that all of the students had someone with them at all times.
The museum was a multi-level affair with full size reconstructions of Edo era structures inside, along with many other displays. Many of the artifacts were kept under glass to help preserve them, but many replicas of artifacts were on display in such a way that they could be touched and experienced directly by the visitors to the museum. Unfortunately, the group was only allow about an hour to explore, which was an inadequate amount of time to do more than get a taste of what the museum had to offer. My transportation specialist particularly regretted not being able to see an exhibit that dealt with children who had grown up during Imperial Japan’s war years in the 30s and 40s. However, after the hour had expired, they were bundled back onto the bus to their next location.
At Sansada, a tempura restaurant in the Asakusa district, the entire group was seated in a private dining room. The main dish was fried foods in tempura, a particular type of batter that is often used on vegetables, and meats. On the plate pictured is a jumbo shrimp, whitefish, green bell pepper, and sliced mixed vegetables, all fried in the tempura batter. The bowl next to the plate has a dipping sauce, which the white mound of daikon radish on the plate is mixed into. The two bowls to the right are pickled vegetables which are transferred to the rice bowl and eaten with rice in the bowl directly above the plate of tempura. Finally the yellow squares in the bowl are the Japanese equivalent of scrambled eggs. They are fried eggs with sugar and other undisclosed ingredients. Supposedly they are very easy to prepare. I am assured that they tasted delicious, like the rest of the food. Of course, I wouldn’t know. I spent the day trying to play Klondike with a deck of cards missing the eight of clubs and the six of hearts.
After the meal, it was back onto the bus to visit the temple. Before actually visiting the temple, however the entire group visited a kimono rental shop where they were garbed in the Japanese traditional dress in order to better appreciate the temple experience. My transportation specialist provided the fitting specialist at the rental shop with a small challenge. They worked very hard, but there simply wasn’t a large enough kimono to fit my transportation specialist properly. In the end, he wore one kimono on backwards in front to cover any gaps, while another kimono was fitted as close to properly as possible to give the appearance of a traditional kimono. Through their diligent efforts, a sufficient effect was achieved.
The final stop on this visit was at Sensoji, a large Buddhist temple and grounds within walking distance from the kimono rental place. My transportation specialist reported that it was very crowded on a Sunday afternoon, which should be expected of a famous temple on the weekend. There were fortune temple booths, where for 100 yen one could have a fortune read by traditional Japanese methods. In the temple itself there were a number of artifacts behind a glass wall with prominent signs stating that no picture taking was allowed. Not that stopped anyone. The crowded nature of the temple took something away from my transportation specialist’s enjoyment of the experience. I believe he plans on finding a smaller temple that is perhaps less crowded to be able to enjoy the experience.
Next time I hope he remember that his purpose is to take me around Japan, not go visit things by himself.
Until then, Hippo Hippo!