Weekend in Tokyo

The Japanese hang carp windsocks for the boys in their family on Boy's--I mean Children's--Day on May 5.

It’s “Golden Week” in Japan, a string of  public holidays from April 29-May 5 that include the Pearl-Harbor-bombing-era Emperor’s birthday and Children’s Day, known until recently (and probably still mostly practiced) as Boy’s Day. Our bucolic little beach town is suddenly packed so on Saturday we woke up and decided to go to Tokyo, which is supposed to be empty this time of year. On a whim, we called the New Sanno Hotel, the Navy’s hotel in downtown  Tokyo, and they had one room available: the Japanese suite! So much for sleeping in a bed. At least we could still get room service, with all the American favorites like pizza with half pepperoni and half ham.

One room of the Japanese suite. At bedtime, they came and rolled out the futons for us to sleep on.

I’ve read other people describe Tokyo as like another planet. Driving in, that seemed to be the case. The elevated, stacked expressways wove through lots of tall and imaginatively-designed buildings. It made me realize again just how conservative American architecture, especially in a place like D.C., can be. Why can’t we just have more fun with buildings? Anyway, it looked kind of  like the Jetsons, minus the flying cars. Once on the ground, though, I thought Tokyo was more on the human scale. The weather was perfect, Golden indeed, and wandered around the Imperial Palace gardens:

On the subway.

Hello, we're here to see the Emperor please.

Azaleas galore. Take that Charleston.

And then we went to Ginza, the nice shopping district. I couldn’t afford anything, but I made a new friend.

The perfect man--silent but helpful.

Sunday morning, Chip and Rob walked around Roppongi, near our hotel. Roppongi is known for its neon and nightlife (if you want to marry an American sailor, go hang out there), but Rob found some other kinds of signs:

Meanwhile, I was back at the New Sanno, enjoying two cups of coffee, uninterrupted, and watching the Kentucky Derby on AFN. Bliss.

Sunday we wandered around Ueno Park, and went to the Tokyo National Museum. Ueno Park was beautiful and very festive. You could buy anything from octopus balls (fried dough balls with bits of octopus in them) to taxidermied sea turtles at the food stalls and flea market.

Sea Turtle

A wonderful weekend. I even drove home from Tokyo, something I never ever thought I’d do.

And now, the cutest picture of Chip from the weekend:

Little boy in the big city.

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10 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Betsy Gluten Freedom
    May 03, 2010 @ 16:52:30

    Glad you got a little time to yourself in the big city. Nice work on the driving!

    Those signs are hysterical. I don’t even understand what they’re trying to say…

    Reply

  2. Huck
    May 03, 2010 @ 21:25:56

    I love how Chip is gnawing on the front of his stroller!

    What a wonderful Tokyo get away.

    Reply

  3. Fungus
    May 04, 2010 @ 17:01:08

    Hi Sis!

    post more japanese signs as you find them, those are hilarious.

    that is all.

    Reply

  4. marcia roberts
    May 05, 2010 @ 23:33:54

    HEY! This is Marion borrowing Marcia’s site (or a stranger just writing abstract replies to blogs.) WHAT A GREAT ADVENTURE! We are enjoying the pictures, the stories and your great humor. I told your mom and dad “SHE NEEDS TO PUBLISH THESE!” I could then read them to your elderly father. Have a GREAT time. We all love you (the Watts clan)

    Reply

    • wattsabi
      May 06, 2010 @ 08:11:04

      Marion! Thanks for reading. You are too nice. Take care of my poor elderly father until I get back–he needs looking after by a spring chicken like you…

      Reply

  5. Dad
    May 06, 2010 @ 15:10:30

    When I retire, I want to compose safety signs for the Minato City Azabu Regional City Office.

    “please keep hands and feet away from shark tank” or

    ” do not picnic with bears or in the middle of busy intersections”

    Dad

    P.S. Please tell Marion he is as old as I am

    Reply

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