Tokyo Drip

June 2, 2023

We arrived in Tokyo to warm weather and sunshine but Mother Nature had other plans for the next day. A typhoon out in the Pacific decided to confound 99% of the storm tracks and slip along the coast of Japan, well out to sea but close enough to blot out the sun and deliver tropical like rains with some strong winds thrown in for kicks. Fortunately, we did not have to ride in it but walking we did.

I had two events scheduled for this day. One was a day long walking tour of some of Tokyo’s sights and the other was tickets to a Japanese major league baseball game. The tour happened but the valiant Tokyo Sparrows refused to fly.

With rain coming down in sheets our indefatigable tour guide Ivette met us at the hotel lobby with a smiling face and a disposition so sunny that it nearly drove away the showers, nearly! With her ten charges in tow she led the way to the train station and through the maze of turnstiles and platform to our first stop, the shrine to Emperor Meiji. Emperor Meiji’s reign marked the end of the era of Shoguns and Samurai and the beginnings of modern Japan. With a bit of a nudge through American gunboat diplomacy courtesy of Commodore Matthew Perry, Japan recognized that it needed to modernize and the Samurai and Shoguns were not getting the job done. Emperor Meiji recognized this and led his people into the modern area. For this he is venerated as a god like being with a shrine dedicated to his spirit. People visit it to ask for various support and favors. You can buy various talismans there to promote all sorts of good things such as healthy mind and body or doing well on exams. Rather or not they work is up to you and the power of positive thinking.

From the shrine we visited other sites such as the busiest street crossing in the world at what some call Tokyo’s Times Square. Here the busiest mass transit hub in Japan spits out over 2 million people each day, all of whom need to get across the street. Luckily, we visited during torrential rains and at a slow time of the day so we did not experience the full crush of the masses. However we did get a moment to look at a statue of a loyal dog who waited nine years, sitting outside the station every day waiting for his master to return. His master had passed away while at work but no one could convince the dog to abandon his daily wait for the man who never returned. Such loyalty must be rewarded and his image is now as eternal as his patience.

Our final stop was at a recreation of a Saga Town as it would have looked at the end of the Edo period around the year 1840. It faithfully recreates and and tells the story of town life complete with sound effects and docets that were able to fill in the few details that our guide was unsure of.

For a drippy, wet day it turned out to be a great experience with a nice lunch added to the bargain. Our guide, Ivette was a Hungarian married to a Japanese and living in japan for nearly half her life. Her knowledge and language skills were excellent and she turned a gray day into a bright experience.