4:00 a.m. Wednesday morning. I am lying on a futon with a hard pillow behind my head and a thick down comforter covering me. There is a chill in the air. Sweet. To my right there is a wall of window. In the predawn light, the window frame seems a picture frame that’s framing a Japanese wood block print. Dark gray sky, white cloud mountains and silhouetted trees, stark as if they had been cut out of black construction paper. Beautiful harbinger of the day to come.
Monday was our final day in Tokyo. We went to the Senso Ji or Asakusa Temple. We arrived at the temple gate at 11:00 and it took us 90 minutes to finally enter the actual temple. The walkway and the side streets are lined with hundreds of tiny tourist shops, and there were thousands of people milling about. It was great fun. We bought chop sticks and I bought some postcards. The temple is a Buddhist Temple and the oldest one in Tokyo. The surrounding area is "old Tokyo" offering a view of what Tokyo once was. Enchanting. Charming.
I felt more at home here. Not sure why. It was crowded, hectic, and loud . . . very different than the Meiji Shrine with its elegant and majestic grounds. Anyway, I had a great time at the Temple and I really enjoyed walking the narrow streets of the surrounding neighborhood. We continued strolling those narrow street until we found a wonderful lunch place, "Goroku,." We had what we called Japanese Tapas. I had Assorted Tempura, Pork Rolls, Crab Coquettes, along with a glass of red wine. Everything was delicious. Ready to go again, we continued walking the area and finally caught a taxi to head to another part of town for the evening.
40 minutes later we were in a glitzy part of town called Kabukicho in the area called Shinjuku. Bright colorful neon flashing lights. Young, fast paced, alive. Street barkers encouraging people to eat at this restaurant or to take in that show. The taxi driver got us as close as he could and it was fun walking the pedestrian streets looking for "Robot Restaurant." Up this street, down that one, turn left there and then right, we finally found it. Huge sign nearly 30 feet long. Wow.
We went to the Robot Restaurant for the show. It is not a restaurant and as it turned out it wasn’t really a show, or at least not something I would call a show. It was the worst "show" I’ve ever seen. The only saving grace was that it was so bad that it was funny, and I was curious to see just how bad it would be. How bad was it? The bottom.
As we left I smiled and thought about how our universe, a reflection of something more real, expresses itself as a duality. We have experiences the ups, and now the downs of Tokyo. It’s time to move on.
Tuesday morning we had gone to Tokyo Station and waited on Platform 17 to take the noon Bullet Train to Kyoto. We arrived mid-afternoon at our hotel — Gion Hatanaka Ryokan. A Ryokan is a traditional Japanese county inn. This one is beautiful. Minimalistic in design with an elegant ambiance. We had a traditional Japanese dinner served in our room. Several courses, each a work of art as well as a delicious dish — haute cuisine of nine courses. Beautiful. After dinner our server set up the futon beds, and we went down to the public baths on the lower level of the Ryokan. We will move to a Western hotel today but we wanted to have one night at a place like this.
It’s now 7:30 a.m. I am still looking out my window. My "Japanese Wood Block" painting has shifted now to become a lush green morning with a soft blue sky. There’s a rainbow arching between the trees. Yes, a beautiful day to come. Our Japanese breakfast will arrive at 8:30 and we will discover what the days holds.