The O-Folk in Tokyo

The O-family took a trip to Tokyo last August. You probably can't tell from these photos, but it was HOT! Everywhere we went, we left little slimy trails, the way slugs do, across the pavement, but so was everybody else, so nobody said anything to us. Here we are in front of a sculpture I can't remember the actual name of, but which the people of Tokyo have nicknamed "The Giant Golden Turd." And you thought the Japanese were so culturally refined.

You may be able to read the sign in the background that says "River Commuter." We are posing under The Giant Golden Turd in the district north of Tokyo called Asskisser, but which is spelled Asakusa. I'm not going for effect here, that's what they call it. Anyway, we took a boat up from the part of Tokyo by the bay where we were staying up the river to visit the Asakusa shrine and see the plastic food in Kitchenware City. C'mon, I'm not making this up, honest.

Well, believe it or don't, that's the Asakusa Shrine, which is called something else, probably something unbelievable, but I'm not going to dig out the guide book to look it up right now. This shrine, like so many others in Japan, is covered in alterating layers of bird guano and red paint. The birds somehow manage to get through the shrine's defenses, made up of chicken wire and what looks like rows upon rows of knitting needles. I never see birds actually sitting on the shrines, so they must be divecrapping the things. Wow, I think I went way over the top on this one. On to the next slide ...

So long as we're doing shrines, here's the Meiji Shrine. This one had no bird poop on it at all, that I could see; dozens of devotees in robes roamed the grounds, sweeping away every mote and leaf that fell. We sort of overloaded on shrines while we were there, but I'm not going to do that to you. I like this photo because of the way my lovely bride is posing every so coyly in the bottom left of the picture.

Time for some refreshment! Tokyo is one of the few really civilized places on earth, because they have a museum devoted entirely to the history of beer brewing. We stopped at the Beer Museum Yebisu on the first day of our visit. Couldn't understand a single thing that was going on there, although they had a pretty cool cartoon apparently explaining that beer was made by fairies and demons. Well, that's all we got out of it, anyway. Then we posed by the big beer cans in the courtyard. They were empty.

I love this town! Even the train stations are more civilized than in other countries. This train station, right across the street from the sumo stadium, is named Beer Station Ryougoku. Can it get any more poetic than that? It's not, unfortunately, a subway stop, so we didn't take the train to Beer Station Ryougoku when we visited the sumo museum, and by the way, when you get to Tokyo, I'd give the sumo museum a miss if I were you. It's one small room with some paintings, some war paddles, maybe a couple kimonos, and it's packed belly buttons to butts with adoring sumo-lovers. We like sumo, but I don't think we'd cross town for this twice.

Well, here it is, the longest tapeworm ever extracted from a live human being anywhere in the world, preserved in its own case for viewing. You can see this mighty mite in the Meguro Parasitological Museum, and who wouldn't want to? Turns out that this is a much more popular tourist destination than you might at first think; the two-story museum was packed shoulder-to-shoulder when we were there, and it's not the easiest place in Tokyo to find, so quite a few people must have been actively looking for it. By the way, behind Tim you can see the handy 26-foot long tape that you can stretch across the room to better appreciate how long that little sucker is.

Man, that is one skinny building, isn't it? I thought it was a trick of the light when I first saw it, but no, it really is a building one room deep; it wasn't very wide, either. Looks like a stiff breeze would knock it over, don't you think? Tokyo isn't exactly packed with buildings like this, but most buildings do go up before they spread out; the high-rises across the street from the hotel we stayed in were just a little wider than this sliver.

 

The family loves it when I snap photos of them while we're riding the subway. Just ask them. The subway in Tokyo is probably the best train system I've ever ridden on anywhere. The Germans came close, but even their trains weren't as punctual, and I've never been in any subway system anywhere that had bathrooms. Tokyo subway stations have more than one set of bathrooms! If you think I'm going over the top again, you try touring a big city using only public transportation and no public bathrooms, especially when you've got a family in tow.

Or you could get a bicycle and ride it everywhere. No, we didn't do that, but we saw plenty of people who did. Bicyclists ride on the sidewalks of Tokyo, and you'd better get out of their way when you see them coming, because they won't make eye contact with you, and if they don't see you, you're not there. Doesn't matter how many people are packing you in on all sides, or how narrow the pavement is. I love this photo of all the bikes and the high-rises in Meguro; it looks more like Tokyo than any of the other photos we have. Too bad none of the O-family are in it.

 

That's all from the O-family's first trip to Tokyo! I'll just bet you can't wait for the next trip, when you'll get a flurry of more photographs featuring turds, poop-covered shrines, and parasites floating in preservative-filled jars. Me neither! Bye for now!

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