Konichiwa Japan

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March 25th 2016
Published: March 27th 2016
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We arrived yesterday after a good flight and spent the afternoon in the East Gardens of the Imperial Palace. The palace is closed to the public as it is home to the Imperial Family, who were moved there from Kyoto in 1868 after the fall of the Edo regime. The area has massive moats, impressive guardhouses and beautifully landscaped gardens. Much was not yet in flower but there was one magnificent early cherry blossom which was absolutely swamped by people taking photos with it. I gather taking your child's photo under the cherry blossom is a Japanese ritual akin to Australians photographi their kids on Santa's knee. It's certainly much more photogenic.

After that we found our accomodation without problem and then had quite a story getting our bags. They had been sent from the airport but when we arrived at the puck up address the office was closed. We asked next door where luckily for us an English lesson was in progress and a very helpful man spent 20 minutes phoning the company, insisting they open, waiting with us until a storeman appeared and then convincing him in a flurry of Japanese to fetch our bags. Much gratitude and deep bowing!

Today we began at Yoyogi Park, a favourite haunt for Japanese families. It was full of atmosphere with hundreds of people having hanami - picnics under the cherry blossoms, many of which were already in flower. There was a first weekend of Spring atmosphere- lots of groups playing games, singing karaoke, having company or extended family outings, a flea market and music.

In a separate part of the park is the Meiji shrine and I had read that if we went on Sunday morning we might be lucky enough to see a Shinto wedding. Well we chose the right Sunday morning! We saw about eight! They must book in the ceremonies every 15 minutes. The brides wear white kimonos with striking big white round hoods and the grooms wear traditional wide striped pants. Each couple follows two priests and two shrine maidens in a parade through the courtyard under a big red umbrella with relatives following - many women in traditional dress. They also pose for photos where photographic assistants and ettiqupetite specialists spent masses of time arranging every fold in the kimono perfectly. It was a fantastic spectacle.

This afternoon we explored modern Tokyo, walking down the fashionable Takeshita Dori where we looked out for groups of girls (and the occasional boy)dressed in lace and wigs Lolita-style. Then we walked down Omotesando with its towering impressive glass modern architecture. We liked the Prada building with its honeycomb glass and the ornate concrete and glass Tods buildings best.


27th March 2016

Wonderful times
So lovely to read your first blog entry from Japan as we enjoy a long warm weekend in Canberra at the music festival. Hope your adventures continue to be fun and we look forward to the next instalment.

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