From serenity to the latest gismos…
In Japan, Ginza is one of the most famous shopping districts in the world, reigning alongside Fifth Avenue. Ginza and the neighboring district of Tsukiji, home to world’s largest wholesale fish and seafood market, make up a fairly compact area. Unfortunately, with it being the first week of the New Year, many things were closed in Tokyo (and throughout all of Japan) because it is a national holiday. We were lucky to have been able to see many other touristy attractions, but the Tsukiji Central Fish Market was not something that was open during our time in Tokyo. So that will have to wait until the next time we go back! But nevertheless, we were able to spend a morning here exploring beautiful gardens and getting to perform a tea ceremony, enjoying a cruise up the Sumida-gawa (river), and checking out the latest gadgets that Sony has in store.
Hama-Rikyu Onshi-teien (Detached Palace Garden)
The Edo Period pond was a tidal pond that depended on the intake of seawater from Edo Bay. It had two duck hunting sites within the grounds. The garden is a typical example of the famous gardens of the Edo Period.
In 1654, the younger brother of Ietsuna, the 4th Tokugawa Shogun (Tsunashige, the ruler of Kofu), had part of the shallows filled in and built a residence on the reclaimed land that came to be called Kofu Hama-yashiki (Kofu “beach pavilion”). Later, Tsunashige’s son became the 6th Shogun, Ienobu, and this residence became the property of the Tokugawa family. On this occasion, the name of this residence and grounds was changed to “Hama-Goden” (Beach Palace”). From that time onward, various Shoguns made changes to the garden. The garden was finally finished at the time of the 11th shogun, Ienari, and has remained basically the same down to the present time. After the Meiji Restoration, the garden became a Detached Palace for the Imperial family and the name became the Hama Detached Palace. The Great Kanto Earthquake and World War II bombings caused a great deal of damage to a number of buildings and trees and rendered the garden unrecognizable. But on November 3rd, 1945 the Imperial family gave the garden to the City of Tokyo and it became open to the public in April of 1946.
The Manners of tasting Matcha Tea (powdered green tea):
1. The confection (sweet) is all eaten before drinking the tea. It is because the taste of the tea becomes better. Don’t taste them alternately.
2. Bring the confection toward you by putting it on the packet of paper (kaishi). Cut it with small wooden stick and eat one piece after the other.
3. Take the bowl with your right hand and place it on the left palm. In order to avoid the front of the bowl, turn the bowl clockwise twice. Then drink all the tea in three or four sips. (When the tea is served, the visitor’s side is the front of the bowl).
4. After drinking the tea, wipe the place where you drank from with your right thumb and index finger. Wipe your fingers on your kaishi. Then turn the bowl back twice so that the front faces you and place the bowl in front of you.
Tokyo Cruise on the Sumida-gawa
Though the heavily developed Sumida-gawa is no longer a quaint river, it is still famous for its 14 bridges, and a trip via suijo bus (water bus) is an excellent way to survey Tokyo’s old geography and see the city from a different perspective. We departed from Hinode Pier, in the Tsukiji area and rode upriver to Asakusa (about a 40 minute cruise).
The Sony building is situated right on Sukiyabashi Crossing and attracts gadget hounds in search of gizmos that have yet to be released. On the first four floors of this mid-century international-style mini-sky scraper, adults tend to easily lose an hour or two perusing all the latest audio and video accessories.
Our roots will forever be from here, America, born and raised. Yet, life requires us to move more frequently than we care to count. Whether living stateside or abroad, you can always find us traveling somewhere. We scout out places that you only think you can dream of one day seeing and we seek out those that aren’t found in guidebooks. We then bring them to life here in our travel memos, so hopefully, one day you too can visit them or at least be able to live vicariously through us. This blog isn’t just about crossing off places from a bucket list. It’s about absorbing and learning how other cultures grow and fit into the same world that we do. Life is short and the world is big. Enjoy and get out there!