Finally got some time to continue posting our (somewhat stale now) travel bits.
My company asked me to visit Tokyo to work with an important client in Tokyo just a week after we returned from our vacation in Tokyo, I touched a little bit on this in our post about Tokyo Dolpa 26.
We have arrived on Dec 16th and stayed in Kawasaki most of the time.
This is our first dinner after arrival, quite late in the day when a lot of restaurants have already closed and it was hard to find a non-smoking place anyway. It's called Sara-Udon and we totally expected Udon to be a soup bowl, but it turned out to be something else, sigh.
On Dec 17th we headed to Shibuya to see if we can find something interesting, as generally it seemed that there is nothing to do in Tokyo during winter.
Disney Store entrance.
This is our dinner in Shabu-shabu restaurant. Such restaurants are mostly operating on all-you-can-eat basis, but with a time limit.
Nothing interesting happened on that day. On 18th we went to Tokyo Dolpa 26.
Starting from Monday, December 19th until Thursday December 22nd I was quite busy with the client and Ksusha was wandering around shopping and whatnot and taking some random pictures.
Chopsticks with crystals.
The cat from Kiki's delivery service pillow.
Chopstick holders in various shapes and forms. Perfect SD-sized items, but way too expensive.
Wallets on a keychain
These are chopstick holders again.
And Japanese rubberstamps.
Ah, postcards. It was a New Year season, so we were shopping for nice ones. Some of you might have received these from us, we did send quite a bit of them
And at a post office Ksusha stumbled upon anime-based post stamps (Full Metal Alchemist on the picture)! How come nobody told us about these before, we would have used these instead of the more boring usual ones.
December 23rd turned out to be a double holiday in Japan. Not only it's Christmas eve (though Christmas is not an official holiday), it's also emperor's birthday which is an official holiday.
On it's birthday Imperial Palace is open to the public and emperor with his family makes an appearance before the public three times a day, so we decided to head to the Imperial Palace.
Ote-mon gate from across the street.
At the gate there were guards not letting anybody in and a banner letting everybody know that the emperor only meets people before noon three times in total. And the admittance is from 9:30am to 11:20am through the main gate for this event.
Us being what we are, of course we were already quite late for that, so the only option remaining was the greeting book signing, so we headed to Sakashita-mon gate.
Some sort of construction was going on with external palace wall.
Guards patrolling the outer moat.
Before we got access to Sakashita-mon gate to get inside we passed through security posts that checked if we have various dangerous stuff with us, almost like at an airport.
Sakashita-mon gate itself.
Imperial guard at the gate.
These are the booths where you can sign the guestbook and then all of them presumably would be read to the emperor later in the day.
Examples of signatures.
Signing in the book.
Our entry. Being no able to write in Kanji, we resorted to English
Imperial household agency already fenced off. Pity, as there are only two days with free admission to the grounds.
Lotus moat around internal castle.
Fujimi-yagura, Donjon of the internal castle containing East gardens.
A collection of labelled boulders, I suspect these are from the construction work at the outer moat and will be returned there after completion of the works.
Another look at Fujimi-yagura.
The Imperial Palace itself is surrounded by skyscrappers of Central Tokyo.
O-bansho great guardhouse. One of the three remaining guardhouses this was the most important and the last one before the entrance, as such it was guarded by high-ranked samurai.
Inside the wall are East Gardens that were built there in 1961.
Right near the entrance is East Orchard made by the Imperial family. It contains cultivars popular in Edo period and contains citrus trees planted by His Majesty and pear trees planted by Her Majesty, also some plum cultivars are planted there. His Majesty idea was that guests should be able to enjoy these old but once popular cultivars.
And indeed we can see that there were many citruses ready to be consumed, though Ksusha was to shy to enjoy His Majesty fruits for herself. This is Kunenbo tree.
And this is Sanboukan.
We were also surprised by this tree, blossoming in the middle of the winter, when it was actually quite chilly already.
Some stone installation in the gardens.
This is site of Tenshukaku Donjon from afar.
Meanwhile we moved to a bamboo garden on the other side of the lawn.
In there several of different types of bamboo were growing side by side.
I think this one is the most common Chinese bamboo or something like that.
And now we came closer to the Tenshukaku Donjon site. A donjon was built here long ago, but was since then destroyed and only the base remained.
This lawn and big surrounding areas is built in place of Honmaru Goten Palace of Edo period build inside of this castle.
A tree at the top of the donjon base.
View of the surrounding Tokyo sky scrappers.
Now we are exiting East Gardens area.
Nice arrangement of maple leaves and also notice the difference between our shoes here and in Paris
Another blossoming tree.
Sannomaru Shozokan (The Museum of Imperial Collections).
And now we are back to Ote-mon gate, only this time from inside.
Stylized dolphin from the roof top of old Ote-mon gate that was damaged during WWII bombings.
And exiting through the Ote-mon gate, crossing the outer moat.
People observing some ducks and two swans in the moat.
The weather was chilly, so I wonder if this fuar coating helped her at all?
Swan feather in the moat water.
From the Imperial Palace we went to Ginza.
Tastings of various jams and spreads, some were quite nice, I even got some.
Night Ginza streets.
Christmas time present delivery .
We had dinner at a sushi place, Ksusha did not like it all that much, but I found it to be interesting. This is a crab-sushi with a piece of crab claw still attached and almost raw. Pretty interesting taste.
Some paper Jewelry.
And "chocolate" bags
Now these were quite strange boots if you ask me. The price is also standing out. Ksusha thinks they do look cool
Some random girl on escalator with different colored socks.
Some lit bushes at the top of some shopping center.
This concludes the first part of the trip, pre-Christmas. To be continued...