Saturday, September 6, 2008

JapanBall 2008 - Tokyo Sightseeing

Day Two began with Marc waking up at 5:15am and going for a run.  I couldn't bear the thought of emerging from the covers until at least 6:30.  The JapanBall group met in the hotel lobby later that morning for a bit of sightseeing around Tokyo.  Bob Bavasi bought train tickets for those of us whose Rail Passes weren’t yet active.  This is the easy part of the tour.  It’s so nice to have someone who has been to Tokyo as many times as Bob has because he does everything for us.  It takes a lot of the stress out of figuring out the maps and ticket machines.  Marc and I have done this many times and are quite capable, but it always takes us a while to wrap our heads around the directions.  It put us at ease to have Bob do all the guesswork for us.  Besides, we’ll have plenty of time on our own to wrestle with Japan’s public transportation system once the baseball tour is over.

I love wandering around Tokyo.  Although Marc and I have been to the Ginza, it was nice to see it again through the eyes of people who have never been.   And I always relish the chance to see the Kabuki Theater.  I have taken dozens of pictures of this structure, but each time I see it, I take more. It’s almost as if I discover a new little detail that I hadn’t noticed. We marveled over the crowd of people waiting in the muggy air outside of the theater.  

After our walk through Japan’s famous shopping center, we found a different kind of shopping area in the Ueno section of Tokyo.  Ameyayokocho has its roots in the post–World War II black market, and it is still a thriving shopping arcade.  Goods such as clothing, jewelry, and all kinds of food are on display.  

Bob turned us loose and let us roam on our own for about ninety minutes.  Marc and I tired of Ameyayokocho after a few passes through its alleys and decided to go across the street to Ueno Park in search of cats.  Last year we hit the cat bounty in Ueno and saw dozens, but this year we saw only two.  One made it as the cat of the day (see previous blog entry).

We walked through Ueno Park's tree-lined corridors to escape the brutality of the blazing sun.  As luck would have it, we ran into a parade.  Elaborate floats were carried on the shoulders of young men and women wearing colorful happi coats.  We have no idea what the parade was celebrating, but it was fun to watch.

The group reconvened at the massive Ueno Park train station to head back to the hotel.  Marc and I bought bread at Andersen bakery to eat when we were in our rooms.  After a quick nap, we were ready to see our first Japanese baseball game. 

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