Well, as always, we had a great time in Tokyo with George. He truly is one of the most amazing hosts ever. Every time I visit him, there are major changes. The first time was in 2000, in which some of my really good friends, brother, and I flew out there to celebrate the New Year’s Eve millennium in style. The second time I was honored to be part of a Shinto wedding of George and Miyako in Takayama. Christian Schwarz and I were the first westerners to be part of a wedding at this temple. A great experience. The third time I stopped by on a 4-day layover for my Australia trip. By this time, George had two children. And now we are at 2012, and George has four wonderful children. He is truly a busy man. Trying to populate all of Japan.
We spent our day hopping on various subways, on our way to the Sky Tree. His daughter Carol, 8, was thrilled to be going over to see it. The skytree is a huge TV tower; at 634 meters, it’s the tallest in the world. You can see it from their house in the distance, and she was excited to go to the top. I was still recovering from hanging out with George till late in the morning, catching up on all the new beer types in Japan. After a few hours wait, and a few expensive beers in the beer museum, we were ready to head on up. It’s a really great experience once you get past the millions of lines. Tokyo is such a huge city, sprawled out across a huge area. Once you’re up in the tower, you can really start to see how big it is. I’ve been there numerous times, but it’s hard to comprehend the actual size by riding on the subway.
You are so high up you can feel the tower swaying back in forth. Yvonne was looking a little whiter than her normal Irish self. So why not step up our game and go to the top level? Here we really felt the height, but still we could not see Fuji. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tokyo_Skytree
After that, we went to a gorgeous temple complex, Sensoji. This was my second time going there, and it was amazing both times. The terra cotta tile roof always blows me away. For more info check out this link. http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e3001.html
What better time for a few more beers, and a traditional Japanese meal? The food was great, and I am convinced it was because George and I were the actual chefs. Well, we worked the grill, anyway. We sat traditional style, legs crossed, and cooked various dishes— a seafood pancake, stir-fry cabbage, and a shrimp dish. The next day Yvonne and I walked along the bay, and saw signs of earthquake damage everywhere. All the railings look like they were crinkled, crushed, and stretched. Knowing how these were solid metal, it really makes you respect the force of the quake.
Our last meal had to be sushi, so we went to a great sushi place with the family. All the sushi goes around on a conveyer belt, and you pay by the plate. This is always a great experience. From my experience, American sushi is all about the special sauces, the maki rolls, different tricks and whatnot. In Japan I find it’s more about the purity of the fish, using only the highest quality fish. No tricky sauces.
Before rushing to the airport, George and I inspected all the earthquake damage from the year before. We rode bikes to one of the unfixed paths. The sidewalk literally had risen up 3 feet. You can actually see how the earth shifted; luckily it stopped right in front of someone’s house. I could only imagine what would have happened to the house if it would have continued. This damage was from the massive earthquake that caused the tsunami and nuclear disaster in 2011.
Then we were off to the airport. Now I can only say this so many times, but Japan is one of the most organized places in the world. In all the rush to get off the bus (and possibly because of all the beers with George), I left my brand-new camera on the bus. I did not notice till half an hour later. I talked to the information desk, they called up the bus company, and I had my camera back before I boarded the plane. I am convinced Japan is the only country in the world where this would have happened.
Next stop, Manila.