Step Five: Split Up a Whole Day into Two Posts and See if Anyone Notices.

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As we made our way back to Harajuko station, my cousin and I were greeted along our path by a beautiful display of luminaries and projected light.

I am stealing this idea for my Pinterest board.

I am stealing this idea for my Pinterest board.

There was a number of flower light projections all down the path.

There was a number of flower light projections all down the path.

 

Warning: Luminaries may be able to see into the depths of your soul.

Warning: Luminaries may be able to see into the depths of your soul.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All of which lead us to a spectacular performance of Kabuki Theater.

Even without knowing what was going on, it was pretty cool to watch.

Even without knowing what was going on, it was pretty cool to watch.

Some of the traditional performers from Tōhoku region.

Some of the traditional performers from Tōhoku region.

As we marveled at the production in front of us, wondering at what cultural heritage event we had stumbled upon, an older gentleman behind us took pity on these two clueless Americans. In halting English, and with many hand gestures, he explained that these performers were actually from Fukushima. All in all, the whole production appeared to be a very big “To Do”, with many people enjoying the rare chance to see the Meiji Shrine and its park after dark.

Oh! Candid Shot!

Oh! Candid Shot!

And why, you ask, was this entire event going on? Well, it wasn’t until after the fact that we realized we’d stumbled into the beginnings of the 100th anniversary of the Empress Shoken’s passing.

But we had made dinner plans already, and we needed to scurry on to Shinjuku and the tasty yakiniku hiding there.
As you can see, there was much tastiness to be had.

The meat- It was plentiful.

The meat- It was plentiful.

I even tried my hand at manning the grill!

Actually we did almost smoke the place out, but not while I was manning the grill.

On this edition of Cooking with Kate, there is the possibility of everything catching on fire.

Once stuffed full of tasty meaty goodness, we ventured out to find a nightcap. I now regret to say that we did not have the time or inclination to wait for a spot in the Robot Restaurant, but we can all at least sleep happier knowing that a place like this exists in the world. Instead we found a small, hole-in-the-wall cigar bar, where the main table actually wrapped around the piano, and everything was served in crystal.

That's a 12 year McClelland single malt there, in case anyone cares.

That’s a 12 year McClelland single malt there, in case anyone cares.

It was pretty fantastic.

I had spent a wonderful day, out and about, but the most surreal moment had yet to occur. As we took our train home, I experienced the crush of the late night crowd, and maneuvered my way to grab a much-coveted seat. I may have even joined my fellow commuters in fighting off the inevitable urge to doze off once sitting. Once exiting the train, I immediately found myself naturally heading up the left side of the stairs with the rest of the crowd, without even being prompted. With them, I watched in a detached state, as two inebriated salary men began shoving and punching each other on the stair landing.

I continued on my way out of the station and into the slight drizzle; a realization finally starting to bloom in the back of my mind:

“Huh. I’m in Japan.”

The trains are pretty wonderful to watch.

The trains are pretty wonderful to watch.

Step Four: I Wonder if I Should Continue to Title These Posts With Progressive Step Numbers

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Once again the sun rose, as it usually does, over Ōme. Let us take a small break from my narrative to show you a quick view of the neighborhood.

Early Morning Tokyo Suburbia

Early Morning Tokyo Suburbia

 

Yes, the streets are about one car width wide.

Yes, the streets are about one and 1/2 car widths wide.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

OK, now that we have gotten ourselves a bit more oriented, let us continue.

Today’s first outing involved (SURPRISE!) food. (If you are not sensing a theme in these posts, then I’m guessing you have just been looking at the pictures.) We cruised on down to Sukiya for gyūdon, which is basically a beef rice bowl: Cheap, tasty, filling.

Drive By Gyūdon!

Drive By Gyūdon!

I continued to notice throughout my venture that many of the menus remind me of the back of a Waffle House menu; there are lots of colorful pictures, and all you have to do is point and smile to order.

Fortified with rice, beef, and another cup of endless tea (it’s like I’m in Japan or something, geez!) Nathan and I set off to board the Chūō line, connecting with the Yamanote line for Harajuku station. Putting the Harajuku spectacles for a later date, we ventured over to Meiji Shrine for some “culture and learning”. According to the internet, Meiji Shrine is a Shinto Shrine originally completed in the 1920’s, and reconstructed in the late 1950’s after suffering damage in WWII.

What I saw was a whole bunch of really awesome nature, some cool old buildings, and a whole bunch of people “really feeling it all.”

Feel the Awe and Glory and Various Other Things that this image inspires.

Feel the Awe and Glory and Various Other Things that this image inspires.

And a GIANT wall of sake barrels

I may have contemplated how long it would take a normal human being to consume all the sake that could fill these barrels.

I may have contemplated how long it would take a normal human being to consume all the sake that could fill these barrels.

As we wandered the paths and checked out the courtyard of the shrine, I had hoped to have the big, bubbly, excited reaction to the realization that I was ACTUALLY IN JAPAN finally kick in.

Everyone setting up for something.... Wonder what it could be?

Appears they are setting up for something…. Wonder what it could be?

So many prayers, in so many languages.

So many prayers, in so many languages.

Here I was surrounded by all of these culturally significant examples, and instead I was feeling very calm and at peace. Which looking back at it all, I WAS at a temple, so perhaps that reaction was appropriate after all.

Purification fountain, if you are into that sort of thing.

Purification fountain, if you are into that sort of thing.

Venturing further , we came to Homotsuden, the Treasury Museum, and an open park area.

Rounded a turn in the path, only to be greeted with this sight.

Rounded a turn in the path, only to be greeted with this sight.

This was the view from the other side of the bridge.

This was the view from the other side of the bridge.

Alas, the Museum was closed

I guess I'll just have to put this on the "return trip" list.

I guess I’ll just have to put this on the “return trip” list.

So we headed back to our entrance by the Harajuku station, to our next destination (and future post), Shinjuku.

Something old and something new.

Something old and something new.