Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Japan, Part 1: Tokyo

11/5/15 Shinjuku Gyoen Garden with the NTT DoCoMo
Tower behind it.
When we left Seattle on Nov. 3, it still looked and felt like fall here. When we landed at SeaTac airport Sunday morning, the temperature was in the high 30s, and the weatherman was talking about snow – suddenly it’s winter. In between, we spent 19 days in Japan – filled with both sunshine and rain; amazing sights as well as disappointments; spectacular food and head colds for both of us. It’s been an unforgettable journey, and I have an epic series of blog posts planned (hopefully two per day so I can get up to the present quickly)!

The first leg of our trip was spent in Tokyo, Japan’s largest city and the place most first-time visitors see when they go to Japan. Ironically, although we’ve been to Japan four times, we’d hardly spent any time in Tokyo previously, so this was our first opportunity to become better acquainted with this world-class city.

Splitting our Tokyo week into two parts (with a night at Mt. Fuji in between), the first half we stayed in the Shinjuku neighborhood – filled with skyscrapers and the busiest train station in the world. Although it’s often pictured as a dazzling, dizzying over-stimulation of neon and an overwhelming crush of people, Shinjuku didn’t strike me that way. It was definitely crowded and bright, but the sidewalks are wide, and streets are laid out in orderly grids. This is not to say we didn’t get lost – Google’s pedestrian directions sometimes spun us around multiple times per trip – but the efficient subway system and the kindness of passers-by kept us going in the directions we wanted to go.

11/6/15 Shinjuku Station's southern entrance and its multiple escalators
and stairways.
The second half of our Tokyo stay was in the older Asakusa neighborhood. We spent a whole day at nearby Ueno Park, where I made some of my favorite sketches of the trip, but I’m saving those for a separate post. I’ll also have a separate post about my day with Urban Sketchers Tokyo, a highlight of our visit. So as an introduction to my series, here are a few sketches from Shinjuku and Asakusa.

11/10/15 power pole in Asakusa
11/11/15 Tokyo Sky Tree Tower behind statue at
Sensoji Temple

11/5/15 Part of the Shinjuku skyline as seen from our hotel window.
Mandatory selfie at Sensoji Temple.

1 comment:

  1. Welcome home!!! I followed a lot of your trip but I'm sure now that you are home your posts about the trip will contain all sorts of great info and more sketches than I probably saw. These are great sketches. I like that one from your hotel window and the one of the power lines. It is funny that we can travel so far across the world and see such similar views...escalators with lots of people, power lines, and towers above the city. Places are similar in some ways and so different in others.


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