This is lavender, kicking you in the face!

Today, I have had two cups of the most delicious white tea, lavender flavored. This is very aggressive lavender. Picture a surprisingly delicate flower grabbing you by the shoulders, giving you a good shake, and shouting, “You will re-LAX!” It makes for quite a delectable, albeit slightly aggressive, cup.

This, btw, is probably the most productive thing I’ve done all day. It was a full-blown pajama day today, under the dubious guise of fending off a non-existent head cold. Hey, I was sneezed on four days ago. It makes total sense!

Yesterday, was much more chock-a-block with activities. I went on a Tokyo venture; specifically, to the Tsukijii Fish Market and Asakusa, an old Edo-type of place. [Frommer’s Fast Fact! Edo was renamed Tokyo by Emperor Meiji in 1868 after moving the capital from Kyoto to Edo/Tokyo.]

This fish market is listed as a “must-see” in the guidebook. Mmmm, I would have to disagree. It was cool and I loved the various ways of transport such as rickshaw carts and standing golf-carts steered with barrel, hatch-like steering wheels. But, it was definitely a very busy market where there was business to be done. And the business was not catering to tourists. I think part of the problem was I didn’t have anyone to wander around with, all slack-jawed and awestruck. This is definitely heightened by the fact that until 3 days ago, I had the best travel buddy ever! Although I like going to places by myself, I also like seeing things with other people, especially when I feel VERY conspicuous.

So, overall, a place to see but not high on my own TTD (Tokyo To Do) list. I would vote for Pike’s Market in Seattle as a place to visit, tourist-style.

The day improved with the Hama Rikyu garden and the Sumida River cruise. The garden is organized around Tokyo’s only tide-fed ponds, complete with sluice gates. The meadows and landscaping are pretty. I can’t wait to go back when all the flowers are in bloom! Another neat thing about the park is that it used to be used by the imperial family in the Edo era for leisure purposes, to include duck hunting. They hunted ducks with nets, after luring them close to duck blinds by dispersing grain. In November 1935, a little grave was built to appease the spirits of all the dead ducks. I thought it was cute, a little “Ooops, sorry about that. No hard feelings?”

The river cruise was great. It was 40 minutes long. We went under 13 bridges, all with a unique design. I looked up a few times to admire the undersides in tribute to one of Jon’s friends who’s a civil engineer and says that’s his favorite part of the bridge. I tend to admire rudimentary aesthetics, but I was trying to think a little differently. I also took a little catnap. The sunlight through the glass roof required it!

Asakusa had a really nice, understated vibe to it, “Yup, historical sight. Check.” Even Nakamise-dori, full of souvenir stands, was actually a lot of fun rather than completely tacky and out of place. The sights to see include the Kaminarimon gate, the Sensoji temple complex (dedicated to Kannon, the Buddhist goddess of mercy), and the little Chingodo shrine (dedicated to the guardian against fires). The Chingodo shrine had its statue covered in little crocheted red New Year’s hats, which I think is hilarious. I think I will start to dress up my religious statues. Once I get some.

After looking around Senjoji temple, which was entirely destroyed in the WWII bombings with the exception of the Asakusa-jinya shrine near the back of the complex, I walked to the Kappabashi Dori. Here, there are a lot of shops focussing on the needs of professional kitchens- the equipment, furniture, appliances. Best of all, there are little shops focusing on the all-important plastic food. Which is not cheap! It’s handmade to look especially delicious. Many restaurants in Japan have little plastic food display cases on the sidewalks outside their restaurants. I didn’t realize they probably shell out about $1000 (equiv) for a medium sized display case! (Oh, the things that impress me.)

Ok, back to my lazy day, now evening. Tomorrow, I’m going to head to Kamakura to see the big sitting Buddha.

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