9/2/10 - Sightseeing with the Endos

As I mentioned for August 28, a master’s student at UNT, Shino Endo, was kind enough to ask her Tokyo-based parents to take care of me.  Naoki and Keiko Endo generously spent all day Thursday sightseeing with me.  In the morning, Keiko Endo picked me up at my hotel and we went to Harajuku.  For the first hour or two, a colleague, Keren Solomon, accompanied us.  Keiko Endo’s English was limited and my Japanese was nonexistent, but we both had bilingual dictionaries with us and somehow it worked!  Gestures and pictures can do wonders.

In Harajuku, we looked at the stores, some of which catered to the cosplay look for high school girls.  Keren and I bought some things at an inexpensive store that Keiko Endo introduced us to – I got hairbands for my niece and some food items.  

Then Keiko Endo showed us a local shrine and we had the amazing luck of seeing a bride and groom in traditional costume.       

Next, Keiko Endo and I went to Meiji Jingu, a park containing a Shinto shrine dedicated to Emperor Meiji and his wife.  (Keren left due to other commitments.)  The park was peaceful and green, a striking contrast to the city, and it had a lovely garden.  Here we saw another wedding couple in traditional finery!

After that, we went to meet Naoki Endo in Asakusa.  We had lunch that included a fabulous food I’d never had – eel with scrambled eggs.

Naoki Endo had been so kind as to take a half day off work to go sight-seeing with me.  He and his wife showed me around Asakusa, which features the Sensō-ji, a Buddhist temple.  While Meiji Jingu was quiet and contemplative, Sensō-ji was a highly social place, filled with visitors.

The Endos also showed me around Ueno, where Tokyo’s major museums are located.  We went for a pleasant walk around a pond.

The day concluded with an amazing finale.  We went to a restaurant at the top of a tall building in Shinjuku (near Tokyo City Hall), I think about the 55th floor.  So as we were dining, we had a beautiful view of the city spread out in front of us.  I have always loved views like this – they speak me at a deep level.  On top of that, the Endos ordered so many special foods, ranging from sashimi to interesting vegetables to prawns grilled on a portable stove.  A wonderful memory of Tokyo to take with me!  I am really so grateful to the Endos, and to Shino for generously making the connection.

(These two pictures courtesy of the Endos)