Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Tokyo Sightseeing Tour - Our First MWR Tour

The boys and I went on our very first tour in Japan. MWR (Morale, Welfare, & Recreation) here on the base gives an awesome list of tours every month. There is at least two tours every weekend if not more. They make the tours very affordable and comfortable. We all boarded the bus at 7:30 a.m. This is a picture out the bus window of the Ginza area of Tokyo. Ginza is known for its upscale shopping. You can find Cartier, Chanel, etc. here. Ginza is also known for its glitter at night. Brian and I are taking an adults only, nightlife tour this Saturday. He will be back and I will be HAPPY!! We didn't stop for any shopping at Ginza this trip. Our first stop was at Tokyo Tower, yes that is that big orange and white steel tower in this picture. The first white part from the ground is the first observatory. We went there. We didn't have time to go to the second observatory. Since it's opening in 1958, the Tokyo Tower has been the world's tallest self-supporting steel tower at 333m. The Eiffel Tower in Paris is 320m high. The Tower weighs about 4,000 tons. It is much lighter than the Eiffel Tower which weighs 7,000 tons; due to advances in steel mfg. and const. technology. Paint used for the Tower was 28,000 liters; equal to 140 drums. It is painted white and orange to adhere to aviation safety standards. There are 14 broadcasting signals for nine TV stations and five FM radio stations. 176 floodlights installed in various parts light up the Tower. It is illuminated with an orange light in winter and white incandescent light in summer. The main observatory is at 150m and you can enjoy a 360 degree view of the whole Kanto Region surrounding Tokyo. The special observatory at 250m is on the top floor of the tower. You can see as far as Mt. Fuji. What we saw was endless city as far as our eyes could see in all directions. Then the bus headed over to the Imperial Palace. You can't go inside the gates of the Palace, but you can tour the outside and the East Garden. We were able to take some beautiful pictures. The Palace grounds are entirely surrounded by a Moat. It was very peaceful and almost surreal in the middle of Tokyo. The sitting Emperor is the 125th Emperor of Japan. He and his family live in the Imperial Palace. Like England they are there for ceremonial purposes. After World War II the Emperor lost all ruling capabilities. The Emperor's first-born son will be the 126th Emperor. THEN that son does not have a son. He has a daughter. The second son has a son. So, Japan has not decided for the 127th Emperor if it will be a girl or they will appoint the 2nd son's son. Interesting. I have seen a picture and they are all beautiful people. It was very relaxing walking around the grounds and we enjoyed it immensely. The weather was perfect. It was light sweater weather with no wind. Oh, the Emperor can only be seen by the public twice per year. Once on his birthday and once for New Year's he comes out to wave to the crowds. Once we left the Imperial Palace we went to the Sensoji Temple which is the oldest Temple in the Tokyo area. It was a very bustling area with a full shopping street on the way down the road to the temple. They call this the Nakamise Shopping Street. We had one military fellow in our orientation class that remarked wherever he had been around the world, "there's lots of shopping around the temples". I was able to snap a picture of two girls and their Father and Mother. The girls were on a ceremonial trip to the shrine. They go to get a special blessing for ages 3 and 7. For boys, they go at age 5. I was told that this comes from when there was a great Flu outbreak and many, many children died. The girls are beautifully made up for the occasion. I will explain more about shrines in a different post.

When we left the shrine we headed over to board the River Cruise. We boarded the boat pictured. It had a see-through roof so that you could look up and see all the Tokyo tall buildings. It was a very pleasant, but crowded boat tour. There are lots and lots of bridges across the river and they are all very different, so they spoke about the bridges. The Cruise took us to Pallet Town which is a touristy destination with an amusement park, a fabulous Mall with very affluent shopping and a Toyota car showcase for the men. The Mall was called Venus Fort and it was fabulous!! I was able to purchase some bling for my cell phone. Everyone here has things dangling from cell phones so that you can tell who's it who's. I have a strap that hangs from mine with Hello Kitty face, SHERRY in Rhinestones, and a heart on the end. It was $25.00, but I LOVE IT!! It was very funny to explain the word "BLING" to the guy who sold it to me. He liked the word!! If you have ever been to the hotel "PARIS" in Las Vegas, that is what the inside of the mall looked like. The picture is of the water fountain in the upstairs center of the mall.

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