Some Tuesday Thoughts….

Some random thoughts for this Tuesday, as well as some pictures from all over Tokyo so far.

(Below: the 5 story pagoda at Senso-ji)

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Thought 1: Today (that is Tuesday, 4/29) started the first holiday of Golden Week and therefore, I had the day off and started the morning with a jog around the Imperial Palace. Can I just take a minute to say how crazy that sounds?! A week and a half ago I was running the Elliot Bay trail, now I’m running around a palace, that an emperor actually lives in. Sometimes, it doesn’t seem real. 

Speaking of the emperor, I forgot to mention, that I actually saw him (within 20 feet or so)! There were about 30 ish people that had all lined up and I was a little confused by what was going on (in a sunshine haze). Then a car drove by with the window down (!) with this cute little old man waving and smiling. Everyone was so excited about it but in a very polite and respectful way. When I got back to my apartment I googled him and confirmed that it was in fact the emperor! Kind of a big deal.

I can only think what would have happened if that had been in America and it was Obama or any other president or public figure.

(Below: wisteria at Gotokuji temple)

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Thought 2: After lunch in Omotesando on Sunday, we were walking and my fellow trekker from Dallas was going to take me to the start of the main drag on Omotesando. We were chatting along the way when we were stopped by two teenage girls that asked to take a picture. Instinctively, we thought they wanted us to take a picture of them BUT really they wanted a picture with us, two American girls. Naturally, the teenage girls directed the conversation to Taylor Swift and Justin Bieber.

Teenager 1: “Do you know Taylor Swift?”

Me: “Oh yeah!”

Teenager 1&2: “Oooooooo. That’s so cool”

Me: “Well I should clarify that I don’t know her personally, I just know her music.”

I didn’t want to lead them to believe I had superstar connections. Turns out one of them had actually met Justin Bieber in the Narita airport and showed us the photo to prove it. Teenagers are the best and I know full well, I used to be just like that.

(Below: our office building in Tokyo)

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Thought 3: I’ve been going to a lot of Temples and Shrines. I enjoy going to them because the grounds/gardens are generally beautiful and well maintained and the ones that aren’t on the ‘if you don’t see it while you are in Tokyo then what did you come here for’ list are quite peaceful. The architecture is also something to be admired, especially when considered how old most of them are even considering any reconstruction. However, the spiritual aspect of it all is very confusing to me. Oftentimes, I find myself praying to God and thanking him for always being available no matter where I am. He knows my thoughts, wishes and dreams already, I don’t need a 100 yen coin to have them come true or give me luck. God’s got it all under control, and thank goodness for that…. or I would have been broke a long time ago.

(Below: railing at the Imperial Palace)

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Thought 4: My mom is coming!!! I tried to be “level-headed, reasonable, big girl Ally” and told my parents it wasn’t a big deal if they couldn’t make the trip, because it’s far and suuuper expensive.  But I am SO happy that I get to see at least one them in just under a month! It’s going to be the perfect break between getting here, one of my best friends coming, and heading home.

(Below: Bamboo at the East Garden)

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Final Thought: Also, if you’re on instagram, I’ve been posting some different things there every so often. I should mention, I only ‘accept’ people I know. No creepers allowed.

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Starting to Settle In

The weather here has been out of this world awesome. 70 and Sunny. Pretty much my perfection. I know come early June, it gets quite humid so I am soaking up this spring time sunshine while I can. That being said, I have tried to be outside as much as possible this weekend. I’d say it was a success.

Saturday, I walked to the East Garden of the Imperial Palace. It ended up being a little further than I had expected but with the sun shining, I couldn’t have been happier, although by the end of the day, my feet probably would have said otherwise!

The palace is amongst the high rises and skyscrapers. It’s quite the vivid dichotomy of the past and present.

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I spent an hour or so just laying on the lawn of the East Garden. It was glorious.

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The trees and plants here are such a vibrant shade of green, it almost doesn’t seem real.

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Really, ALL the plants and flowers have the most vibrant, saturated colors.  I should note although it may be obvious, I don’t really edit my photos because that would require a skill set I don’t have, so these colors aren’t enhanced. What you see here is pretty darn close to reality and it’s amazing.

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The walls of the palace are massive and quite a feat of engineering and architecture as they have been standing since the 1600’s.

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Today, I went around with a fellow trekker, who had just ended her rotation, to Gotokuji Temple, also known as the “cat temple.” It was obvious that I had to go. While it’s known for all the cat statues (see below), the grounds are equally impressive, so serene and expansive.

_DSC0564This cat, “Maneki Neko,” is said to bring luck. Really, I just think its cute.

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CATS! CATS! CATS!
_DSC0574From there we grabbed lunch in Omotesando with a beautiful view.

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The main street of Omotesando is often referred to as the Champ d’Elysees of Tokyo. This was the first time I felt crowded and slightly overwhelmed by the amount of people that live here. There were so. many. people.

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I ended today in Harajuku and walked down Yakeshita Street, also very crowded. It’s where a lot of the “eclectic” people shop BUT they have shops that only sell socks and for that, I’ll be going back.

IMG_1801I have a lot more to share but I’ve reached the limit of most attention spans with this long one so, I’ll try to share more tomorrow or Tuesday.

Tokyo Time!

As most of you know by now, I have just started a 3 month rotation to work out of our Tokyo office. It’s a program called “Tax Trek” and it sounds so nerdy but accountant folks think it sounds cool and adventurous and now we are all on the same page if I ever refer to this trip as a “trek.”

So here I am in Tokyo. Jet lag has been pretty exhausting, I thought I was doing pretty well after have a full first day, but now it’s 5:30 PM Monday as a I write this and I really want to go to bed now.

On Sunday, I was lucky enough to have one of my good friends from Seattle vacationing in Tokyo and we were able to spend the day together. It was so nice to see a familiar face on my first day out and about in Tokyo. We spent much of the day in the Ueno district and surrounding areas.

Yushima-Tenjin Shrine is located near the University of Tokyo. This is where many hopeful students go to write a prayer/wish that they will get into the university.

Yushima-Tenjin Shrine

You can make your prayer known through writing it on a wooden block that gets tied outside the shrine.

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I am amazed by the attention and exactness to every detail, even the light fixtures.

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Unbeknownst to me, the Japanese climate can grow outrageously beautiful and HUGE peonies. This one in particular is outside the Iwasaki’s (Mitsubishi’s founder) former residence.

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Akihabara is the electronics mecca with multiple stores at least 7 stories high and packed full. And of course, Anime.

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Today I ventured out on my own, after having a sushi lunch with a fellow ‘trekker’ and co-worker from the Tokyo office, I spent some time in Shinjuku, specifically the Shinjuku Gyoen Gardens that was once a Feudal Lord’s residence, transferred to the Imperial family in the early 1900’s, destroyed during WWII and rebuilt as a public park.

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The last of the cherry blossoms in the park. I wish I could have caught them in full bloom but was glad to have been able to experience them at least a little bit.

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First day in the office tomorrow, wish me luck!