Japan 2004

In May 2004, I had the opportunity to travel to Tokyo for the annual Central Bankers' Workshop on Macromodeling. I decided it only made sense to take a bit of time to see what things are like in Japan. My trip took me from Tokyo to Takayama, Kyoto and Nara. Here is a selection of photos.

1. Sushi chef preparing breakfast in restaurant around the corner from the Fish Market . The Japanese are invariably polite and helpful. This guy didn’t mind at all my taking his picture. Wednesday, May 26, 2004 at about 6:00 a.m.

2. The restaurant from the outside. Just above the door, almost completely out of the picture is a window with the tiniest balcony. The balcony is used to hang laundry. This is apparently typical of apartments all over Tokyo. Sushi, by the way, is surprisingly good for breakfast, although I would replace the green tea with Starbucks.

3. Bikes parked on the street. Bikes are a very common mode of transportation; always straightforward one-speed bikes like these ones. The remarkable thing is that they are never locked. Crime rates in Tokyo, although rising, are very low. It is a very safe city in all respects. Wednesday, May 26, 2004.

4. Nijubashi Bridge with moat and the Imperial Palace in the background. This is as close to the Palace as we plebe tourists could get. Lots of tour buses full of Japanese students would come and get their pictures taken here, some as full classes, others in small groups decked out in kimonos and whatnot. Wednesday, May 26, 2004 at about 7:00 a.m.

5. Fortified walls, moat and guard house protecting Chiyoda-Ku, the “island” upon which is the Imperial Palace.

6. Irises and Azaleas in the Higashi Gyoen. A quick tour around here makes you realize that the Japanese love of gardens is not just peculiar to those Japanese tourists visiting Buchart Gardens in Victoria, B.C. They were there in force this day; it was hard to get a decent picture.

7. Fish merchants on the food floor of a Japanese department store. The floor here was huge, filled with all kinds of goods, especially fish, but including enormous varieties of Japanese and foreign deserts. I bought some food here that looked kind of like a stir fry and enjoyed it for lunch with Kirin beer back at the hotel—even though it was cold. I think it was supposed to be eaten cold. It’s an inexpensive way to eat and fun too, if exhausting. I had a nice nap afterwards. Wednesday, May 26, 2004 at about 11:00 a.m..

8. My room in the Sumiyoshi ryokan in Takayama, shortly after arrival. They had yet to completely clear away my welcoming green Japanese tea. Saturday, May 29.

9. Roofs of the shrine with a Torii in the foreground in Takayama. I thought the multi-tiered look of these roofs was cool. For some reason, I didn’t take any photos of the historic Old Private Houses within which most the dozens of boutiques in Takayama are located. Too bad.

10. The waiting room outside the shared bathroom in the ryokan. Notice the sink (one of three) to the left. The centerpiece of the room is a Samurai suit of armor.

11. Tuesday, June 1, 2004. Kinkakuji Temple (the golden pavilion) was originally built in the 14 th century as the retirement villa of a Shogun. It has three levels with three distinct architectures. The first represents the samurai class, the second the noble class and the third is the place of worship and represents the Shogun class. It burned down several times; this particular rendition only dates back to 1950. The top two levels are completely done in gold leaf so it was very, very expensive to rebuild.

24 .This stone pagoda is at the location of the golden pavilion and represented a holy site to the previous occupants of the land before the Shogun built his retirement villa. Although the Shogun built his pavilion to impress everyone with his overarching power and wealth, he was smart enough to leave this holy stone. To have removed it would have been to invite bad luck. The stone dates back to the 13 th century.

26. Nara Park in general and Todaiji Temple in particular were overrun this day by school groups and wild deer. Here some school girls play with one of the deer which, as must be obvious, are very tame. They are smaller than North American deer, and wander into the makeshift tea gardens and shops that line the paths in the park.

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