We took the train to Kamakura, the capitol of Japan from 1192 to 1333. There are many shrines and temples to visit there. We walked through town and stopped at a few along the way. My son was operating the camera that day so the photos aren't the greatest.
We had lunch then caught the train to visit the Great Buddha of Kamakura. It's really pretty amazing. You can go inside the statue but I chose not to since I was already hot enough.
On Friday we went to Harajuku. It's the heart of street fashion in Tokyo. We strolled down the Takeshita-dori and looked at all the shops. Sunday is the day when kids get really dressed up and strut their stuff so there wasn't as much to see when we were there.
On Friday night the kids got picked up for their homestays. I met some other parents in Nippori to visit Tomato. This was the first time I traveled anywhere by myself and I was unduly proud of myself for getting where I needed to be on time with no mishaps.
Tomato is incredible. It's 6 stories of fabrics, notions and trims. And that's just the main store. There are several other locations within a block or two that carry home decorating, discount (100 yen/meter!), notions, buttons, etc. I got some Echino fabric which is available in the states. I just really wanted it. I also got a great two-sided linen print and some other things I haven't had a chance to photograph. It was really crowded with loud rock music playing. The guys at the cutting table were all pretty young and punk. My guy had a Bad Brains t-shirt on.
Most of the parents checked into the Shinjuku Hilton which was offering an amazing promotional rate. After sleeping on my thin mat on a hard floor for three nights, the king size bed was heaven! A large group of us ventured into Shinjuku for dinner. This is the Tokyo of movies. Neon four stories high, giant tv screens, music blaring and a sea of people.
Since we didn't have the kids with us on Saturday, four of us ventured to Ginza to experience a Tokyo department store. Ginza is well-known as an upscale shopping area. We went to Mitsukoshi Department store. Most impressive were the two floors of food. One floor was filled with candy, pastries and gift food items. There were aisles and aisles of food beautifully boxed up. Then the floor below had an immense food court. We also stopped at Uniqlo which is like the Japanese H & M. The kids had all become obsessed with a Japanese soda called CC Lemon. So the boys all got t-shirts. We also stopped at Muji which I love. It's kind of like Ikea. It's no brand, inexpensive with a great, simple design aesthetic. They have housewares, stationery, clothing, furniture, food...everything.
We also happened to luck out and stumble into the nicest little restaurant for lunch. We ate a delicious, peaceful meal. Someone suggest taking the train to Aoyama-dori and walking to check out the shops. As we strolled along I managed to spot La Drougerie and a small quilt show! Then we began what would later be known as the "Tokyo Death March." Someone in our group was studying the map and said, "I think we can walk back to Shinjuku from here." So we agreed. We ended up in Harajuku pretty quickly which gave us a false sense of confidence. We walked to the Meiji Temple and continued through the park into Yoyogi and the walked and walked and walked through a rather dull, seedy area until we landed back at the Hilton.
I need to organize more of my photos and videos. More later.