As a fantastic bonus for showing up at school for the orientation (well, and as one of the planned activities) we were herded onto four buses and driven down to the port so we could take a cruise up the Sumida river to Asakusa. The river was beautiful and possibly slightly cooler than the rest of the city, and I started talking with a couple of people from my bus (Japanese natives taking the non-Japanese classes for summer credit). We arrived in Asakusa and they gave us the option of sticking with the tour or heading off on our own. I stuck with them for about 15 minutes, until I couldn't stand hearing one more word that I already know about temples and fortunes and the whole shuffle-shuffle-snap picture-shuffle process of being in a group on a tour. Not that it's not interesting, but I think there's one generic spiel about the functions of temples, how to cleanse yourself, how people gift their prayers, and I heard it three or four times last time I was here. I want to get a religious specialist to come with me someday and tell me about each temple's distinctive personality, but until then I'd rather walk through the temples and the stalls of food and touristy things (Mom, I got one of your requests already!) on my own. That's how I found the Buddhas at the end of the first set of photos.
After that I took myself home and managed to save some money not taking the train all the way back from the school. Talked to my darling man on the interwebs (much better access this year) and got ready to get up at an ungodly hour in the morning.
My pictures of the bridges were, frankly, less than thrilling compared to how pretty they were in person, so I cut out the best parts and you're seeing them here.
The top eaves of Asakusa Temple (the Buddhist side) through the trees
the tallest tower in the temple complex
(some of you may remember this thing from last time, but I didn't get a good shot of it then and I'm pleased with this one)
the first Buddha in a little side-shrine next to the temple
the second Buddha
(and I think, for sure, my favorite. Ever. he's absolutely beautiful)
Today was more exciting for me but less exciting to read about, since classes probably aren't interesting unless you're actually in them. Japanese looks like it's going to be great, and my literature of Tokyo class is going to be fantastic - a smart woman from University of Washington is teaching. When she heard about my major interests she promptly gave me the name of someone on their faculty who does a cyberpunk class. Yippee for making connections in Tokyo! While sitting around / having lunch / etc I also managed to read the book we're reading last in the class, so I'm already ahead of schedule on day one. And I may have a class buddy or two - there are three really sweet German students, two of whom are in my Japanese class, and then one in my lit class, and we talked a bunch today.
I decided to spend another hour or so walking around my neighborhood instead of freezing this evening while watching a Noh play (school activity, yay). Every time I ride the train back to my stop I see these pretty flower streamers hung up on the north side of streets leading away from the train station, so I decided to follow them. Turns out there's a little shopping district down there with more bookstores, cds, kimonos, groceries, and everything else that seems to be found on every other corner here, but I had a lovely time and took a couple of pictures worth sharing.
This is a little neighborhood shrine - it's sandwiched on a slow street in between a hair dresser and a magazine / bookstore. Part of the reason why I love Japan - it's just right there amidst everything else. But it's also not something people expect you to bow and scrape to.
from the other side of the tracks - the street decorated with little flower streamers that originally caught my eye from the window in the train station
finally, a neighborhood garden path - it goes to someone's front door, and ... these are the wonderful things about Tokyo streets. You'll be walking along and suddenly turn to see a little delight of the eye like this
and finally, since *someone who shall not be named* yelled at me for using photos from last year as my Japan icons, I have a couple of new icons from the things I'm posting today... *neener, neener, neener* ;)