Thursday, June 14, 2007

Weekend in Tokyo

Less than a week after returning from my epic journey I was back at the airport! This time it was my first opportunity to fly out of our local puddle jumper airport, Komatsu International. I was going to Tokyo to visit Sachiko, but rather than take the four hour train ride I opted for the slightly more expensive but much faster 1 hour flight. Please notice that the hop from Ishikawa to Tokyo was in a FULL 747. Thats a lot of people flying into Tokyo! In fact, Tokyo Haneda Airport, which almost exclusivly serves the domestic market in Japan sees the most passengers of any airport in Asia, and was the fourth busiest passenger airport in the world for 2006. And this is in a nation with an excellent (and highly used) high speed rail system. Wow.

Well after a quick bite to eat on the observation deck (do American airports even HAVE observation decks anymore?) we headed to the most controversial shrine in Japan. Yasukuni Shrine was built in 1869 to honor Japanese war dead. So far so good, but after World War II a gaggle of war criminals, including Hideki Tojo were added to the list of those honored dead. This is why Korea and China get angry every time the Prime Minister visits. The shrine has also become a bit of a hot spot for the far right imperialists who think the good old days ended in 1945. We still had fun though, as the place really is beautiful, and we got to see a High School Sumo team that was wandering about. Also, I got to see a Zero, which as a military hardware nut made me happy.

The locomotive on display actually used to run on the Nanao line here in Ishikawa prefecture, but was used on the Thailand-Burma railroad, aka the Death Railway (You know, the Bridge on the River Kwai railway.) The display of such a relic with no context of the suffering dealt out on that railway is a bit of an indication of the degree of remorse felt by those running the Yasukuni museum. We didn't bother paying to get into the main part of the museum. It's \800 and I didn't feel like lineing their pockets. Nice Zero though.

We spent the rest of the day hanging out and shopping, and then saw Spiderman 3, which was merely OK, but not too fantastic. The next day Sachiko had to work, so I was left to my own devices. I tracked down the Nikon service center in Shinjuku and had my camera cleaned, so no more photoshopping out dust spots. I then headed to Tokyo Tower, as I had never actually bothered to see it up close before.

The sunset really was quite fantastic, but the place was really crowded. I went to the top of Nagoya tower several times, and it was rarely that busy, but Tokyo Tower was packed. I guess thats what happens when you have an urban area of 12 million people compared to the 2.7 million in Nagoya!

I managed to put together these two HDR images, I especially like the first one, its kinda creepy, in a post-apocalyptic sort of way.

I flew out early Monday morning, so I could be back at work by noon. I have to add in that for domestic travel, its hard to beat Japan. It was seriously easy, with automatic check in and no massive security lines. I guess I've just been traveling internationally for so long that I had forgotten how easy it can be to fly domestically, or maybe it's just a lot easier in Japan than it is in the overly paranoid States.


jalexissmith said...

no pics of the gf, grantipoo???

sam said...

It's easier in Japan.

When I flew back from Mexico City to Denver (via Houston), they breezed us through the main airport security (the guy asked me politely not to bother to take my shoes off), but then at the gate, before boarding, they opened and looked in everyone's carryon luggage, and I got patted down and wanded--the procedure for all flights to the US, apparently.

Then I arrived in Houston, breezed through immigration and customs, and then got stuck in a godawful standard US domestic security line (since checked baggage had to be picked up and then rechecked). The TSA people were literally yelling at people. It took a lot longer than immigration or customs, and it was meaner.

also, yeah, no photos of the two of you?