About a month ago we took a bike tour that included a stop at the Meiji Temple. Today we did it again. Since we are not flying home until tomorrow, we joined our fellow Princess cruisers after disembarking and took a final Tokyo tour before we headed to the airport. Disembarking a cruise ship can be a painful process, but the superb Princess organization coupled with a similar approach to life from the Japanese, meant getting off, getting our bags, going through customs, putting the bags on a truck - it all happened in no time.
Although we remembered that we had been to the Meiji Temple, we were still horribly jet lagged at the time and we noticed far more on this visit. The huge stacks of sake barrels supposedly filled with holy brew for the temple were mighty impressive. We came upon what looked like a bridal couple getting photographed and we hovered in the distance and spoke in soft voices until we understood that this was a commercial photo shoot. Very picturesque.
Then we drove down the Ginza, the most famous shopping street in Tokyo. Here you can find any high end retailer you can imagine. For the most part the buildings they were in weren't all that impressive, but the goods in the windows certainly were. I though Ken would leap out of the bus when we passed the Apple store. It was lunch time and the streets were full of salarymen looking for a place to eat. It looked like they were in uniform; without exception everyone wore white dress shirts and black pants. Some conventions are very slow to change.
The final tour stop was the Asakusa neighborhood, which is anchored by the enormous Sensoji Temple on one end and Kaminarimon Gate on the other. These two historic edifices were linked by a pedestrian mall jammed with snack food purveyors and sellers of gee gaws. It seemed like it should be a religious spot, but the god of commerce was the only one being worshipped today. The street was jammed, mostly with people that looked more local than we did. School is still in session; students only get a six week summer vacation and school groups mingled with us. The smaller students often wear colored caps that help their teachers keep track of them in the crowds. For the most part the older ones wear uniforms.
Then it was time to head to the airport. Most of our fellow cruisers had long flights ahead, but we caught a free shuttle bus that took us to a reasonably priced airport hotel. After a shower and a good night's sleep we'll be as ready as possible for the long, long trip home, which will have us landing two hours before we take off.