Friday, March 11, 2011

Japan recap

It's a bit ironic that I'm posting this right after yesterday's devastating earthquake.  I don't know anyone in the Sendai area, but my coworkers do; Sendai's sister city is Riverside, so there are lots of local connections.  It's been a crazybusy day at work.  But we're hanging in there, and I'm happy to post these images of a country that is so dear to me, with hopes that its people and land recover from this disaster as soon as humanly possible.

This past trip to Japan was a treat because it was the first time I stayed in Tokyo proper (discounting the very first time, because I didn't know any one or any thing at that time).  Here's a view from my hotel room:

[tokyo tower]

It was especially cool because my good friends live just five minutes from the hotel.  They came to welcome me the night I arrived, and I saw them again during the week.  It was nice to get to know not just Tokyo, but their neighborhood in particular.

Another new-to-me venture was going to see the Imperial Palace.  Well, we mostly saw the gardens around it (it's open to the public only twice a year).  We got as close as about a football field away from the main gate, gaurded against random entries by menacing police bikes.  It trips me out that in a developed country and one that is known for its technology, that law enforcement (and postal service) still ride bikes!

[police bikes]

Japanese food -- 'nuff said.  I was lucky to go out with different friends every night, which was super fun (but also a little exhausting, to be honest).  It was nice to have long catch-up chats and feel a lot of love and support from seemingly far-off friends.

[chicken katsu]



 Lastly, a few random shots: ume blossoms just starting out; Japanese handkerchiefs, tenugui, and furoshiki; and a crazy (to me) pedestrian crossing -- on a Saturday afternoon!




The offshore earthquake caused a huge rumbling throughout all of Japan: some reports say that the ground shook for five minutes; and here on the west coast of the U.S. we're getting tsunami warnings, too!  I got an email from a friend in the Tokyo area who said that there was significant shaking there, too, and I have yet to call my Japanese parents in the Western part of the country.  Let us continue to pray for safety and recovery for Japan.

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