Friday, December 26, 2008

Chinatown, Part 1

Ok sports fans, I'm back! Lee uploaded the pictures from our trip onto the computer so now I can blog about 'em. Hope you all had a great Christmas! I'd post pictures from us opening up presents here, but a.) I had bad hair in the pics and b.) I'm pretty sure you'll find this more interesting :p

So anyway, we did Disneyland the day after we arrived in mainland Japan, then kinda took a day off to just sit around and watch movies because we are old, our feet hurt, and I was still getting over my cold and Lee was trying not to get it. So then on Sunday (the 21st if you're counting) we did a tour up to Yokohama, which I've found out is just south of Tokyo proper but it's one of those things where the whole area is completely urbanized so it's kinda like one big huge city. Our first stop was to a rest area that had this huge parking lot full of very impressive and expensive sports cars; Lee got out and took pictures but I'm not going to post those because a.) I don't know anything about cars, much less fancy sports cars, b.) I don't think posting car pictures will entice more guys to read this blog, despite what Lee says, and c.) our next stop was more interesting. What was it, you ask?

Chinatown. Yep, we go to mainland Japan to go to *Chinatown*. This is one of the biggest Chinatown areas in the world (except for maybe all those towns that are *in* China, I'm just guessing here) but it was really cool. Kind of an assault on the senses though--so much to look at, noisy, and lots of restaurants packed into a small area so you could smell lunch wherever you went. We got these steamed pork buns that were surprisingly least I'm going to say they were steamed pork buns because if they were something weird I don't want to know...oh wait, you wanna see pictures, right? Ok.

Our tour guide gave us a map but it doesn't have much on it besides the locations of the gates all around the area, and this is the first one we went through. (Click the picture to see a larger version of it.) I think we saw three gates as we walked around but they've got ten, and each one is just amazing with all the carving and the colors and I just wish we could have gotten some good close-up shots but we didn't want to stand in the middle of the street to do it :)

Hey look! Even the cars in Chinatown are happy!!

I just thought this sign was kind of amusing, Coke is everywhere. There's vending machines on practically every street corner (I think I read in a guide book that there's like two million vending machines in Tokyo alone) and just about all of them sell Coke. But enough about that, let's get on to the really cool pictures...

There are two large temples in Yokohama's Chinatown and we went to both. These pictures were taken at Kantei-byo, which is a shrine dedicated to Guan Yu or Kanwu, an ancient Chinese warrior who is, for some reason, also seen as a god of business. Supposedly the historical Guan Yu was an expert in accounting so this one's for you, Dad! (If you're confused, let me explain: my dad is an accountant. I even know how to say "I am the number one accountant!" in Japanese. I can't say "Where's the bathroom?" but I can say that.) Anyway, this is the front of the temple after you go through the gate (we couldn't get a great picture of the front gate due to all the power lines in the way).

Closeup shot of one of the dragons adorning the very top of the temple.

Here's the dragon from the other side...I think in these closeup shots you can better appreciate the artistry that goes into this building, it's just amazing. The little mappy thing we got said this is the fourth shrine built on the site since the 1800s.

Another dragon from a different part of the temple. I keep thinking that part right above his eyes looks like sunglasses. I'm just amazed at all the vivid colors on here and all the little details.

You knew I was going to post at least one shisa picture, right? :) This one and his mate are sitting in the shrine's forecourt. Shisa are actually Chinese, but there's such a pronounced Chinese influence on Okinawa that you see them everywhere. I didn't see as many around mainland Japan other than in Chinatown.

So tomorrow, if you guys have all commented and oohed and ahhed over my pictures from today (yes, I like to know that you're out there, so leave me some comments!), I'll share some pictures from the other temple we visited. You'll see where we took the picture that became my brand new blog header, you likey? Lee made that for me, isn't it cool?? Then over the next week I'll share some other pics from our trip, Lee took some really fabulous ones so stay tuned!


Liz Guidry said...

ooohhhh! aaahhhh! hehe

Love the new header. Lee is da man! I think the dragon pics are perfect - the colors are soo vibrant. Should look great in your Japan album :)

Amber said...

Oh yeah, those pictures turned out GREAT! I love the dragon pictures too!
Also, wouldn't you say there are about 2 million vending machines on Oki as well?;)

Giffysk8s said...

Love the new header! So not only is Lee a pot of gold, but he is a graphic artist, too! I am quite impressed!

So you didn't disappoint me~you got in a photo of a shisha! LOL Actually, I didn't realize that Okinawa had such a heavy Chinese influence. Interesting factoid. LOVE the dragon photos. They are so colorful!

I cracked up that you can say "I am the number one accountant" in Japanese! When I was little, my dad taught me to say "I love you very much" in Japanese. We said it to each other all the time then I was little, then I kind of grew out of it. When I got married and was about to leave our wedding reception, my dad whispered the phrase into my ear. When he was in the hospital dying, I said it to him and he nodded. But here's the funny part: there was a Japanese American nurse in the room at the time. She giggled when I said it. Turns out it really means something like"I love you much" and then something inappropriate that she wouldn't repeat to me! My dad was a Captain/Bomber Pilot in the USAF (though it wasn't called the USAF yet), and he was probably drunk on leave in Tokyo when he learned the phrase. So who knows what we were actually saying to each other all of those years! LOL

CCsMom said...

Hey, Kik! Yes, you can see the Chinese influence in Okinawa with those gates at Shuri Castle -- those in the road in Japan reminded me of those gates. Cool! I LOVE the blog header. I was looking yesterday and thought, "Is that different? I SWEAR that's different." Very, very nice. Lee did a great job.

Your "Ichiban Kaikei" was in the master bath all day yesterday putting new tile around the bathtub that matches the floor. Looks really good. Now he has to grout.

I think we're going to see "Benjamin Button" today sometime. I was kinda disappointed with "Twilight", but maybe that's because I'm no longer 17 -- the book is MUCH, MUCH better.

I did hit some stores early yesterday and got you a few birthday gifts!!! But I also got you one of the Pier One Christmas wall decorations like mine -- it is metal and has words in the form of a Christmas tree. Adrienne liked mine so well, I bought one for each of you. I may try to figure out how to make yours SILVER, though -- they have special finishes at Hobby Lobby that can also antique it, which it is now but in gold. HALF PRICE!!! And as I waited for the store to open, I could see two of them through the window. Wasn't quite as crowded as that year we went ornament shopping at all the Hallmarks. Nor at Kohl's at 4:00 a.m. on Black Friday -- that was way crazy!

Didja get my last email? We've been messing around during the day (Dad working on the tile, me SHOPPING) and then sitting in the hot tub in the evening. Last night a storm rolled through as it was 81 degrees yesterday and then a cold front. Causes nasty weather, you know.

Love you mucho. LOVED the pix and the info. I've learned a whole lot about Japan/Okinawa from you.