12 intense days in Japan: 3rd day in Tokyo

For our third day in Tokyo, we decide to go visit the Imperial Palace district, of course via our dear Yamanote line. We get off at the Tokyo station. Only the gardens are open to the public; there are plenty of very beautiful trees, bamboo trees, cherry trees, and many other sorts whose complicated names we cannot remember.  The scenery must be magnificent when the trees blossom in the spring. The Imperial Palace itself is hidden from the public’s eyes and is rarely open. What a pity. A bit disappointed, we turn our attention to the imperial collection museum where we can admire a beautiful display of children’s costumes from the imperial family. It is cool and refreshing inside the building, a welcome relief from the heat outside.


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After exiting the imperial Palace, we head for the Marunouchi district and take a break with a lunch of sandwiches in a Starbucks-like café on the first floor of a high-rise building. As you might expect, these buildings house both commercial offices and a great deal of stores spread across many different levels, and in the land of frenetic shopping, there are quite a lot of these vertical shopping malls. We are close to the Ginza district, home of luxury shopping, in which we stroll leisurely for the afternoon.




It is time for us to go back to our hotel and prepare for our second dinner with Francois’ Japanese classmates from MIT. Japanese people very seldom host dinner at their homes. It is against cultural habits and etiquette. Tonight, we are to meet with Masa (the same Masa from last night), a second Masa, Hideyuki, and Hiroko who comes with her 15-year old daughter. We meet in a restaurant in the Shinjuku district. A private dinner room is reserved for us in this restaurant which is located on an undefined level in a high-rise building in Shinjuku. Beer flows abundantly. A variety of dishes follow one another: sushi’s, sashimi’s, yakitori’s, salads. Conversation is light-hearted and fun and lively. We all laugh as we compare cultural habits and clichés about our respective countries. We try our best to make sure that as little as possible of the conversation is lost in translation. What a great evening. Time passes however, and it is getting late. Tomorrow, another day of hard work awaits our Japanese hosts. So it is time for our Japanese friends to get back to their homes and for us to our hotel room. But we promise, we will see each other again, in Paris or in Tokyo or elsewhere