Postcards from Japan

A fun little street in the Kichioji district of Tokyo. Some of the back alleys in this area have a real Blade Runner vibe--especially when it rains.

The view from my hotel room in the Shinjuku district of Tokyo. This is the view looking away from the center of Tokyo. Naturally the city extends even further in the opposite direction.

An interesting menu item in an Okinawan restaurant. I hear they spend years training the fish to face all in the same direction.

The sign on the right, loosely translated, says "Do not urinate here." I am intrigued by the implication that it is OK to urinate in other places. This reminds me of Jack Seward's anecdote about a similar sign that he saw. After some weeks it was joined by another sign saying, "Or defecate either." The sign on the left, by the way, says "Under camera surveillance."

Panorama of Zenkoji temple in Nagano (click for a big view). Wikipedia tells me they have a sacred statue here that nobody, nobody is allowed to look at, although there is a replica that they display for one day every six years. There indeed seems something one-hand-clapping about this invisible statue. My favorite theory is that the high priest lost the statue some hundreds of of years ago and came up with the nobody-allowed-to-look-at-it idea to save embarrassment.

Window shutters on an old storehouse in Nagano. Look at the thickness and the design. These people do not like drafts.

This little restaurant belongs in the dictionary under "hole in the wall." The big signs say "Ramen."

Another thing you would never see in the U.S.: this guy is neatly raking the gravel on a park path.

Offerings of sake at the Meiji shrine.

Where I had dinner tonight. Oddly, this reminded me of Chick and Ruth's deli in Annapolis. Brightly lit, rambunctious, and a large menu, most of which is listed on the walls. The only things missing were the testimonials from local politicians.