Thursday, December 26, 2013

Happy Boxing Day!

My Christmas tree

Well, Christmas is over here in Japan.  I think back when I was younger and heard that Santa was traveling around the world on Christmas eve to deliver presents, knowing what I know now, Santa could have skipped most of Japan and not be noticed by the population.  Christmas day in Japan is pretty much like any other working day.  The students go to school, the stores open on time and stay open until the regular closing time, the buses and the trains run on normal time, and doctor and dentists offices are open, everything runs like a regular normal day.  The stores do promote the idea of the Christmas season and there are Christmas carols playing in the stores and some restaurants.  It is weird to be walking through a hardware store in Japan and hear the Hallelujah Chorus in English.  
Boxing Day gave me the opportunity to go with Bette, Emily and Brandon on a Garden and Tea Ceremony tour in Tokyo.  We met at the Tokyo Government buildings and walked to Shinjuku Gyoen National Park.  We walked through the park looking at the different types of gardens, Japanese, English, and French as well as the greenhouse. 
Japanese garden
This building looks like the Empire State Building in contrast to the Japanese garden in the foreground.
You can tell the fish are fed by people, as soon as we stood by the pond, the fish all came swimming!
More of the Japanese garden
A Tiawanese building made with materials from Tiawan
English garden.  They tend to focus on lawns.  :)
French Garden
Another part of the French Garden
Very young bananas!
We took a couple of trains to hotel that had a typical Japanese tea room.  Before getting to the hotel, we popped into a temple and our tour guides showed us how they purify themselves and what they do when they go the temple.  When we arrived at the tea room, we also had to ceremoniously purify ourself, learn how to eat the sweet cake, and how to drink the tea.  Lots of things to learn.  They told us of the traditions associated with the tea ceremony.  I learned a lot. 
Temple where we stopped before going to the tea room.
Emily and Brandon sitting in the tea room.
The 4.5 tatami tea room.

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