Tokyo Blond Is Not Porn

Tokyo Blond is not a porn blog, about hair or even, as one pithy friend remarked, a micro beer or late 1980s glam metal band ("Dude, I just saw Skid Row and Tokyo Blond opened and played a killer set").

The purpose of this blog is to chronicle my experiences in Tokyo - poignantly, visually, irreverently - for fun.

Anybody can tag along...that is if I like you. This blog will endeavor to be entertaining and honest and frequent enough to keep those following interested including me.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Our First Japanese Garden

One of our first excursions was to the Hama Rikyu gardens next to the Conrad hotel.  If you recall the Conrad was where we stayed the first time we came to Tokyo.

This was the view from our hotel room at the Conrad looking down at Tokyo Bay.  The big space where all the green trees and the lake are is the Hama Rikyu Gardens.  They are considered by some to be the best gardens in Tokyo, according to Frommer's.  They date back 300 years (um, our country isn't even that old) and were used as a retreat for the Tokugawa shoguns.  
See shogun definition below - thank you Wikipedia.  

Shogun (将軍 shōgun?)(literally, "a commander of a force") is a military rank and historical title for (in most cases) a hereditary military dictator of Japan.[1] The modern rank is equivalent to a Generalissimo. Although the original meaning of "shogun" is simply "a general", as a title, it is used as the short form of seii taishōgun 征夷大将軍, the governing individual at various times in the history of Japan, ending when Tokugawa Yoshinobu relinquished the office to the Meiji Emperor in 1867.[2]

OMG! OMG!  Walking through the subway station we discovered they had a Beard Papas. 
I almost fainted with joy.  Russell had not been initiated yet so I immediately purchased three or four for him so he too could understand.  Plus they were giving away FREE SAMPLES!
And let's just say...he finished every single one.
If you haven't tried them, then you must.  They're basically the best cream puffs ever!  And this coming from a person who doesn't like cream puffs or eclairs.

So side bar story.  My first experience was with a vanilla Beard Papa from their store in Torrance.  Yes, Torrance.  It was love at first bite.  Fluffy, flaky but not too sweet.  Being the typical American I am, of course I assumed they originated in America, probably Hawaii.  Imagine my surprise, about 30 seconds ago, when I discovered they originated in Osaka Japan!!!  And here I thought I had really discovered something.  For a charming tutorial video on their background and franchise opportunities go to:

One of the things that's so unusual but charming about Tokyo is the juxtaposition of new and old. So here were are on our way to some 300 year old gardens and we stumble upon this cool little sculpture in the middle of the train station.

Basically it was like a half moon that emitted mist every minute or so.
Russell was infatuated.  I had to promise him more Beard Papas to lure him away.

We just happened to pass dentsu on the way, only the largest advertising agency in Japan.

Oh yeah, this was in the public restroom in the train station.
Their public restroom is nicer than my home bathroom.
The thing on the left blow dries your hands.  
No it really dries your hands; not not like those machines at LAX.

There was a wedding going on in the gardens.  It was August and only 95% humidity.

I need a parasol.

Don't be fooled - there's bees everywhere.

This was nice - acres of cosmos


Wait I'm lost - how do we get out?

Ok now I feel like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz when she lays among the poppies and falls asleep.
There's no place like a wine bar, there's no place like a wine bar....

View of Tokyo bay.  From here you can take a boat up the Sumida River to Asakusa which we did.

Exactly what I think of when I imagine a Japanese park.

This was a view of the Conrad from the park.

You could even see Tokyo tower.

There were butterflies everywhere.

Beautiful tea house - which was open.
Since it was around 90 degrees we opted for a coke instead.

Remember that juxtaposition thing I was talking about earlier?

Russell - "you promised more Beard Papas......"
I created a monster.

The boats reminded me of the kind you take to tour the canals in Amsterdam.

Unfortunately they're not air conditioned.

But you get to see some cool architecture along the way

At night the boats are lit up like ferris wheels and the harbor looks magical.
We'll have to do that some time.

I'd like to say this was a party boat but it was just a ferry with a lot of people on it.

Very cool area we need to explore more.

If I recall there are 27 bridges on this river, each is unique.
I thought this one was pretty unique.

And then there was this.  I like to call it the golden turd.
Russell was more obliging and called it the gold toothpaste squirt.
Later we found out it's actually the headquarters of asahi beer.
Apparently it was designed by French designer Philippe Starck - go figure.
Doesn't make me thirsty.

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