Oniko's Travel Diary:|
The Three Mountains
(August 5-31, 1998)
Saturday August 15th, 1998
Today I got out early for one simple reason; I wanted to spend an hour or two exploring Tokyo ward for ATMs that could give me money using my American ATM card.
Back in 1990, when I visited Tokyo with a group of other American students as part of a home stay program, we visited Tokyo ward as one of our cultural field trips because it's the big financial center for the whole city of Tokyo; we got to visit the Tokyo Stock Enchange building, which was loud, confusing, and interesting... once. I am in no hurry to re-visit that particular attraction.
But, being the financial center for the city, Tokyo ward is full of banks, which is why I had high hopes of finding at least one more ATM that would let me get at my American bank account. Alas, high hopes often have long falls... I didn't find a single ATM that even pretended to understand my card. So I'm still stuck with only one ATM that I know of that will give me cash from my American account.
But, as long as I was in Tokyo ward, it seemed stupid to not take a little time at least to briefly visit one of the other attractions here... the Imperial Gardens. I'm not sure why I, as a student in 1990, wasn't taken to this particular tourist attraction; but that's one reason I returned -- to catch the sights that I'd missed last time. So I walked the short distance from the bank I finally gave up at to the great moat that surrounds the grounds of the Imperial Gardens. This moat is like a still river; it's a straight drop thirty feet down to the water on the side near the street where I was. On the other side of the forty foot or so wide moat, a stone wall rises up about fifty feet; in some spots on top, the gardens come right up to the edge... you can see dirt, grass, and trees. Walking around, I eventually came to a bridge and gate that I could enter from.
Entry was free, but I did have to take a large plastic "ticket" as I entered and return it when I left... I think this just lets them keep track of how many people are wandering around at any point in time; it's a very large place to get lost in! A little into the park area was a small museum -- again, free entry -- which had a small variety of the Imperial Treasures on display. Personally, I was quite taken with a spectacular ink and watercolor painting of a tiger posed on the tip of a precipace facing off against an etherial dragon forming out of storm clouds and the mist of a turbulent ocean... unfortunately, no photos allowed.
Outside, and just a little further along the path, is a rest area/souviener shop where I grabbed a map of the grounds (which I immediately put away and forgot), then I walked on to the main starting point of all the paths -- paths? Make that roads -- that stretch throughout the spacious gardens. I was examining a wall made of huge chiseled blocks of stone, and wondering why no one ever mentioned these blocks when they were claiming aliens were needed to build the pyramids (I think this way; sorry), when a voice from behind asked me a somewhat hesitant question.
"Do you speak English?"
It turned out to be a man in his fifties, named Yamazaki. He was learning English, and participated in a club where the members would get together to speak English to one another. Since I wanted to practice Japanese and he wanted to practice English, I agreed to his idea of touring the grounds together.
|Traditionally in Japan, the Imperial Family and other high goverment officials performed most of the national Shinto rituals for major holidays. Nowadays, the Imperial Family still performs some of these national rituals, but the rest of the government is pretty much out of the business.|
|There are two distinct words for places of worship in Japan; tera, which always means a Buddhist temple, and jinjya, which always means a Shinto shrine. In these diaries, I will use the words temple and shrine to designate the same difference.|
|All illustrations in these pages are copyright (c)2002 Garth Haslam, and shouldn't be used without his permission. To contact him Click Here!|