TOKYO #5 OUT AND ABOUT TOWN

On Saturday, we went to Kamakura, a town about one hour southwest of Tokyo on the coastline, to view several of the temples, the 800 year old “Big Buddha,” and enjoy a beer and pizza overlooking the beach.

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At the beautiful garden and shrine in the city center, there were numerous couples getting married in traditional Japanese costume.

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That evening, after enjoying appetizers at Randy and Rachel's beautiful flat, they took me to an incredible dinner at a very elegant Japanese tofu house. Each dining table was in its own small dining room, just off the floor with low no-leg seats and a pit underneath for the feet and legs of those seated at the table. A huge picture window offered an up-close view of the beautiful gardens that filled the courtyard. Dinner arrived in numerous small courses: soup, vegetables, sushi, fried (whole) fish (about the size of goldfish…yes, Mom, I ate mine!) and a wonderful sorbet.

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During the meal, we experienced an earthquake-my second in the week I've been here-that lasted about 30 seconds. No damage, but I noted that the waitress that was servicing our table at that moment took it very seriously, right away dropping down to the floor and exclaiming something in Japanese. Everyone in Japan has “earthquake apps” on their smartphones that quickly give the stats of each event, and sometimes are able to announce a warning just ahead. We quickly learned this one was measured a little above a 4 in Tokyo, though higher in the Chiba area where it was centered. The one I had felt earlier in the week was also a 4. Those are a little stronger than average apparently, with 3's being a somewhat usual happening. Of course, everyone still talks about the big quake (9 on the scale) and Tsunami from 2011. All the teachers I met with had compelling stories of “where I was when it hit.” At Saint Mary's, the rocking lasted for over 5 minutes and the pool sloshed all its water up and into the coaches room. All Tokyo train lines were stopped, and-much like in NYC in 2001, millions of people walked miles that evening to get home. Many Tokyo residents opened their homes for restroom and water breaks. Martie, the teacher at CAJ, told me that now they always keep gas in the car, and they always know where their flashlights are.

Sunday was another great free day, starting with Mass at the only Anglican English-language parish in Tokyo, Saint Alban's. The choir director there was a teacher I had met earlier in the week, and he kindly invited me to join him for lunch at a Thai restaurant. Afterward, a little souvenir shopping and exploring of the Takeshita Street, popular with the high school girls who like to dress in short skirts and knee high bright stockings!

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