TOKYO UPDATE #3-FREE DAY IN CITY

While staying in Tokyo, I'm a guest at the Saint Mary's International School, a Catholic private school for boys about 5 miles southwest of downtown. Located in a quiet tree-lined neighborhood, the school sits on a hill overlooking the nearby train/subway station and Tamagawa River. My spacious room is located in the “Brothers Residence,” the home for those faculty who themselves are members of the Brothers in Christian Education, the Order that runs the school and others like it around the world. From the balcony of my room, I have a view of the school athletic fields, where an exuberant game of tug-of-war was played yesterday morning.

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Yesterday was a half day at the school, so I had some time to explore on my own. Armed with my subway map and my best sense of direction, I set off to see the sights. First, to the Shinjuku area…Tokyo government center and district with massive department stores. Also the neighborhood with the New Theater of Tokyo where I hoped to see a performance of Stravinsky ballets later in the evening, so swinging by the box office would also be a convenient stop. (Randy brought me to this neighborhood over the weekend, and we took in the fantastic view from the 50th floor observation deck of the city municipal building.)

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Nearing lunch time and tummy growling for attention, I ventured to the top floor of one of the high end department stores to survey the restaurant offerings, and selected an elegant sushi place with a view of the city. They sat me right at the sushi counter, brought me about 6 different menus (fortunately all with photos) and some tasty green tea. Ten minutes later I had a beautiful plate of a dozen pieces of sushi/roll slices before me. Truly one of the best meals I've had anywhere in a long time.

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Next, back on the subway and over to the Asakuza area, filled with Edo-era shops and beautiful temple and gardens.

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With a little time left before needing to head back to the theater, I rode the subway to Ueno, and strolled their large city park, lined with numerous museums, fountains and concert halls.

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The evening performance, with full symphony orchestra and chorus, was a triptych of works Stravinsky wrote for the famous Ballet Russes back in the early 20th century: The Firebird, Apollo and (one of my all-time faves) Les Noces. Performed in the huge Opera House, the performance was musically and visually stunning, and so incredible to see the faithfully re-created choreography and costumes of the original Ballet Russes team. Still so fresh and provocative today, one can only imagine what the European audiences of one hundred years ago must have thought!

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