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Tokyo: Cherry blossoms, art, old stuff, and a rainy walk through the Emperor’s gardens

Updated: Mar 25, 2023

The cherries bloom for about 10 days in Tokyo. And our visit to this amazing city fell at the peak of blossom season. I cannot tell you how blessed I feel to have experienced that beauty.

On my first day in the Japan capital, I went on a very long excursion to take in some cultural highlights.

The first stop was the National Museum of Western Art which was initially started in 1916 to house the collection of Kojiro Matsukata, a businessman and son of a former Prime Minister, who believed the Japanese would understand the people of the West better if they got to know their art.

It has an extensive collection of secondary paintings and sculptures by old masters. Outside there are pieces by Rodin.

And inside - which we were not technically allowed to photograph - there was everything from Cezanne and Monet to Van Gogh and Picasso.

Then we took a short walk through Ueno Park to the Tokyo National Museum which, like most museums of its size, could take a whole day to fully explore. We had an hour, so I went to the Japanese archaeology room where they have remnants of civilization that are as much 9,000 years old.

There were examples of traditional Samurai armour.

This is from a thousand years BC.

And this item , which was on display in the same area, is a little newer.

After the museum, we walked the long walk down an avenue with cherry blossoms on both sides. It was lunch time in a beautiful day and the avenue was crowded with people enjoying the spray of pink and white. It was a beautiful, breathtaking experience.

We arrived at a restaurant called Kisoji which served authentic Japanese food. In the room next to us, a group of about 20 women ate their meal kneeling on the floor. We (thankfully) were provided with tables and chairs to sit and enjoy our sushi, rice, miso soup and vegetables. Delicious.

After that we were set free to wander a nearby shopping district. I looked but did not buy.

Then we went to the Tokyo Tower which was built to emulate the Eiffel Tower ... just a bit taller. The views were pretty spectacular. And I had a glass of wine while I watched a video on the history of Tokyo from the 1800s to now, through the war years. It was boosterism ... but the best kind.

When we got back to the ship, I quickly dressed for dinner and four of the ladies from the ship and I crammed into a cab and went downtown to sushi restaurant that had fish videos on every wall. It was spectacular. This is Terry from Texas and me enjoying our meals.

The following day was drizzling rain but I did not want to waste a minute. So I went with Tilka, Josie and Virginia to a shopping mall near the ship. Then I left the ladies to catch a series of subway trains (you have to pay separately for each leg of the trip on a different line) to the Emporer's Palace.

We were not permitted to get beyond the tall stone walls that surround the palace building.

But I walked the grounds through the rain. It was mostly dramatic Japanese pines set on a lush lawn. I was soaked ... but it was extremely tranquil.

Then I headed back to the ship, via another complex combination of subway trains - which was an experience in itself.

Tokyo was wonderful, but the cherry blossoms were absolute the highlight of the stop.

Now we are headed for Nagasaki ... our last stop in Japan before pushing on to Vietnam and Thailand.

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