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Tokyo

 

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Gold Lining

January 1, 2001: For most people in Japan, New Year's is spent quietly praying. So I ended up joining a small crowd of people on a platform walkway in Odaiba, part of Tokyo, for 'hatsu hi no dai,' or 'first sunrise.'

Most people remember the size of the city, the sites and sounds, and the occasional sewer rat on two or four legs. Tokyo has them all and more. I'll remember New Year's first.

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 First Light--7:00 AM

While I waited, I ran into a rock band, complete with a pen that converted into a pipe -- so they have to be professionals. They told me that they had played the same venue that Suicidal Tendencies had played the night before. We ran around looking for the perfect place to catch the sunrise. Fortunately, it waited until we got back to the first place we started.

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Sun Risen

Amidst cheers and applause, and a few silent prayers, the sun, finally up, begins to warm Tokyo Bay. The gods have smiled on us once again.

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Yokohama

The view from the Landmark Tower is nearly as breathtaking as the ride in the 700kph elevator -- ground to sky level (70th floor) in 45 seconds.

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2:30 AM

In Harajuku, on the other side of Tokyo, is Meiji-Jinjuku, a famous temple. They estimate that the crowds here were the largest in Japan for the traditional 'first prayer' celebration. The idea is to make your way toward the main building to throw a few coins and make a wish or a prayer, or two. It only took an hour and a half to shuffle through 500 meters.

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Tokyo Disneyland

I couldn't resist taking a trip to Disneyland. It's pretty much like LA if you've ever been -- even some of the same English soundtracks. And, I don't need to see 'It's a Small World' for another twenty years.

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Vertigo?

The ride up doesn't make you nervous, but looking down over the edge does. Actually, the ride up is most like Disney's Haunted Mansion -- you only know you're moving when you look at the lights on the wall.

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Shinkansen

The best way to travel most places in Japan is by train. The fastest is the Nozomi, the 200 plus kilometer per hour bullet train.

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Tsukiji Fish Market

Somehow they looked more appetizing on a handful of rice.

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Nippon Maru

It looks a little different close up then from the look down (see above picture).

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Chinatown Shrine

It's a bit strange going to Chinatown in the middle of a large Japanese metropolis but at least I found an 'Iron Chef' restaurant to eat at. Here is a shrine around the corner.

 

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