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The plan for the day was to walk from the T-Cube down to the Emperor's Palace to check out the Imperial Grounds, then take the Bullet Train to Hiroshima, or a very full agenda!
Checking out the Emperor's Imperial Grounds from Bone's Pad !
One of cool things about Bone's Apartment, is that it overlooked the Japanese Diet (Their Federal Congress Building) and the Emperor's Grounds. Skipping breakfast, the Boy picked up a couple of all-American Starbucks and walked the 1.5 miles down to the Emperors Imperial Grounds.
The current Imperial Palace is located on the former site of Edo Castle, a large park area surrounded by moats and massive stone walls in the center of Tokyo. It is the private residence of the imperial family, along with an archive, museum and administrative offices.
Waiting for an audience with the Emperor !
The current Imperial Palace is located on the former site of Edo Castle, a large park area surrounded by moats and massive stone walls in the center of Tokyo. It is the private residences of the imperial family, an archive, museum and administrative offices.
As Mike and Bone walked in yet another incredible day in the 50's, the Boys learned that Edo Castle used to be the seat of the Tokugawa shogun who ruled Japan from 1603 until 1867. In 1868, the shogunate was overthrown, and the country's capital and Imperial Residence were moved from Kyoto to Tokyo. In 1888 construction of a new Imperial Palace was completed. The palace was once destroyed during World War Two, and rebuilt in the same style, afterwards, so it really isn't all that old. All the old stuff (other than Asakusa) is in Kyoto.
Playing with Bridges
Coming from the Main Street across from Kokyo Gaien, (the large plaza in front of the Imperial Palace), Mike and Bone checked out the Nijubashi, two bridges that form an entrance to the inner palace grounds. The stone bridge in front is called Meganebashi (Eyeglass Bridge) for its looks. The bridge in the back was formerly a wooden bridge with two levels, from which the name Nijubashi (Double Bridge) is derived.
Unfortunately that about as closed as Mike and Bone got to the Emperor. The inner grounds of the palace are generally not open to the public. Only on January 2 (New Year's Greeting) and December 23 (Emperor's Birthday), visitors are able to enter the inner palace grounds and see the members of the Imperial Family, who make several public appearances on a balcony. Fortunately for Bone and his daughter Katie, they had the privilege the week before on the 23rd to enter the grounds and hear the Emperor speak (in Japanese of course!) to Bone, Katie, and 50,000 of their closest Japanese friends!
Unfortunately for the Emperor, he missed out! Mike and Bone would bought him a beer for his Birthday!!!
Mike and Bone Jamming on a 60 Degree Day in Tokyo !
The 3.5 miles takes some time to check out and before they knew it, it was pushing noon and they had a 1:00 PM Train for Hiroshima!! So the Boys grabbed the first cab, got to the T-Cube, then were able to take the Subway to the Train Station for the 3.5 hour trip down the coast to Hiroshima!
Blowing By Mount Fuji on a Bullet Train
"Faster than a Speeding Bullet, Train ?!? Maybe Not ! Superman maybe faster than a speeding bullet train, but the Bullet Trains in Japan will give him a run for his money!!! Japan's high speed bullet trains, also known as Shinkansen trains, offer a ride like no other with speeds reaching up to 280 miles an hour! As the Boys entered the very sleek and stylish Train everything in an out of it was ABSOLUTELY freakin' spotless!! There was not one piece of paper on the tracks or in the beds. Even the rocks in the beds were all organized. Once the Boy took their seats, the Train oh so gently lifted magnetically from the tracks, and effortlessly took off to over 200 miles and hour, with no jostling inside the train. your could have an some people did left a drink on the armchair, and there was not enough motion to cause it to slosh much less tip over. For those Americans who don't think trains are the way to go, need to ride one of these awesome rides! within 20 minutes you could really get the drift on how fast you were moving.... As the Boys came up to, and then past Mt Fuji from in sight to out of sight was less than 2 minutes!!!! A truly slick and sick way to go!
By the time the Boys arrived in Hiroshima it was pushing 700 PM. Wandering outside the Train Station, the Boys discover an odd thing. 4 hours to the North Tokyo was quite comfortable and warm. 4 hours to the south, Hiroshima was freakin' cold! It turns out that the Pacific Current (similar to the Atlantic's Gulf Stream) bends close to Tokyo, keeping it warmer than other parts of Japan. Bundling up, Mike and Bone first found a Hotel near the Train Station for the night, then decided that even though it maybe too late, they wanted to check out the Atomic Park.
The Atomic Dome at Night
While they had the whole day ahead to check it out, Mike and Bone thought that they would perform some "Recon" before the next day. The maps and instructions in broken English/Japanese did not make Mike and Bone to confident, so they marked their Hotel on a Map and had a Taxi take them down the Peace Park. Now neither Mike nor Bone really new what to expect going there. Saying Hiroshima is a tourist attraction somehow diminishes the horror of what happened there. But since they were touring Japan, it the events on that awful day of August 6th 1945 still resonants in History and current events, Mike and Bone felt compelled to check it out. Since it was late, dark and cold, there weren't many people there.
The park covers both sides of the Ota River. Checking out the Atomic Peace Dome, which used to be the Hiroshima Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall, your could get a sense of the utter devastation from the Bomb. Typically Mike and Bone are all fun and games 24/7, this chilly dark night down by the Ota River, the Boys were very reflectful.
After only 20 minutes, Mike and Bone realized that they would be back there in the morning and started heading in the general direction of the Hotel looking a good place to eat!
Looking for some Eats and Drinks !
While Mike and Bone were wandering in the general direction, it was freakin' cold and fortunately they found a good restaurant/bar area relatively quickly after warming up in the Mall shown above.
Time for Tepanaki and Beer! Much, Much Beer !
Mike and Bone happened on Fukumachi Kitchen, which is a local tepenaki restaurant. The way Japanese eat is either small (there really are not a lot of fat japanese) pre-arranged meals called sets (or in Japanese "settos") or nosh on appetizers while they drink beer. For the Michigan Boys useta beer, chicken wings, and nachos, it sounded awesome! Plus it was warm in there. Sitting down the Boys noticed that the Restaurant had big beers. You know beer not only quenches your thirst, it warms you up! So one round of big beers, led to a second, third, and fourth with each round with a few small dishes with each round. After an hour, the Boys were truly enjoying themselves in classic Mike and Bone fashion laughing loudly and generally being a nuisance. Now. fed, warm, tipsy, they noticed it was only 10:00 PM, plenty of time to party a bit in town, or getting bombed in Hiroshima !!
Gettin' Bombed in Hiroshima!
Mike and Bone started bar hopping trying different beers in each place. a number them were quiet and stuffy pubs, until Mike caught a eclectic little second floor bar on the side of a building. Going in the Boys found a funky Bar with a lot of bunch of 20-something hipsters watching some bizarre Movie (shown above). Deciding to join it the Boys, the ordered a few beers and two shots of Japanese Whiskey!
International Amity or International Alcoholism, You Decide !
As the Boys were enjoying the beers and shots, there was new entertainment ! The young 2-something hipsters thought Mike and Bone were great fun and joined them for a drink. Only problem was, that they spoke no English and were slurring their Japanese! It did not matter, there was the black and white silent movie on, it was a holiday week and everyone was drinking and singing, what did it matter if you knew what you were singing!?! This continued till about 12:30 in the morning, when Mike and Bone decided to cab it back to the Hotel because after drinking, they weren't really sure what direction to go!