(Part Two here)
With the frustrations of the day before behind me, I was ready to get to Tokyo and take in all the crazy energy that makes the city so special.
Since I first came to Japan, I’ve wanted to indulge in an evening at the New York Grill on the 52nd floor of the Park Hyatt of Lost in Translation fame. I didn’t care about the movie that much, but was excited to be in such a classy place, listening to music while looking at the lights of Tokyo. There was no better time than my first weekend back. And going with Kim and Jane made it just the perfect event (it wasn’t hard to convince them to come). This was their first time in Tokyo and going to the Park Hyatt was a great introduction for them.
It was everything I expected and more. I was really impressed. The food was great, the ambiance was divine and the jazz music superb.
Going through the library to get to the NYG.
New York Grill.
My adopted city.
Excellent jazz band. Highlight: “Moon River”.
Jane and Kim.
Park Hyatt in the distance, from the bridge in Shinjuku.
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My friends returned to their respective countries, and I showed up to work Monday morning at the Westgate office. That was also a gift, because I’m working with some really fun people, including several I worked with last term. We had an end of the year party last week, which in Japan is called bonenkai. I don’t have pictures, but the party was held at an Italian restaurant, which was very good. I sat with three other Japanese Westgate staff and had fun and interesting conversation. It was good to get to know some folks I usually don’t have the opportunity to talk with.
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And then I saw the Emperor of Japan.
Every year on December 23 (his birthday) and January 2 (for a New Year’s greeting), Emperor Akihito makes an appearance at the palace. Although people can visit the outer grounds all year long, the inner palace grounds are open only on these two days. Many people show up for this event and a few of us went along as well.
Entering the palace grounds.
The emperor and his family.
Brian, Natalie, Kim (a little overwhelmed with excitement) and Mia.
Many people came to see the emperor. There were three gatherings.
In case we wanted to make a mad dash out of there.
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Christmas here is a little different than in other countries. There are lots of lights (“illumination”), but there is no official holiday. No one gets the day off (although western Westgate staff did), the trains run on their usual schedule and all businesses are open. It’s more of a couples’ event, and fried chicken is a traditional meal. But to acknowledge the day, a few of us met to eat at a Mexican restaurant. It was pretty good for Mexican food in Tokyo. And it was great to be with good friends on this day.
Making guacamole at Mucho (the restaurant).
Illumination in Tokyo.
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It’s been an amazing year. Thank you for being part of this journey.