Politics in Japan is annoying. And I mean that literally.
When 8AM rolls around, Asakusa starts getting pretty loud. It's election campaign season, you see, and for some reason, Japanese politicians seem to think that annoying the crap out of everyone by driving around in vans with loudspeakers is an effective way to get votes (is it? I guess you'd have to ask a bunch of Japanese people about that, but it just seems... Unlikely, given what my Japanese friends seem to think about it). I've told them that there's no way I'm voting for any of them, but this doesn't seem to dissuade them. Note to self: next time, try not to schedule a trip right before an election. Yeesh.
So, went and saw Sensouji (浅草寺 -- the first two characters are also Asakusa, which I imagine isn't accidental) this morning. With my Japanese friend's guidance, I did all the things you're apparently supposed to do. Burned some incense, made a 5円 offering (apparently, that's an auspicious coin, since the polite word for five yen is the same as, um, some word I can't remember or something. I'm sure somebody reading this knows what I'm talking about, though). Saw the golden turn, but held off seeing the museum or whatever they had there until Dusty gets here. My friend here got a copy of the literature for the boat ride down Sumidagawa, too, so we'll be prepared for that (those are all in the same area in Asakusa).
Getting the hang of Japan. Finding I can understand just enough -- got to Yokohama on my own with no issues at all, and understood just enough of the train announcer that I could have navigated my train transfer even if I couldn't have read the signs (of course, I can read the kanji for 横浜 just fine, so that would have been easy even without an English translation). Checked into my hotel in Yokohama (mostly) in Japanese. Yay, me.
Had a blast last night -- we went to this one restaurant that we found out had an, um, waterfall through the dining area while we were eating. I got fairly drunk, which is nice to do once in a while, and is better here, because you can stumble back home without worrying about driving or anything. I actually (almost accidentally) got back to my hotel by an "alternate" route with minimum fuss -- despite that, I'm pretty sure I was actually still drunk, since I got lost in my hotel itself -- I was ten feet from my hotel room and failed to find it. :-/
So, tomorrow, more exploring Yokohama with my Japanese friend here.
[Secret message to Evan: メロンパン was acquired on the way to Asakusa at the appointed place. メロンパンはかなり美味しいです。]
[see photos on flickr]