Sunday, December 5, 2010

Imperial Palace - Dec 5, 2010

Yet another bright and sunny day in Tokyo and the husband and I decide that we need to do something touristy today.  I had read that you can "rent" bicycles for free on Sundays at the Imperial Palace and that there are even road closures to ensure that you cycle in safety while touring outside of the grounds.  Sounds like a win-win to me.  We set off with G most excited to be going on the train again.

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, a short walk from Tokyo Station. It is the residence of Japan's Imperial Family.

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.

The palace buildings and inner gardens are 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.

There are over 250 bicycles to chose from and an army of elderly green jacketed gentlemen to assist you in choosing the right bike for you.  Since I've been coveting a Mama san style bike, I decided to put the almost 40 lb child on the front of my bike and give it a spin, if you will.  No problems at all except G screeching "faster mommy, go faster!".  Kid - I haven't been to gym in months, this is as good as it gets.   This country is nothing if not orderly and systematic.  That being said there were cones, arrows and strategically place green jacketed men along the route to ensure that you don't veer of course.  Which I did, much to chagrin, rapid fire Japanese and whistleblowing of route attendee....whoops.  The husband proceeded to cycle past and ignore me, for which he'll pay at some point in time.

We had a lovely ride and afterwards decided to roam the grounds a bit and take a few photos.  No less than 3 individuals took photos of G-blatantly, no requests. hmmmm, tried valiantly to quell my high pedophile alertness and we deduced that the Japanese were either taken in by 1. his blonde hair, 2. his Beatles tee shirt  or 3. the fact that he resembles and Anime character (I was told this by a Japanese friend in London).  If this attention continues for the next 3 years, the kid is going to think he's a rockstar.

We head home on the train and opt for sushi for lunch - where our very limited Japanese vocabularly is severely tested.  Since G will only eat Edamame at this point (and an occasional cucumber roll), I head to a convenience store nearby for his lunch.  Ritz bits, strawberry milk and an apple is not going to win me Mother of Year anytime soon.

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