Blue Fondue a la Turk

Eams and I managed to stay up till midnight, which helped us sleep in on New Year’s Day. After a late and coffee-less start we headed to the Zozoji Temple near the Tokyo Tower, which we’d been advised was the thing to do on New Year’s Day. Coming out of the subway we were immediately side-tracked by a small, but beautiful temple in the park behind Zozoji. This tiny temple was built in the shaqde of what is claimed to be Tokyo’s oldest tree, planted by a Shogun over 600 years ago and, yes, it’s a mighty big and thick tree. Shinto temples have fire pits burning on New Year’s Day and the people who come to pay their respects bring a small item from their home, seemingly the small knotted grass decorations that have been on sale all around the city, to burn.
There was a park between this shrine and the big temple, so we set off into it and discovered the hotel next door were offering people a chance to partake in traditional games, like kite flying, stilt walking, top spinning and badminton (with small wooden paddles and a real feathered cock), This kept Eamon and Pip amused for a while and I enjoyed watching the suit and tied hotel staff running with kites. But on to the temple and into a full on fiesta. One stall staffed by monks was selling fortunes and there were some selling arrows with bells on the end and many things with rabbit motifs. Lots of food stalls (many selling the traditional New Year’s Day buckwheat noodles), the standard beer and whisky stalls, stalls selling wishes and stalls selling prayers. We watched a monkey show (unheard of at home) and kids enetering some kind of competition for which the prize was a banana dipped in icing with sprinkles. It was an excellent festival with thousands in attendance. After a lunch from the stalls, we headed to Roppongi Hills, an area of Tokyo quite nearby that, when wasn’t a public holiday, was renowned for 2nd hand goods and furniture. Beautiful streets – Paris-like in feel and yet another different area. Pip and I have been saying all week, “I could live here,” – At Roppongi, I could really live here. Poked around a beautiful, huge bookstore and roamed the streets for a good couple of hours before our feet aches came to the fore and the hotel was calling. It was specifically calling for Eamon, because Pip and I were going out and granting Eamon’s wish to stay in our room for the evening.

Pip and returned to Electric Street and found a floor 3, 4 and 5 yakitori restaurant. Yakitori is basically barbecue at your table. Plates with all manner of meat keep arriving and you chuck them on the grill (a bucket of charcoal that fits into a slot on the table) and cook them. Most interestingly, a little foil pie tin filled with cheese and mayonnaise which was to serve as the fondue for the basil garlic chicken pieces. Despite the inherent dagginess of fondue, who could resist? Fondue good!
Eams in cleansing mode
Yakitori Restaurant

Roppongi Hills

Big Day Out at the Temple

Bananas in pink pyjamas

Well dressed and flying

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