October 2, 1961 – Tokyo

Hawaii, BOAC 707 Flying – Cloudy, clear

     By the time we landed in Tokyo we had traveled ten hours and lost one whole calendar day.  The flight was pleasant but very tiring.  The stewardesses served us sandwiches for breakfast at 7am and some omelets and shish kabobs made of bacon, chicken, liver and beef later in the day.  Edith and I had an engineer, Mr. Seki, who was returning to his home in Taipei, who kindly showed us how to use the hashi (chopsticks).  We were also treated to free champagne which helped me to relax but when I tried to sleep I only managed to doze off for an hour.

      We arrived at Wake Island to refuel which was about half way on our flight to Japan.  I was pleased I was able to take a couple of pictures of the little atoll. 

Wake Island Taken from the Plane

Different View of Wake Island from the Plane

     I made the acquaintance of a second lieutenant who was another passenger on the plane headed back home to Viet Nam.  He invited me to come to his home in Saigon to meet his family if we had time.  He even went so far as to give me his card so I would know how to contact him while we were there.  I was quite pleased with how many wonderful, friendly people I was meeting on the trip so far.

      Tokyo was cloudy and sprinkling when we finally got there at 10am (Tokyo time).  As we drove through the narrow, busy streets we had our first chance to see the magnificent city and in the process passed many shrines on our way to the hotel.  Mr. Katsumi Kitajima, our guide (and much nicer than Rudy) called our attention to various things of interest along the way.

     He pointed out posted signs that read 4 deaths, 159 injured.  It showed the previous days driving deaths and injuries.  He told us that if we watched the signs while we were here in Tokyo we would see there are never less than three killed on any given day.  He also called our attention to the floral shops where we would see many bouquets with the stems or legs wrapped with black and white paper showing they were designated for funerals or if they were wrapped with white and red paper then it is for a happy occasion like a wedding.

      Once we arrived at The Imperial Hotel we were treated to a magnificent tour.  There were beautiful floral arrangements in every corridor.  There were many beautiful dining rooms including the Prunier Room, Imperial Viking and the Sukiyaki Rooms.  Once we made it to our hotel room we found it had two twin beds, the walls were covered with beautiful green rice paper and the ceiling had colored lights.  We were also grateful there was air conditioning because of the heat.  We had big lights next to our beds, a writing table, a radio, telephone, easy chairs, and a large bath room with two wash bowls. 

View of the Old Part of Imperial Hotel

      We’d been told we had only a few minutes to get settled in our room before we were to meet for lunch in the Smorgasbord Room.  Our food was all beautiful and delicious to eat although I didn’t think I would order some of it ever again.  Specifically I had trouble eating the octopus and broiled eel.

      Our first tour of Tokyo started right after lunch at 2pm and had been planned to last only for three hours since we’d done so much traveling over night.  We were taken to the Imperial Palace Plaza, the National Diet Building, Meiji Shrine outer garden and Veno Park.  Then we were taken to the Asakusa amusement center to view the artwork there.  It was also so grand and I really enjoyed seeing all of it.  I wished I’d paid closer attention on how to find the amusement center because I would have liked to go back there again to spend more time.  Afterwards we were taken back to our hotel via Nihowbashu Ginza and as we drove along we saw everyone had their umbrella out due to the rain and since they all had a different color it created a unique sight. 

Tokyo Street at Mejii Shrine

Rainy Tokyo Street Scene from Mejii Shrine

      We noticed the roads were extra wide and there were several kinds of trees lining them.  When Mr. Kitajima, who’d asked us to call him Kiki, was asked about the width and trees answered that we would see there are three kinds of trees and each type has special meaning for the Japanese people.  The first was the Plum tree that is their symbol of courage.  Next the Pine tree which stands for long life and finally the Bamboo tree symbolizing honesty.  The three trees Kiki said made up the Happy Tree design.  He added that all the leaves were brown due to a tornado that had occurred. 

     We could tell Kiki was very proud of Tokyo especially when he told us the city would soon have a monorail connecting the airport and the city.  He said it was expected by 1964.

     Edith and I both thought Kiki was far more interesting and helpful than Rudy had been although Rudy had been better that last day in Hawaii.

      As we drove along I suddenly realized the Japanese people drive on the left side of the highway like they do in England.  I also noticed that most cars were small foreign models.  Kiki let us know that American cars were consided to be too big, used to much gas and to take too much room on the roads. 

     Kiki continued to tell us more interesting facts about Japan as our bus continued to drive back to our hotel.  The most interesting one was that no building could be built over 103 feet high because of danger from earthquakes.

      We were returned to our hotel at 5:30pm and I was ready to retire for the night since I hadn’t had any sleep for two days, however, Edith was hungry and so was I.  We decided to get a light dinner before going to our room at the Café Terrace.  Both of us ordered onion soup and it was excellent.  It reminded me of the onion soup I could get back in Ventura and that surprised me.

      The soup filled up my tummy nicely and after returning to our room Edith and I took turns taking a nice warm bath.  While Edith took her bath I washed out some of my undies and hung them up to dry.  As I settled into my bed I noted how comfortable the mattress was.  Or maybe it was comfortable because I was so ready to be there.  Either way it didn’t matter because I went to sleep almost immediately.


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Patrick S Poplin
    Oct 18, 2010 @ 21:53:26

    The way these are framed, I take it these images are from her home movies, and not slides. Am I correct?


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