Although not a formal tour, today was a blitz through many scenes of Tokyo life. In the morning, Joylani and I headed to Akhihabara, nicknamed “the electric city.” Basically, it’s a whole district of Tokyo that sells electronics. I didn’t necessarily want to buy anything, but just wanted to see the stores and check out the products and new technology (most of which I assume won’t make it to the US for several more years). Also, I realized that electronics and sushi are the only two things that are cheaper in Japan, and in my opinion that’s two pretty good things if you can have anything cheap. After Akhihabara, we headed to Nihonbashi, which is the financial district. As you may have guessed, I had to check out the Tokyo Stock Exchange. Like Korea’s KRX, the TSE has gone totally electronic and the trading floor has been converted into a museum. There was a good photo gallery chronicling the history of the exchange and a small but nice museum going over the history of capitalism in Japan. It was definitely the most interesting exchange we’ve visited so far, although the BSE is up there too. We then walked around nearby Ginza, an upscale shopping district of luxury and high-end brands. We didn’t spend too much time as it was honestly too expensive to even look at.
In the afternoon, Sadako picked us up and took us to Mitsukoshi, a high-end department store. She showed us what she described as “real Japanese culture.” We saw a whole floor of traditional Japanese kimonos and another of pottery and ceramics. It is also worth mentioning that Sadako creates kimonos and has an annual exhibit at Mitsukoshi, where she displays here work. She is actually quite accomplished and has created kimonos for many heads of state (or their spouses) as well as for members of Japan’s aristocracy and imperial family. After that, she took us to her home and demonstrated some of her techniques to Joylani. We had tea and snacks and then went out to an awesome sushi dinner with Dr. Kojima. Luckily, he and I both love sushi and we ate everything, from fried eel spine to fresh sea urchin to amazing sashimi. I think I’m gonna miss Japan