On the first evening, I hit some shops in Ginza.
The next day, I participated in a traditional tea ceremony:
We ground up matcha from tea leaves, then whisked it with water. We learned the proper way to take tea as a guest, too. Lots of tradition, and every action is steeped in meaning and is thought through.
If I were to try to distill my impression of Japanese culture into a single word, it would be "considerate". People are very considerate towards others, and it seems like a lot of thought and care go into everything.
After that, I went to a shopping street popular with teens - Harajuku. Lots of clothes, cute things, crepes with tons of whipped cream (no thanks for me).
After that, I went to an Owl Cafe, which offered owl beer, so I drank with owl friends. I keep tasting notes on the beers that I try, and on the rare occasion when I have food to go with a somewhat special beer, I take beer and food pairing notes. I give emoticon beer icons (1-5) to rate beers, and I give fork and knife icons to rate pairings. This time, I gave a "company" rating... the owls were the best company, so they earned 5 smileys or hearts.... I don't remember which one I used.
There was actually a waiting list to get into this small cafe. While I was waiting and watching the owls through the windows, a big flurry bursted to my right. It was an owl from a cafe patron who was visiting. BYOO - bring your own owl - there were a couple of guests who brought their pet owls to hang out at this place. Very unique.
Friday, Jun 3:
On Friday morning, I got in a run at 4:20am at the Imperial Palace (which was now feeling like "old stomping grounds"), finishing 11.2 mi in 1:34:18, 8:25 average... finished by 6am. I pushed the pace, to see what would happen. Fortunately, my legs were ready from the start, and felt like going tempo pace. I wonder if it's because they got used to speedwork in Taiwan. Fortuantely, I kept it up pretty well.
Ran from the hotel to the park in 9:11, then had ~5K loop splits of 26:00, 25:52, and 24:41, then ran back in 8:32. Yes.
I had dinner that night with Japanese co-workers. Beautiful food, with special people. We tried many uniquely Japanese dishes - very tasty.
It was a nice way to say goodbye to a place I grow to love and appreciate even more, each time I visit. This is really the last trip for now, but one day, I hope to return again.