August 20, 2010

Hitchhiking to Tokyo and Back

Bruce, Andrew and Erica

I had a week-long summer holiday this month, so I took Andrew out of his school for a week-- he'd already had a week off, all they get at his intensive Japanese learning program-- and we headed for Tokyo to visit Andrew's mom and sisters. We took our preferred method, hitchhiking, to not only save a bit on transportation,  but so we meet people and talk. On trains and buses, people are usually very polite-- meaning silent, but our hitchhiking hosts always want to talk. We posted earlier (here) how it works.

Both directions, we weren't disappointed. We got one ride straight to Tokyo from a kind couple that we met at a highway rest area near our home. They live in Tokyo, but he's from Hokkaido and she's from Hong Kong.

We had a lively conversation about Hong Kong-- I lived near there and visited Hong Kong often-- and about the cultural differences between China and Japan, mixed marriages in Japan, and more.

On the way back, an engineer picked us up who's traveled extensively worldwide as part of his work manufacturing solar panels.

Our arrival in Tokyo was in an area we'd never been to before, and at a sight we'd never seen-- the now 400 meters high Tokyo 'Sky Tree'

It will be 634 meters when completed by the end of this year-- nearly twice as tall as the present Tokyo Tower at 333 meters. Like the The CN Tower in Toronto (553 m.), the main purpose is for TV broadcasts-- but it sure makes an impressive landmark.

Sōka, Saitama

This month as been exceptionally hot and humid, but we got some relief for most of our week in Tokyo due to a typhoon passing west and north of us-- making for some beautiful skies.

However, the highlight of our trip was visiting family, of course.

Andrew shopping with his mom and Naomi, his sister

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