We awoke early for our first morning in Japan after a good night’s rest and were ready for a good breakfast. The hotel had a buffet that opened early at Coffee House Jurin, but we settled on something from their set menu. Tea, juice, corn flakes, choice of bread, and scrambled eggs made for a hearty start to to the day. I had heard that the Japanese like their eggs on the soft and runny side but did not realize this also applied to scrambled eggs. It was a different consistency than my Western palette was used to, but they were still delicious. Two set meals cost 5082¥; I think this is the first time this has actually registered with me. That breakfast set us back about $50US. Yikes… It was good but not that good.
Our tour group was one of several gathering in the hotel lobby around 7:50AM; we chatted with a woman from Australia for bit (Fun Fact: It is a ten hour flight from Sydney to Tokyo). She was visiting a friend in Tokyo for five days (lucky sheila) but was taking a day tour before meeting up with her friend. We also met an elderly couple from D.C. that was not only visiting Japan but was heading off to China right after that. May all of us have their energy and zest for life in our golden years, not to mention the money to enjoy all of it. None of them were on our “Cityrama Tokyo Morning Tour”.
At 8:05AM, the tour wrangler loaded us all up on various buses that would take us to Hamamatsucho bus terminal where we board our actual tour bus at 9AM. Our tour guide was a cute college girl named Rika with a solid grasp of the English language. The first stop on the tour was the Meiji Shrine and turned out to be my favorite stop.
Meiji is one of the more famous Shinto shrines featuring a number of large gates. Leading us with a typical Japanese tour guide flag, Rika explained the history and customs of Shinto and shrine visits. Always cross through the gate and never go around it. One purifies themselves at the well or fountain by pouring water on your left hand, then your right, then pouring water in your left hand, and using it rinse out your mouth. Finally, you tip the cup of the dipper up and toward you to rinse off the handle.
To pray at the actual shrine, you throw a coin into the offering box, bow twice, clap twice to attract the attention of the spirits, and bow once more. A few families were bringing their babies to be blessed by the priests. The path leading to the temple complex and the complex itself was vast and beautiful. Our visit was not too long, and we were soon boarding the bus for our next stop at the East Imperial Garden.