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Monday, May 17, 2010

Japan - Tokyo, Part 6

After the Senso-Ji Temple, we took this delightful cruise to connect with the Shinkansen train that would deliver us to our hotel station in Shinagawa.  I was trying to picture my current position relative to the hotel and the river's course through Tokyo when this happened.....

Isn't that a jaw dropper!  I was so stunned, it was almost past when I snapped this photo.  And just beyond the boat, behind the elevated freeway, stand an impressive pair of buildings, one gold and the other black, that I will return to later in this post.  It's a great story.

It's time to board our craft which can easily hold 200 people or more.  Every seat is sure to be taken so try to arrive early at the departure dock.  There are two levels and with all the people, the bottom level will ride low in the water.  Kay and I were on this level and while I had no reservations, I made sure I was close to the exit.  Although there are many craft on the river, these boats cut through swells very well and the ride is smooth and easy.

This lady and her sister were waiting for their daughters.  In quite a good pantomime, she made it known that she wanted me to reserve the seats on my bench for them.  I smiled and responded with the universal closed fist and raised thumb to indicate I understood.  Once we were all situated, she raised her hand above her head, then using her index finger in a sweeping circular motion to include everyone else on board, said "Jap-pan-eese".  With a toothy grin, she used my thumbs up sign to point to herself, saying "CHIN-eese" and reached across the table to touch my thumb.  Well, all right!  Chinese!  Go team!


Views along the Sumida River are difficult to capture.  This watercraft, like all transportation in Japan, moves fast.  If one began at either end of the route, you would travel under fifteen bridges.  Hinode Pier on the Tokyo Bay end of the cruise connects with at least four alternate boat lines going to various tourist destinations around the inner bay area.  We found that planes, trains, buses, taxis and boats were uniformly fast, clean and efficient.

Two more views of the boat, fully occupied, riding low in the water.

At the beginning of the post, I mentioned that I would be returning to these two buildings.  The business area of the historic Asakusa District has always been the home of Asahi Beer corporate offices.  This is their new home.   Asahi Beer wanted the best designer in the world so they retained Phillipe Starck.  One could almost say there is the eclectic genius of Phillpe Starck and then there is everyone else.  For an insight into his incredible range, click here.

The shimmering building on the left holds the corporate offices.  It is designed to look like a glass of beer with white foam at the top.  The black building on the right contains the retail sales of Asahi Beer and upscale restaurants.  It is built to look like the packaging of Asahi Super Dry beer.  The lustrous black granite surface has dozens of tiny light portholes that resemble bubbling effervescence at night.  At the top is the golden foam as it appears when being blown off the surface of the beer.

Not everyone is impressed.  With people firmly in both camps, opinions differ and it has stirred quite a controversy.  There are those that are amazed at the creative ingenuity and like the skyscraper's impressive size.  Others feel it is a jarring note, too modern and tall for historic Asakusa, and look upward with a critical eye at Asahi's Super Dry golden foam.

 They call it "O Gon No Unko"
"The Golden Pooh"

Asahi Beer and Tokyo River Cruise - April 10, 2010
All editorial and photographic rights reserved by Arizona Skies.


  1. You would be a perfect travel blogger. Oh, but you are!!! :)
    I'm not so crazy about those modern buildings but these look ...different...
    I wouldn't mind a boat ride like that...
    Beautiful post again, thanks for sharing!


  2. Another interesting post. The boat trip must have been fun. Actually in our last cruise there were a lot of Japanese. They all stuck together, wore much nicer clothes than the rest of the passengers, had their own tourist guides and went into their own buses while in port. It also looked like they bought a bunch of souvenirs. You took some good notes and it shows.

  3. Blogitse,

    Wouldn't that be fun? Travel all over the world at someone else's expense! I like the buildings, but I don't have to live next to them. The boat ride was really a lot of fun, and made for a nice break from being on my feet most of the day.


    I was impressed with how ladylike and well dressed the women were and how spotless everything was kept. I wish we as a nation were more fastidious. If I don't keep a journal, everything seems to run together. It helps me focus when I return and am faced with so many pictures.