It was only our second full day in Tokyo, but our time to check-out was soon approaching. However, we hadn’t really finished our travel plans for the rest of our time here in Tokyo so priority number one was figuring out the short-term hotel situation. Thankfully, we were able to extend our hotel by a couple of nights, giving us five days rather than two here.
For today’s ventures, we decided to visit a sword museum. It took a few minutes to find as it was in an oddly residential area, but we finally made it. It only took about 45 minutes to peruse the collection of various Samurai swords and I kept wondering what my nephews would think of their Aunt Jess and Uncle Tim getting to see katana swords like Leo uses.
A chart explaining the rather involved process of making a sword.
A sample of tools used.
Swords, swords, and more swords
A katana sword from the mid-14th century
Another katana sword from the early 14th century which was presented in the 15th century to the “chamberlain to Emperor Meiji” from a shogun.
Swords can have variations in minute details such as the degree and shape of shading on a blade. The shading is a result of the tempering of a very hard steel and a medium hard material. Here, it is a rounded shading at the tip. Other swords may have a shading that ends in a point, wavy, or irregular shapes to them.
The tiny gold “menuki” you see behind the fabric are not only decorative, they are there to help keep the hand from slipping.
Even the handles had a lot of detail put into them. The caps at the ends of the handle were placed there. The metal cap at the end, while decorative, served to reinforced the handle to prevent it from splitting. Another decorative cap is also fixed against the hilt.
An example of a sword and accessories: a small utility knife and a tanto dagger.
A “kogai” from the 15th or 16th century. This was used to somehow comb hair while the cured end was used to clean out the ears. Another variation of this was split down the middle, serving as chopsticks.
An example of sword hilts.
This sword was donated by the family of a business man who is credited with establishing the custom in Japan of wearing formal Western attire to weddings and funerals.
Sword hilt coasters. We were ready to buy them, but they were like $20 a piece! Surely someone we know can make this for us?
From there, the day only got better. We visited a shrine dedicated to a former emperor of Japan and had our first encounter with the cool sake casks (like wine barrels but more fun), we got to see two different traditional Japanese wedding procession, I got picked up some more temple stamps for my book, we visited the insane Harajuku district, and we got to play with owls!
A practice when visiting a shrine or temple is (if you pay) you may write a prayer on little tablet which would be hung with all of the other visitors’ prayers.
Every year, barrels of sake wrapped in straw are presented to the Meiji Shrine in honor of the Emperor Meiji and Empress Shoken who are enshrined here.
In keeping with this, some of the best wine makers in Burgundy also sent a barrel of wine as an offering.
The wood used to build this gate is about 1,200 years old.
I didn’t plan out many things ahead of time for our trip except for two things: a tea ceremony in Kyoto and going to an owl cafe in Tokyo. The owl cafe was in the Harajuku district- a haven for Japanese teenage girls.
This is Bob, a Eurasian Eagle Owl (the biggest species in the world). Just like my brother-in-law, he didn’t really want to be seen with me.
Bob, naturally, posed with Tim. No problem-o!
This is Kukku, an Indian Eagle Owl. She only wanted to look out the window, and didn’t want to be touched. I felt the most sorry for her.
Two barn owls, Canon on the left and Haku on the right. They liked it when you petted their cheeks and necks.
Mozuku, a Roufus Legged Owl
I tried another picture with Bob and Tim, and just before we hit the button, he turned his head away! He did this repeatedly.
Teeny, tiny Ohagi, a Little Owl. He was my favorite.
Back to Tim and Bob again.
Ohagi checking to make sure Tim’s ears are clean.
Tim and Bob hamming it up.
Wasabi, a Great Horned Owl “the strongest bird in North America and friendly with Bob.”
Haha, I finally got a picture with Bob. See how thrilled he looks!
Wasabi was much kinder about picture taking than Bob.
You would think that would be enough excitement for one day, but as we were strolling back towards our neighborhood, we saw the cutest little race. If you want to see a video, you’ll have to see it on my Facebook page or I can email it to you. Trust me, it’s cute.
Evidently this was the final match of the day, so tensions were high.
This one obviously wasn’t worried about the race.
This little girl wiped out going around the first corner, and was really upset that she lost.
Following all of that, we finished the day by having a glass of wine on the patio of a French restaurant and then had dinner of charcoal grilled fished, the best miso soup we’d ever had, rice, pickles, and a beer for about $7 a person. I think Tim just found his perfect restaurant. Too bad we were so excited we forgot to take pictures, but don’t worry- I’m sure we’ll be back.
Technology taking over…
It is not Eiffel Tower, but it will have to do.