Simanaitis Says

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THE JAPAN POCKET GUIDE entered my collection in 09/06, meaning it was already 48 years old when I acquired it. Hmm…. Now that it’s 64 years old, I wonder how well it describes my own Tokyo adventures. Here are tidbits and pics gleaned with this in mind. 

Japan The Pocket Guide, Japan Travel Bureau, Tokyo, 1958. 

“Japan,” the J.T.B. described, “is the land of color, charm, and courtesy where the East blends with the West and the old with the new.” New in the guide’s case being 1958. 

Tokyo International Airport, Haneda, Tokyo. This and following images from Japan The Pocket Guide.

I didn’t realize it on my first trip to Japan in 1980 that Narita International had opened only two years before. Prior to that, Haneda was Tokyo’s International Airport, just 16 minutes south of Ginza. 

The Imperial Hotel, Tokyo. 

The Imperial Hotel. Frank Lloyd Wright’s Imperial Hotel, 1923–1968, was the second Imperial across from Hibiya Park. The original one was built during the Meiji Era in 1890. On my first and other trips, I stayed at the third Imperial, one of the grandest hotels in the world.

Indeed, I became well-connected at this Imperial: Once when checking in, I was next to a particularly obnoxious American who was belittling the desk clerk for no reason whatsoever. I’m not usually a butt-in type, but his behavior ticked me off and I told him so. He backed down. 

The check-in lady later thanked me, and, for years afterward, I would receive birthday wishes from the Imperial. 

I once visited the Wright Imperial’s central lobby and reflecting pool as reconstructed at Meiji-Mura, a wonderful outdoor museum about a half-hour drive north of Nagoya.

Tokyo Tower.

Tokyo Tower. I’ve never been to the top of Tokyo Tower, built the year of The Pocket Guide’s publication. At 819 ft. it’s dwarfed by the Eiffel Tower’s 1083-ft., but it’s certainly a prominent landmark. 

Nor have I visited Tokyo since the Tokyo Skytree became the tallest structure in Japan in 2011, now the third tallest structure in the world at 2080 ft.

Kabuki-za. I’ve enjoyed kabuki performances many times at Kabuki-Za..

Kabuki Theater.

Indeed, I was there when the Count-Down Clock read 189 days. Its revamped home was scheduled to open in April 2013. 

With Seiko precision, the clock identified it as October 24, 2009, at 3:50:54 p.m. 

Sumida Fireworks. The Sumida River splits Tokyo, and each summer, typically the last Saturday in July, the Sumidagawa Fireworks Festival (隅田川花火大会, Sumidagawa Hanabi Taikai) draws close to a million of folks to Asakusa district. 

Sumida fireworks.

Asakusa is at the eastern end of Toyko’s Ginza Line, and one year I joined the crowds to enjoy the festival, a good time being had by all. 

But when the fireworks ended, incredibly long queues formed at the station, so I (and many other festival-goers) set off by foot. I passed a goodly number of already overly crowded Ginza Line stations, with the general plan of eventually getting to where I could hop on for the trip back to the hotel. 

Google Maps indicates the Imperial was a 5.9-km walk (3.7 miles; 1 hr 17 min). It was a pleasant evening. I was younger then.

Tokyo memories remain strong. ds

© Dennis Simanaitis,, 2022  

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