A visit to the Imperial Garden

Dear bear friends

Our first day in Tokyo, and oh! so busy!

Miss Cynthia and I woke early. Even though the sun was not yet up, the streets of Tokyo were wide awake! Rivers of cars flowed through elevated freeways, snaked around tall buildings, backed up before stoplights at ground level.

Time for breakfast! Miss Cynthia chose a traditional Japanese breakfast: rice, pickled green vegetables, and a mixture of bamboo shoots and seaweed! Surprise, surprise--it was delicious! To eat breakfast as the Japanese do, fill your bowl with rice, not cereal, and top with small amounts of vegetables. Hold the bowl close to your mouth, and eat with chopsticks!

Having breakfasted (and feeling quite brave), Miss Cynthia, Doctor Steve and I set off down the busy street. We stopped at Lawsons--in Japan, a small store like a 7/11 or an AM/PM mart. What is this? In the candy aisle? Why, it's Tamagotchi CANDY! Yes, little candy sprinkles that come in a Tamagotchi-shaped container. Miss Cynthia and I smile, because we LOVE Tamagotchis. Meanwhile, Doctor Steve is looking at ganga comics: Japanese comic books with superheroes and maidens in distress.

Stop shopping! It's time for some serious sightseeing!

Where better to begin seeing Japan's sights than the Imperial Palace Gardens? Japan's Emperor, Akihito, lives in the Imperial Palace in the center of Tokyo. Although the palace grounds are open only two days a year (December 23, the Emperor's Birthday, and January 2, a national holiday), we are welcome to walk in the beautiful East Palace Garden.

It is beautiful! Tidy, manicured azaleas and boxwoods and magnolias tower over smooth green grass. Each shady spot shelters several "salarymen": Japanese office workers, enjoying their lunches in the beautiful surroundings.

The Imperial Palace is surrounded by a large moat--and in the moat, huge and beautiful carp, called koi, swim with a flash of gold, silver, black and white. Some Japanese are feeding the koi, who swim so close to the surfacethat their heads appear above the water!

Many classes of schoolchildren have come to visit the Imperial Gardens. They wear uniforms: white shirts, neckties (for boys AND girls), jackets and trousers or skirts. Each group of children marches from place to place led by a teacher--and all the teachers hold a small, bright-colored pennant.

Gather round, pupils! Follow the flag!

There are very few ganjin, or foreigners, on the streets. When the schoolchildren see me, they smile! Japanese students study English for 10 years, so the children wave and say, "Hi!" as we pass. I wave my paw, and say, "Konnichi-wa!", and the children are delighted!

It's fun to be an American bear in Tokyo!

Your bear friend,

Perry Bear Ewer

Perry's Travels: