Friday, February 05, 2010

Who's Up for Some Shabu-Shabu?

Getting the real thing in Shinjuku...

Stirring the pot, getting ready for some prime Kobe

The goods. Totally self-indulgent, totally good

Before: Maris about to dunk and swirl

After: Buttery kobe goodness

Just when you think you can't possibly eat another bite, 
they bring a huge plate of fresh noodles out for your shabu-shabu broth

Watching Sausage Being Made...

Laws are like sausages, it is better not to see them being made 
- Otto von Bismarck

At long last, I'm posting some pictures of Japanese government and law structures that Maris and I took during her December visit to Tokyo. Most of Japanese lawmaking and law enforcement is based out of Chiyoda, near Ginza. Included below are some shots of the Tokyo Imperial Palace, the National Diet Building and the Supreme Court.

Brushing up on my Japanese law before our walk 
(actually, I'm trying to figure out where the Imperial Palace is) 

The Tokyo Imperial Palace is the most fun to talk about. The grounds occupy roughly 7.5 square kilometers, and at the height of the 1980's property bubble were valued to be worth more than the entire real estate holdings in California. This is the main residence of the Emperor and Empress of Japan. In Japan's constitutional monarchy, the Emperor has practically zero power. Similar to other underemployed monarchs, this means plenty of time to party hard, act strange and fill the tabloids with all things trivial and not so trivial. Extremely private and introverted, the royal family is mostly out of sight except for its traditional New Years well-wishes to the public (from behind bullet-proof glass of course). 

Moat that separates the Imperial Palace from Tokyo proper

Nijubashi Bridge separates the Palace from the Palace Grounds

Can't escape the paparazzi

Maris with the Inner Palace guard tower in the background

Next up, from the symbolic seat of government to the place where the real action is, was the National Diet Building. The National Diet Building holds both houses of the Diet of Japan--the House of Representatives and the House of Councillors. The building definitely makes an impression with its iconic if not enigmatic pyramidal roof.

National Diet Building

Finally, we ended our walking tour of Japanese government sites by snapping a few photos of the Supreme Court of Japan building. Designed and built in 1974 by Okada Shinichi, this building sort of struck me as a bit ironic and oppressive--bare concrete walls, no windows, rather prison-like if you ask me. 

Supreme Court of Japan. No windows, no escaping the law...