I had been a little concerned about meeting the expectations of our first Japan visitors. Would Japan seem foreign enough? Exotic enough? Would they like it?? Chris and I were gratified to hear Hannie and Justin say at the end of day one, “I am over-stimulated. Everything is so…Japan!” Excellent! The four of us spent the first part of New Year’s Day tromping around the Imperial Palace moat, which was being cleared for the Jan 2 Emperor’s Greeting by these nice SCUBA divers. People lined up outside the palace to wave to the entering cars of dignitaries from all different nations. The Ambassador of China waved back at us! We all agreed the trees around the palace look like the trees out of Super Mario Brothers. Then we headed over to Asakusa to see Old Edo and Senso-ji. Whoa. I knew the temple saw more than one million visitors on New Year’s but I did not know the entire shopping street and beyond would be crammed with people waiting in line to enter the temple. We had already done our Hatsumode (first temple visit), so we skipped the hours-long line and explored the old city. We had a surprisingly inexpensive dinner around dark at a little yakitori place. The first place we stopped at smiled and given us the little x—sorry, not welcome! At the second place we realised why. No English menus and no English-speaking staff means we were quite troublesome, but eventually we gave up trying to read the all-Japanese menu and just pointed to the diners’ plates around us. “We’ll have that please!!” That worked nicely. Then it was back to the trains. Hannie and Justin are practically pros now! By the way, Chris got a Wii for Christmas and I got Super Mario Brothers. My, but doesn’t that work out nicely? I am making a heart shape with my fingers. Chris is holding an invisible wiimote, of course. We stopped at Shibuya on their way back to our house. Have you ever seen the scramble crossing so uncrowded?? I was shocked, but it made sense seeing as nothing was open. Except Starbucks. Excellent. So for the last time…Happy New Year!!