We made the trip from Shanghai to Beijing on the high-speed train in less than 5 hours, zipping along at over 300 km/h. The day before we took this trip the Wenzhou high-speed train crash occurred, spurring strong public discussion of official mismanagement that seems on the right track.
Built for the 2008 Olympics, the Beijing National Stadium is a marvel -- even the light fixtures match the Bird's Nest.
And having visited the Great Wall, the essential Beijing pilgrimage, we can finally leave China.
Which we did, and arrived at the Lutheran Itchigaya Center guesthouse in Tokyo.
We joined throngs at the Sensoji Temple incense burner and 'bathed' in the smoke, thereby ensuring a year of good luck.
The center of Tokyo is the Imperial Palace where examples of classic Japanese architecture -- gates, bridges, and watchtowers -- have survived since the 17th century.