Friday, June 28, 2013

Tokyo in a Day

When we were mapping out our schedule, I truly thought we had four days planned for Tokyo. Somehow with transfers, and a planned day trip to Mt. Fuji, that has turned into a day and a half. Since yesterday was raining, and we had to leave by 3:30 for a baseball game, that left today to explore Tokyo. By the time we woke up, had breakfast and started our adventures, that left 12 hours. You get the idea. We just did not have a lot of time to fully explore Tokyo, so here are our adventures in a nutshell.

We gave up on the 2-day metro card I was proud of myself for buying at the Tokyo airport. It works on a bunch of lines, none of which were convenient to what we were doing until we broke down and bough the OTHER pass. Suddenly everything we wanted to do was on the first pass. Oy vey!

I designed a quick tour of Tokyo.


This looked like the Central Park of Tokyo – great for walking around, lots of things to do. We kept seeing signs with pandas on them, so we followed them. This led us to the Ueno Zoo. My pre-trip research discouraged me from
going there. Our favorite zoo is the National Zoo where animal have wide open spaces. I was warned the animals would be in tiny cages. Yes, this was true. The cost was much less than anticipated (600 YEN for Don and I ($6.50), and Ashley was free). From the main gate we could see the panda area. The female panda is in seclusion as she is on a baby watch, but her mate was on display. The first time we saw him he was sleeping. We went back a couple of hours ago and he was putting on quite a show chomping on bamboo – stripping off the bad parts first, of course. The zoo also had a very cute red panda who we caught eating dinner, then saw him sleeping in a tree. The human benefit to the smaller cages is that the animals are up close. I’d still rather see them have space. The giraffe was reaching his neck into the okapi space to eat his bushes. Man do they have long necks! We saw a bearded dragon in the reptile area that made us think of Sandy, and other animals we tend to see at the Churchville Nature Center. Ashley found some cute chameleon earrings and a panda i-Pod case. We actually enjoyed it.


As previously stated, we were a bit templed-out by this point. The same feeling would have prevailed about churches in Italy or Paris. So when we stumbled upon this temple, we took a few pictures and kept walking. In hindsight, I should have stopped to visit the Nakamise-dori (street of traditional souvenirs). I love the vivid reds and bright colors. The blue sky (such a rarity on our trip) was a nice treat, too.


We successfully walked down to Asakusa and an area that was not destroyed by earthquakes or WWII. Everything here is much older. Felt soothing. We planned to catch a boat cruise down the river, but our timing was off. Instead we caught a subway to GINZA. We enjoyed a stroll along the river that took us past the
building that looks like it has a turd coming out of it. It has been a lot of fun seeing things in person that before this we only saw in pictures. For Don seeing the landmarks used in the Panasonic camera owners’ manuals has been a treat.


The Ginza district is like the Times Square of Tokyo, plus lots of department stores. Ashley loved the Sony Building. We saw a 200-inch 4K TV set showing images of World Heritage Sites that made you feel as if you were
visiting the sites yourself. We took lots of pictures of the area at dusk. I loved walking through Printemps Department Store and hearing a little bit of French. The price tags were enough to keep me from buying anything.


We wanted to explore Roopongi (where Hard Rock CafĂ© is located) when it wasn’t raining. Well, since it was nighttime, that also changed the atmosphere. We found  a cheap Italian place (dinner for the three of us for less than $20) and skeddadled back to the metro. We caught a train back to Shinjuku. This was our first experience with a super crowded train. Can’t say that any of us liked it! This was at 10PM, we dread seeing it at 7 AM tomorrow when we are heading to Mt. Fuji – the newest World Heritage Site.

It might not sound like much, but at the end of the day I had 32,000 steps on my pedometer. One day isn't enough.

Ashley was hoping for an early bedtime. We got her to bed by 11. That’s early, right? She did ask for 3 meals today instead of our usual 2. We managed that successfully. We also nearly made it through the day without ice cream being a meal. If only her lunch at the zoo (pancakes) did not also include a dollop of ice cream and a piece of chocolate shaped like a panda. We’ll do a better job about eating veggies once we get back to NJ. I promise! We’ll also sleep for more than 5 hours a night when we get home. (So far, jet lag has robbed us of that opportunity.)

More pictures of Tokyo

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