i'm not sure how coherent these posts are going to be but i will give it the old college try or ganbatte it the hell up, as it were. so let's get started with tokyo 2015!
leff and i arrived at narita at around 3pm tokyo time. after purchasing round trip n'ex tickets and our suica cards (love the penguin mascot!) we were set for transportation for the week. we were also setting ourselves up for arrival at tokyo station during rush hour.
i'm telling you now, we did not board tokyo metro during the hours of 7a-9a, or from 4pm-7pm for the duration of our trip. tokyo station at 5pm was enough of a crush. still, crowds in tokyo move briskly and with purpose so it was easy to navigate.
oh wait! ha! i almost forgot to mention the tv crew who managed to stop us for an interview at narita (i blame just getting off the plane for my inability to avoid this) about what we were planning to do. they wanted to follow us around certain destinations filming our reaction to things like hokkaido cheesecake (we did not find any but we DID find a hokkaido antenna store (more about that in a later post!)) and a hanshin tigers baseball game (we ended up scrapping the sidetrip to yokohama where we would have seen the tigers play the dena baystars but i watched parts of two tigers games on tv.) they were a nice film crew but i'm glad we skipped it.
holy crap when am i going to get to the pictures, right? how about now? because not much happened on our first night other than leff getting himself some ramen from a noodle shop with a ticket machine (!!!) and blessed, blessed sleep.
the next morning, however, we were up bright and early.
you want to know why travel guides recommend that you go to the tsukiji fish market? it's because it's the only place that is open when you're jet lagged. (it is also really cool.)
a lot of construction was going on in hamamatsucho. no problem though! everything was labeled with helpful and attractive signs that are easy to understand even if you cannot read japanese.
even where the practice of goods examination began is labeled. (i am guessing this has to do with import/export (?) since it is located so close to a post office.)
honestly though, i love signage in japan.
if there is not an official person available to direct you, you will always be able to find your way because of it.
the flashing warning lights are also really great.
so! the fish market! it's actually pretty cool. a lot of it is closed to tourists as it is a very busy working market. here is a section where we were not allowed.
you will know you are getting close to the correct area when you see this sign.
we were standing around looking a bit confused as to where to go when one of the truck drivers motioned us over. he then proceeded to mark the tourist areas on a map and motion to where they were located. he was SO NICE! (EVERYONE in japan was extra kind!) i got to say "arigatou gozaimasu" for the first time outside of the hotel! ha! it would not be the last time i would use that phrase.
after some other tourists saw us with a map, they latched onto us so i could explain in english. no matter where i go, i am always asked for directions. i guess i look like i know where i'm going and/or i'm always standing out of the way with a paper map in hand. hahaaaa i am everyone's tour guide. :/
anyway! there are TONS of little shops in the tourist section of the fish market. you probably already know this. but did you know that this is what edamame looks like as a plant?! i didn't!
we didn't get any sushi but leff did get a rolled fish pastry that was delicious. (the name of this escapes me at the moment. apologies.)
edit: leff says this is edomaki. his comment on this post is worth a read. thanks, leff!
if you know anything about japan, you know that aesthetics matter. even down to the manhole covers.
the buildings can also be quite attractive and/or interesting. case in point, on the way back to the hotel for a much needed nap, leff and i passed the nakagin capsule tower!!
i am sad that this is slated for demolition as it's one of my and leff's favorite buildings in tokyo. however, it was nice to see it in person even if we didn't stay at the airbnb rental there.
we took a short walk around the neighborhood to get our bearings before the aforementioned nap as it was a beautiful day.
(how did i take so many pictures of a depeopled tokyo?! lol. i guess maybe it was super early/before work.)
later that day, leff and i hoofed it to tokyo tower. it has been a dream of mine to visit this tower ever since i was a kid. (i am a lifetime toho godzilla fan, you see.) so being in a neighborhood near the tower was a constant thrill. i would often see it between buildings! :D
it is exactly as i imagined it as a kid in the 70s (and i took a picture of it through my sunglasses to demonstrate that. ha!)
we cut through shiba park to get to the tower. there was a small shrine.
there was also someone doing tai chi and a squat toilet in the public toire. (no, i won't post a picture. i may be enough of nerd to take a photo of one but not enough of a nerd to post it.)
just like everything else in japan, tokyo tower has many mascots. here are two of them.
the views from the tower were superb! it was here that i started to realize just how gargantuan tokyo really is.
sadly, this is the closest i got to seeing fuji-san. it was very hazy while we were there. next time!
ah, skytree in the distance. i'll talk more about skytree in a later post because HAHAHA WE WENT THERE ON THE OFFICIAL 3RD ANNIVERSARY OF ITS OPENING D:
but back to tokyo tower. there is a roving information bot that is *adorable*!
there is also this signage. we did not go up any higher though.
i loved tokyo tower. so much so that i bought a 500 yen plastic replica of it at the gift shop. (amazingly, i got it back to the states in one piece (which is also the name of the treasure but that is a story for later.))
at the base of the tower it is suntory time when this bar is open.
there is also a small crepe stand that sells ICE CREAM here are some sampurus
and a real cone.
ice cream in japan is AMAZING! the chocolate part of this cone had an almond undertone. idk, all food in japan is great. i am not even just referring to sushi or noodles or the other things you think of when you think of japanese food. no, ALL OF IT even sandwiches from 7-11.
back through the park past another shrine
where we saw some fish left over from golden week.
i have always loved this manhole cover. i'm so happy that i got to see one irl!
i think at this point we took another nap (come on. we crossed the international date line. that will really mess with your circadian rhythms.) but we woke up around 7ish and took the electronic robot train over rainbow bridge to odaiba. the main attraction besides the architecture (none of my photos of the fuji building or rainbow bridge came out. sighhhhhh) was,of course, the super big gundam in front of diver city.
just like everyone else who goes there, i took video of the gundam. at least it is mercifully short.
there was a marathon going on behind us while this was happening. haha!
near diver city is venus fort. they really carry through with the rainbow theme here.
and there is, inexplicably, a free car museum
which you can walk through to get to a replica of venice?? hahaha i love this place. it is just spectacle for spectacle's sake.
a japanese language version of "how great thou art" was being piped into the mall. it was superb.
as was the motel heartbreak house that i spotted on our way back through the car museum.
saw some rainbow pocky! did not purchase as it was giant pocky and i didn't have enough room for that and every kind of kit kat in japan in my bag.
we did not use the american potato chip method to get back to hamamatsucho.
no, we used the electric robot train again. and even though we got off at the wrong stop at first, it was easy to find our way to 7-11 to purchase some drinks and crunky for later.
TOMORROW ON RAKKA AND LEFF GO TO TOKYO: we head to shibuya FOR KARAOKE AT THE PLACE WHERE THEY FILMED THAT SCENE IN LOST IN TRANSLATION, i fail to get a kit kat sandwich, we WALKWALKWALK all the way to harajuku and plonk down a ton of yen at KIDDYLAND MEJI-JINGU oh, man it was exhausting BUT I WOULD NOT TRADE IT FOR THE WORLD check back tomorrow!