Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Japan: Part 4: Tokyo & Yokohama

Saturday April 15th

Today we went to see the Imperial Palace Gardens. While they're right next to the Imperial Palace where the royal family lives there's only a small sliver that you're able to see of the actual living quarters but the gardens are amazing.

We had to go from Shibuya to Tokyo station and our friend had warned us that Tokyo Station was massive and easy to get lost in. We arrived, thankfully, at the North End of the station which is exactly the direction we wanted to be in.  We had bought an IC metro card so we didn't have to figure out how much fares cost as it was automatically deducted. It was an easy walk to get to the garden.

Admission into the garden is free but they give you a little token which I've read is to keep track of how many people are in the garden at closing time. The garden has approximately 36 different areas or things to see so definitely plan on spending time there. We liked just to sit and enjoy the beautiful scenery and the blooming flowers in the nice weather while sending pictures to Facebook for my friends in Canada that were having a snowstorm.

After the garden we went back to Tokyo station and I tried to find a bento lunch box in the shape of a bullet train which is supposed to be a specialty from the station unfortunately I wasn't able to find that bento box but I did find another kind and we took those on a short trip towards Tokyo Tower. We ate our bento boxes near Zojoji Temple and explored it briefly before heading over to Tokyo Tower. The temple was actually used in the Wolverine movie for you movie buffs.

We had an originally planned not to go up Tokyo Tower and instead to go up the Tokyo Metro Government building. We didn't end up going to that area so we went up Tokyo Tower of hoping that it was clear enough for us to see Mount Fuji that day unfortunately (it wasn't). There's also a One Piece theme park-store thing in the Tower as well as a little shopping mall so we managed to spend a good deal of time there plus I got a pressed penny so I was happy.

Sunday the 16th

Today we went to Yokohama which was approximately 30 minutes away from Shibuya. My original reason for going to Yokohama was to visit the Cup Noodle Museum because I had heard that you got to make your own instant noodles to take home. Unfortunately that wasn't quite what I expected but overall Yokohama was amazing.

I thought the making your own cup noodles was going to be more hands-on but unfortunately, while I understand the reasoning, it was more a point to your flavor and it was done for you kind of thing. We also went to the food court they called The Noodle Bazaar which was supposed to set up to resemble an Asian night market which I thought was very cool. Here we got to try different types of noodles from around the world (8 different countries plus Cup Noodle brand).. I tried the Vietnamese and Chinese noodles. t\The Vietnamese was my favorite and the Chinese was a bit spicier than I had thought it would be.

Ordering the food was a lot different than what I was used to. You have to use a little machine that would give you a little print out that you hand it over to the people working at the various kitchens. I have never seen that before and was unsure of how to work it thankfully some nice woman nearby showed me how to do it and I was able to tell L what to do so she wasn't confused. I had my strangest food item of all my trip in this bazaar. I thought it was ice cream with cookies that resembled onions and shrimp to make it look like you were eating noodles but it was real dehydrated onions and shrimp on my ice cream.

After that we didn't really have any definite plans for the day so we decided to walk along the water and the many parks. I'm so glad we did that because we managed to visit during their Garden Festival. The sheer number of just flowers and displays and all the work that must go into this Festival (which I'm assuming is an annual thing) was just astonishing. My favorite thing was hunting for the mascot Garden Bear's picture. I wish I could have gotten a little plushie but they didn't appear to have any merchandise for sale. Near the end of the main park we visited there was a doll museum that I had read briefly about and thought it would be fun to attend. While it was interesting and did have a wide variety of dolls from around the world, it wasn't quite what I expected.

After wandering what seemed to be a large chunk of the city we went home for the day and ate ore noodles. Oh I almost forgot to mention for you Studio Ghibli fans, Yokohama is where From Up On Poppy Hill takes place and I was actually able to stand on the hill where the main character is said to live. .

The 17th 18th and 19th I visited Disney which I will cover in a separate post.

Thursday April 20th

This is our last day in Tokyo so we had a slow start to the day. We decided to revisit some of the stores that our friend had shown us as we didn't have time to wander around with her partially because we were dead tired. The Daiso near Shibuya wasn't quite as nice as the other ones I had visited but it was still nice to pick up some little souvenirs. At BookOff! I was hoping to get some manga to read but unfortunately they didn't have any in English section. I did however pick up a very cheap Doctor Who book though. We also picked up a few things at the Don Quijote "everything" store. Besides some shopping we didn't do much as we felt we had seen everything that we needed to see

Friday April 21st

We didn't fly out until later that afternoon but we had to leave our apartment so we waited as long as we could before leaving and then we went to hang out at Shibuya station with the all our luggage. The duffle bag I had brought for souvenirs was jam packed. After some trial and error we figured out how to get our passes to use the Narita Express train and make it to the airport.

We had hoped to do some shopping at the duty-free but we have to walk so far in the massive airport and some places have such long lines that we weren't able to do very much of anything. I was very hungry but I was concerned about not getting my food soon enough to board the plane as it was we wasted time. While others were boarding I was grabbing some snacks and a variety of Kit Kats to munch on. The line wasn't very long at all but it took FOREVER!

The nice thing about premium economy is that we didn't have to stand in line we just wandered up and they let us on right away. It was about nine hours back to Vancouver and then about an hour back to Calgary and then of course the drive home. It was a very long day as I can't sleep on planes.

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