Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Japan: Part 3: Tokyo

Thurs April 13

Goodbye, Kyoto! Hello, Tokyo!

We were a little leary of using Tokyo's transit with our bags but we made it if no problems. We stayed near Shibuya Station and it was a great area! The only real downside was that the elevator was broken so we had to haul our stuff (and later ourselves many times ha ha) up to the fourth floor. We started laundry and went grocery shopping which was on the next block.

We were meeting a friend the next day and I was worried about time so we went to Harajuku Station to see Meiji Jingu Shrine. Unfortunately it was undergoing construction for it's upcoming anniversary but the walk was really cool. The trees were massive and the lanterns were great.




The shrine is named for Emperor Meiji and Empress Shoken and the shrne was established in 1920. He passed away in 1912 and she in 1914. Over 100,000 trees were donated from all over Japan and even overseas to create the forest. The brochure guided you through how to pay respects at the shrine with pictures which I found helpful. They also had stamps!

We wandered in Yoyogi Park in the hopes we'd find a festival but the cherry blossoms (and festivals) all seemed to be gone. We wandered a bit and I played Pokemon. Man, there's stops everywhere! Very different from small town Pokemon.


After supper we went to the owl cafe that was right around the corner! Cafe Hoot Hoot was great! There was 7 owls of 6 different breeds. We took so many pictures. Though L's pictures are mostly of the owls and not me petting them... I was able to pet a snowy owl, barn owl, tawny owl, molted owl, and a massive Turkemenian Eagle owl. They had the option to hold them or feed them (for a fee) but we were ok just petting them. Snowy owl Shi-chan nibbled my fingers because I pet her belly and she didn't like that and big Toru-chan hissed at me when he was first brought down from the rafters so we let him settle a bit... and then I let L pet him first in case he was still angry.

I got a souvenir photo of one of the barn owls playing with a Hello Kitty toy and we also got to take home a feather! I took one from Shi-chan. With the coupon on their website it was Y1300 for 30 min and a drink per person. Worth it!



Tips

  • Many places and JR train stations will have stamps for you. There's often paper on hand but I had backups just in case.
  • Be brave and try new foods... like pizza with ham and corn that looked like Hawaiian pizza.


Fri April 14

We slept in later than we did in Kyoto. Not entirely sure why. I nearly killed myself climbing up the ladder to the bunkbed. Note to self: take off socks first. I said L's bed looked softer whereas mine went "thunk" when I laid down.

We left the apartment about 8:30 so we could avoid the work crowd and make our way back to Harajuku Station. The timing worked but nothing was open! It was about 9:00 and nothing seemed to open until 10! We sat in smoker's corner playing on my phone and reading the book I'd brought before thing started to open and we went to the cookie cafe-store we saw near by.

Cookie Time had some great looking snacks and we each got a cookie. It's apparently a New Zealand brand and the cookie dough is made in NZ and shipped to them where they bake it fresh. I loved their mascot statue. I'll hold hands with any statue/mascot or pose like it. It's my thing, I guess.


Next up was Takeshita Dori which is a long, bright, colourful, and crowded shopping street. The Daiso dollar store here was awesome! (Much better than the one closer to Shibuya). We stopped to have a crepe in a mall. It didn't have the selection like the stalls on the street level but it had a place to sit and I made a mess of myself.


We slowly made our way back home along the "fancy store" street and passed a lot of fancy names we recognized and some we didn't so I assumed they were extra fancy. We stopped at Kiddy Land a toy store with 4 floors of awesome-ness!


We stopped for lunch at a sushi-go-round that said they could help us English speakers. We tried some things we didn't recognize and some we knew. One thing was weird and I so didn't like it but one fish one was good... but I have no idea what it was! We had sushi with mini hamburgers on top.

We found a tiny pet store and the prices were insane! I thought i was crazy for wanting a Newfoundland dog for $2000 but a French bulldog puppy was for sale for about $10,000! I had to stop and count the zeros! Shit, if I paid that much for a pet I'm sure I'd dress them up all the time too!
I was starting to be shocked when I DIDN'T see a dog dressed up.


We met up with our friend for supper. She had been on a exchange at our high school and lived in Tokyo (she's Japanese). At supper we tried sashimi chicken... that means "raw" ya'll. We survived but it was weird. L tried the squid but I didn't because I was expecting like rings of squid but it was athe whole little body. Nope. Nope! She took us through the scramble crossing and showed us some cool stores. She worked near we were staying and had to commute at least an hour each way.

Tips

  • Y300 seems to be a typical "snack" price like cookies and mochi
  • Many bathrooms won't have towels to dry your hands so carry hand sanitizer or hand towels (that are for sale everywhere. It took me forever to figure out why they were everywhere...)
  • Say "excuse me" in Japanese and people will move for you. It sounds like "sue-me-ma-sen". It wasone of my most used phrases.
  • No tips are required at restaurants.
  • Good stores: Daiso (dollar store), Don Quijote (everything and more store), Book Off! (used books with an English section)
  • Get a meto card (IC card) so you don't have to figure out fares on the transit; instead you just tap and go. Pasmo and Suica are the big names. You can also use them at some stores and vending machines,