Japan 2016 Day 3: Tokyo

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

In the morning we woke up to an earthquake!  The whole room was rolling and it took longer than it should have to figure out what was going on.  John thought James was shaking the bunk bed.  We found a door frame to stand in, and waited it out.  As it turns out, it was a 6.9 magnitude, but 150 miles away.  Jeremy, who grew up in southern California and has experienced quite a few earthquakes, including the 1994 Northridge earthquake that dumped a bookcase onto his bed while he was sleeping, thought it felt a bit more like a 5, but that was simply due to the distance.

After getting a bit more sleep, the kids decided they wanted McDonald’s for breakfast, and since we always try to go there once while in each country, we decided to humor them.  Much simpler than arguing about food, particularly since Japanese breakfasts tend to have soup, rice, fish, or other foods that our kids don’t particularly associate with breakfast.  Another problem with Japanese restaurants is that they tend to specialize.  One restaurant will have udon soup, another ramen, another sushi, another curry.  Given that the kids have opposite tastes, it makes it challenging to find something that they are both happy with.

We decided to start the morning by heading towards the National Museum.  On the way, we saw some shrines, some of them bigger than others.  You can tell if they are Shinto by the distinctive orange coloring.

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We then wandered around the nearby Ueno Park until opening time.  The fall colors were beautiful!

Once the National Museum opened, we bought tickets and went inside.  John loved the Ninja/Samurai section, as well as some paintings of various battle scenes.

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As we were traveling to the Tokyo Tower, we enjoyed some nice landscapes.  The Japanese are incredibly talented at making simple outdoor spaces into something amazing.

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I tend to find towers underwhelming, but since Jeremy and James love them, the Tokyo Tower was high on their list of places to visit.  James thought it looked a lot like the Eiffel Tower, but orange.

The views of the city really were quite nice.

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And the boys enjoyed wandering around and looking through the floor windows.

We thought about going to a temple across town, but when we discovered that it was a mile walk and was unlikely to have restaurants nearby, we skipped it and headed to Shinjuku for lunch.  The sushi in Japan is amazing, so even though we had it twice the day before, we decided to get it again.  Delicious!  Particularly the crab.  The miso soup had something mysterious in it, maybe tuna?  At the Tsukiji Fish Market that we were at the day before, there were tiny floating shrimp heads, so this mystery was a little easier for the kids to deal with.

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We wandered for a bit, stopping at obligatory vending machines for hot drinks, and seeing a few interesting sights.  Eventually, we ended up at Shibuya, which has an interesting “Hachiko” statue of a dog.

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Jeremy loves the the crossing there.  It is packed with people, all directions cross at once, and since he is almost a foot taller than everyone else there, he gets an amazing view of the chaos.  I am about an inch taller than the average Japanese male, so I even get a fairly decent view.

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Everyone was exhausted, so after a bit more wandering, we headed back to the apartment to watch some more sumo wrestling, journal, and relax.  For dinner, we decided to go to Harajuku, which is a bit more international than Shinjuku, for dinner.  My pork curry topped with seafood was quite good.  Japanese curry is fairly different from other curry, and is definitely worth trying.

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