Travel to Japan
Pretty much all of our worst fears were realized. Our flight from Philadelphia was delayed because of weight issues on the airplane. This meant that we missed our connecting flight to Tokyo and were put on a flight to Nagoya , 2 hours south of Tokyo . We arrive in Nagoya 13 hours later without much rest on the plane. Our luggage did not make it there at all. After filling out lost baggage claim forms and having multiple conversations in broken English we had to begin navigating the train system to get to Tokyo . At this point it is 9pm Japan time. We got from Nagoya airport to Nagoya Station in about a half hour. From there we had to get a shinkansen (high speed train) to Tokyo . When buying the tickets we found out that not one but all three of our credit cards were not working. We had to spend almost all of the yen we converted from US dollars to pay for the train. At this point I wish I had bought travelers checks or something since I had planned to use credit cards to pay for almost the entire trip. The train ride took about 2 hours and was pretty uneventful. Mostly I was just trying to stay awake. All this inconvenience and all we get is a 10,000 yen (about $100) clothing allowance and a $25 gift card for use on another NWA flight. We left our house at 8:30 AM in Philadelphia and have been traveling without much sleep for almost 30 hours and we still haven't gotten to the hotel in Tokyo . It is about 11 pm Friday night when we arrive in Tokyo station and get a quick taxi to the hotel. After check in we explored just a bit and got some food and toiletries from a local mini-mart (credit card denied again). I had Chai ice cream and cynde had “rich milk” ice cream. Overall the room was nice the beds a little uncomfortable but they make up for it with the toilet that sprays your bum with warm water hehe.
Day 1 in Tokyo
With all of the craziness of no luggage no credit cards and little cash I didn't sleep a wink this whole night. I got out of bed at about 5:30 AM and just started getting ready. Luckily they provided most of the toiletries including razors. I had one of the most painful shaves of my life. After getting ready I set out and found a nearby Citibank and got some cash and picked up some groceries and headed back to the Hotel. I feel a little better at this point knowing that at least I have access to cash funds. So I started to appreciate the city. It was only about 6:30 AM so the city was just waking up. Most businesses were cleaning the sidewalks and windows. This is easily the cleanest city I have ever seen. Its crazy cause its also one of the most populated. There is no liter, the trains were immaculate, not a rundown building in sight, I don't even think I even saw any dirty cars or buses drive by. And only a couple homeless and they weren't even asking for money.
For breakfast we found a little European style café just opening, I was surprised on a Saturday morning stuff doesn't open until 9, even most restaurants and coffee shops and stores don't open til 10 or 11 AM. After a quick bite we walked to Tsukiji fish market. Kinda scary with hundreds of little carts whizzing around with palettes of all kinds of fish and very slippery floors (from fish guts) oh and guys with huge power tools cutting up fish that are 5 or 6 feet long. Really neat to observe though. We skipped the sushi breakfast that all the guides recommend. And actually we didn't stay very long cause we were both pretty grossed out. Cynde made the observation “It's like an aquarium except everything is dead !!”. I read that they have 3000 different fish on offer on any given day and the freshest, highest quality, cheapest sushi in the world. From there we went to Hama detached palace garden where we walked around and stopped in a little tea house where we had as close as we could figure a traditional tea ceremony. It was green tea made from a powder and a little sweet that Cynde didn't much care for. From the garden we boarded a little cruise down the Sumida river under 12 bridges and with a view of the rainbow bridge to Asakusa where we walked around a huge market, bought some gifts, and visited the Senso-Ji Temple . After visiting the temple we walked around more stores, much of the time spent in a store selling all the Ghibli toys. After a bit more walking we stopped for lunch, noodles and stir-fry and little tiny beers. Here we used the credit card without a problem which was a big relief. Wondering further we stopped for coffee and then got the subway back by our hotel. After some relaxation we went to this hello kitty mall, seriously about 7 different hello kitty stores. Then to dinner at Baden Baden a german restaurant where we had Hoffbrauhaus beer and schnitzel that was made with tempura batter and had italian spices. They were able to import the beer from Germany but I guess they had no luck getting the secret food recipes. Back to the hotel and sleep, the first sleep I had in almost 3 days !!!!!!!!!!!!
Day 2 in Tokyo
Another early start. Today we tried the hotel Sunday brunch which was fairly good. After brunch we had a pleasant surprise, OUR BAGS. Clean socks ! So far I have been surprised that there are not more tourists, or more non-asian tourists. The food was good but everything has the same odd taste I think that the salt they use is different. After brunch we headed to Harajuku on the subway where we visited Meiji shrine the best Shinto shrine, its in yoyogi park. After the shrine we wondered back by the station where all the goth types hang out and pose for pictures, it was a little strange but fun. We then wondered for hours and hours thru markets with all kinds of stores including Kiddyland where we spent over an hour, the oriental bazaar, and shops selling the same clothes the Goths and punks wear. On average clothes, and toys seem to be pretty expensive. We got these crepe cone things and then a little more culture. We walked to Togo shrine where we saw a wedding in progress and on the paths leading there we found a once a month flea market with a variety of interesting antiques. We had dinner at a little Italian place, simple, Kirin beer and pizza and then headed back to the hotel. We unexpectedly fell asleep at about 7pm and never got to go out that night.
Day 3 Tokyo
Here I am again up at 6 am writing this journal. Today is a rainy day so we want to do stuff inside but its Monday and all the museums are closed. We started the day with breakfast at shimbashi train station. Train stations all have tons of restaurants and shops and things. We had what I guess is what they think is a typical American breakfast a piece of thick toast, hard boiled egg, and some sliced ham over lettuce with dressing, and coffee. Oh then of course we stopped again for coffee. One thing that I have been observing is how solitary the Japanese are. Cafes might as well have only tables for one. While sitting quietly alone many of the people seem to be writing in daily planners. From there we walked up through Hibaya park and thru to the imperial palace which was beautiful but you cant get too close. What I didn't realize was that the east garden was closed on Monday so we might have to stop back there another day. At this point we decided to get back inside so we went inside Tokyo station where we had lunch which was really good. We got a lunch set which included a bowl of soup and sort of a stew with rice. After lunch we walked through to the Tokyo international forum with its soaring modern design. A quick stop at the English tourist info center and then back out in the rain for a walk through some department stores and the Sony building with demos of all the newest Sony technology. After another spin through a Ginza department store……….. more coffee!!!!!! This one put me a little over the top and I was feeling a bit jittery. From here we went to another huge toy store and bought some more goodies. Then back to the hotel to relax a bit and do some planning for the rest of the week. After reading some brochures we took the Hibiya line to Roppongi which is the densely packed area with bars and night clubs and karaoke bars. This area is thought to be very tourist friendly and it is where you find one of the hard rock cafes and tony roma's and other western style restaurants. We had dinner in a international restaurant which was delicious and then on to a bar that I had read about called Castillo. It is probably considered a dive bar here but they play all 80s new wave with a bit of a mix of other 70s and 80s music. We loved the music and it was a pretty cool crowd and staff for that matter. With every beer you get a coin to put in this slot machine to try and win, well…. More drinks!!! We had no luck with the slots but had a thoroughly enjoyable evening and for the first time we fought the fatigue and stayed out until almost midnight !!!
Day 4 tokyo
Wow !! we slept in for the first time until after 9 am . It was hard work but we finally overslept. Today we will go to Disneyland ……….USA !!!!!
Whoops! Big change of plans. Turns out that Disneyland was sold out ??? so we will go on Thursday instead. We already have tickets so we don't have to worry about it selling out again, we also booked a trip to the Ghibli museum, and for tomorrow a trip to Fujisan and Hakone. So after we found out that Disney sold out we set off on the Yamanote line for Ueno Park . We wondered around the park for a few hours looking at the cherry blossoms, visiting a couple of shrines and other monuments, and strolled thru outdoor markets. While in the park we visited the Ueno Zoo home of Ling Ling the giant panda. Besides all of the interesting animals we observed the equally interesting Japanese children. After the zoo we headed to the Tokyo National Museum . We spent a couple of hours viewing all sorts of Japanese art and artifacts like Buddhist statues, armor, swords, ceramics, kimono, and some of my favorite wood block prints by Hiroshige and Hakusai. After the museum we walked back thru the prime cherry blossom viewing area which was nice even though they are blossoming a little late this year. We wondered out of the park and around the streets of Ueno which was a lot more happening than I would have thought. We found a British pub that had happy hour so we stopped for drinks and got dinner. I had a mixed drink with absinthe and then just a classic absinthe and cynde had Japanese plum sour. After dinner we shopped at another market and stopped in an arcade where I won Cynde a Cinamoroll doll out of one of those grabber machines. Otherwise we just observed men in business suits playing odd video games smoking cigarettes. We tried to go to a karaoke bar but in turns out most of the places that say karaoke are studios where they record your performance not bars where you perform live. So we headed back to the hotel to stop up and freshen up and on the way back saw this life size stuffed animal scare the balls off some women that was checking if he was real. Next we headed out to a pretty famous patisserie called “Almond” where we got some yummy dessert and then went over to Sapporo 's Ginza Lion brew pub restaurant and sampled the premium yebisu beers. Now we go to sleep for an early start tomorrow.
Some observations: Unlike other cities where neighborhoods have a central area and then fizzle out for a bit before you get to another area Tokyo never does that. You could walk in every direction including back alleys and side streets and there is always something there. And not just a few things like every building has something a restaurant, pachinko parlor, arcade, bar, retail. And the city doesn't just operate businesses on the ground floor there is restaurants and shops on every floor. So a lot of times you go into a lobby where you say which restaurant you want to go to and they send you up on an elevator. And also there isn't just one of anything. Sometimes we pass something and I think I can use it as a landmark but no because there will be another one on the other side of the street as soon as you turn the corner.
Day 5 tokyo
Today we had to get an early start so we just grabbed “to go” breakfast from a coffee shop and waited to be picked up for our tour of Mt Fuji and Hakone. We took a bus to a couple different spots to view Fujisan, we stopped for a lunch at a hotel restaurant where we ate with an unobstructed view of Fujisan, then we went on a little boat ride on Lake Ashi, one of the hakone 5 lakes, and finally a cable car up the side of a mountain in the Japan Alps. The views were beautiful and the tour guide, Suzukisan Yucca gave interesting information about Japan . Some of the statistics that I found interesting: Pop density of Tokyo about 5000, vs pop density of Canada 3. Also the average rent in Tokyo for 1 room is $1500-2000 which she said is a workers average starting salary. We also found out that schools just finished so all the kids have off for 2 weeks (the same 2 weeks that we will be here) including college. I guess that explains why Disney was sold out. The bus dropped us at a train station where we got the shinkansen back to Tokyo . Instead of heading back to the hotel we went straight out on the town. We took the yamanote line to Shinjuku which is another busy nightlife area and the part of the city with the most insane neon light and huge TV screens, bars, restaurants, karaoke studios, arcades, and stores. The train station has 2 million people pass through it everyday, the crosswalks are like 4 car lengths wide, and it is crowded every second of the day. We had the best dinner of the trip at this Indian restaurant called Taz Majal, it was pretty small but the service was great and the food was incredible, I couldn't believe they were open til 5AM . I still cant get used to the fact that not only do they not tip here for service of any kind but it would actually be offensive to them if you did tip. I guess if you really like a place the only way you can show it is to go back often. When I told the waiter and later the host how much we liked it they both seemed so proud and so happy it was really nice. Cynde kinda likes the no tipping, and I have to admit it is probably saving us a butt-load since we eat out about 3 times a day plus coffee plus bars. Most of the bars and restaurants are open until 5 or 6AM even during the week. We walked around Kabuki-cho which was described as the sleazy nightlife area but I didn't think it was so bad and actually we didn't even go into any bars, instead we went to a bunch of arcades. I tried my luck again at the “UFO catchers” to try and win Cynde some Totoro stuff but even when I thought I won the numbers on the certificate I got didn't match the numbers listed on the machine so I got nothing, oh I also tried to win some Panda-z stuffy with no like. It was really fun just watching all the Tokyoites still dressed in suits playing all the video games and pachinko machines. Its crazy how the city just buzzes, it almost energizes you, its really unlike any city I have ever been too. Just standing watching a busy Pedestrian intersection could probably entertain me for hours. We were tired by 11PM so we headed back to the hotel.
Tokyo Day 6
Today is our last day in Tokyo for now. Next we head to Kobe for a couple of days. Today we are going to Disneyland for real this time. When we get back to the city tonight we plan to go to a Karaoke bar.
Well we got a little later start today. We decided since the kiddies were on spring break we would go to Disney later so that maybe it would be less crowded. So we started the day at the Imperial palace east garden which was nice. My favorite part was the amazing koi in the pond there, I took a bunch of pictures, especially of the yellow ones. We saw a few more cherry blossoms although it seems like it would be insanely beautiful when they are in full bloom. From there we headed to Disneyland . Disneyland was a blast, way way crowded but we managed to get on about a dozen rides and had some lunch / dinner in the park. We saw so many cute little Japanese kids and in generally they seem pretty well behaved. We caught some long stares from some kids, I guess since we are white. On one ride I noticed that they offered English translation so I asked a worker about it and it set off a string of one employee running to another employee and so on and eventually a girl came back with a sheet that explained where to sit so that we had headphones with English commentary. The level of service everywhere has been amazing you get zero attitude and 100% efficiency everywhere, even despite our inability to speak the language, this was even more pronounced at Disney. From the guy that takes your ticket to the person who shows you to the exit when you leave the ride they all seem genuinely happy that you were a guest at their park.
After a crowded train back downtown we headed straight for a german pub called Lorelei where we had a great beer that I hadn't tried before called Konstriber, a german schwarzbier. Tomorrow is check out day and on to Kobe .
Day 7 Tokyo to Kobe
Back on the speed train this time for almost 3 hours from Tokyo station to Kobe . We arrived in Kobe in the afternoon. The service at this hotel (Hotel Okura Kobe) was a little more formal and the hotel it self was a bit fancier. It was well situated right on the water in Meriken Park . Our room had a view of the kobe tower, the maritime museum, and the waterfront. We were a little hungry so we went to Chinatown where we walked around some shops and stopped for a bite to eat at one of the many Chinese restaurants. After Chinatown we headed back towards our hotel where we stopped to see one of the memorials from the 1995 earthquake. After relaxing in the room for a bit we headed out to Oshina for some dinner. We had a set dinner which included some yummy pancake thing, tofu, eggplant, rice, fried onions, and mmmmmmmm Kobe beef. Eww it was so delicious. We washed it all down with sake (hot and cold) and some beer from Okinawa . I wasn't a big fan of the sake but it also wasn't bad. After almost a week without incident we ran into a problem when paying. They didn't except credit cards and I didn't have cash. After running around to several ATM's which didn't accept US cards we made arrangements to go back to the hotel and change US dollars to yen and returned and paid. On the way back a woman asked us in English if we needed help (I guess it was obvious) and guided us to an ATM, and even though it didn't take our card I thought it was a really nice gesture. The whole thing was pretty stressful and rather embarrassing but it all worked out. It's a shame that it went that way because the place was great and quite a deal for the price. After sorting all that out we wondered around the nightlife area, tried our luck at some UFO catchers and then ended up at the Atomic Bar where we had some beers before heading in for the night.
Day 8 Kobe
We slept in a bit today and got a late start. We found a little coffee shop where we got pancakes !! and coffee. It was sorta exciting to have a typical breakfast instead of some lame croissant or worse some sorta hard boiled egg salad. After breakfast we got the train to Himeji where we visited the Himeji-jo castle. The castle was amazing, we had been to a bunch of temples and shrines but this place was huge comparatively and we could actually explore inside which was cool. I took many many pictures and we had a good time. For parts of the castle we had to take off our shoes and switch into slippers, none of which fit me very well. Then we had to climb narrow polished wood steps while ducking under low threshold beams and with little kids in front and in back of you. All in all pretty treacherous. I was surprised because when you get to the top there wasn't a great view or anything but there was some artifacts to look at. After leaving the castle we headed back to the train station where we got some vegetable tempura and udon noodles. There was a guy there that helped us and he spoke very good English. After arriving back in kobe we headed out for the night. For dinner we went to what the guides said was the best Indian restaurant in kobe , Gaylord. The food was delicious and we tried “Cobra” a premium Indian lager. After dinner we went for some gelato and then to a Belgian bar for a nightcap. Cynde had a Belgian lambic and I had a trippel, both were good. At this point we headed back to the hotel.
Day 9 Kobe to Kyoto
This morning we got up and explored the old foreign settlement, it was sorta a bust because we really didn't come across much. So we stopped for breakfast stopped by a couple earthquake memorials and then checked out and got a cab to the train station. The train to Kyoto only took about 45 minutes. After arriving we relaxed in the room for a bit and then headed out and explored an area called Gion and the Heian jingo shrine. After exploring the huge shrine we found a really great restaurant called beer market ichiba coji. Dinner was delicious gyoza, edamame, beef, pork, and a variety of great beers. Between the restaurant and the hotel was a market with stores and arcades. We bought some gifts and I won Cynde a couple of cat buses from Tottoro!! We picked up some snacks and watched a movie in the Hotel room before bed.
Day 10 Kyoto
Today we got an early start and headed to Tully's for breakfast then a long walk to kikusui where we went to some private gardens, then nanzenji temple, then some lunch at a private luncheonette where we had some yummy beef curry. We were the only ones inside and there was only 1 item on the menu, and just the one women who owned the place was there. She was our hostess, waitress, bus boy, and so on. I told her in Japanese that the meal was delicious and she seemed so happy and went into a series of bows. Then we went on to the philosophers walk, this led right to the silver pavilion where we tried some ice cream. I got sweet potato and Japanese tea. The grounds of this garden were really neat. There was areas where they had the perfectly raked sand and even sculpted mounds of sand. Other areas were covered with thick green moss which is what the gardens in Kyoto are distinguished by. From here we went to okazaki shrine and then to the Kyoto handcraft center. We stopped at some kinda donkey restaurant for dinner. More curry and an organic microbrew. The menu consisted mostly of these hamburger steaks that you choose from 150 or 300gm and then either with rice or with fries and different typed of curry. Then back to the hotel. Wow I think it's the first full day without a train !! It was nice not having to navigate the trains but our feet paid the price.
Back at the hotel we got hooked on this game show that involved these guys going through an obstacle course. It was called “Viking” and besides a bunch of Japanese guys there was a couple Olympic athletes and a guy that plays in the NFL. The part that killed me was that as time was ticking down they had you stop to answer a math question adding 2, 2 digit numbers and these bitches would get stuck for 10 seconds at a time. Still it was thoroughly entertaining, and way better than BBC pope coverage.
Wow. We decided to go back out for a bit and we found this cool bar on the 4 th floor of a neighboring building. It was called Anaheim . It was really small, space for about a dozen but there was just us, 2 patrons, and 2 bartenders. The décor was mod and they had some neat design magazines. There seemed to be a local artists works on the walls and otherwise just a bunch of little trinkets and characters. They only had 1 beer on tap and a couple of bottled options, which has been the case at more than half of the places we have been. Cynde was very determined to solve this wooden puzzle which she was never able to do but it kept her attention for practically the whole time we were there. I was kinda surprised that even with so few people there and it being so small, nobody tries to talk to us, ask us where we are from, nothing.
Day 11 Kyoto
Today we got up and out. We decided to get a day pass for the bus which was well worth the 500 yen. We didn't use any buses at all yet because the map made it look really intimidating. After so many days of walking, the fact that so many of the attractions are so far apart, and that the subway doesn't get you too close to almost anywhere that we want to be, the bus pass made sense. It worked out really well and it was very easy once I studied the map for a while.
First we went to Kinkakuji Temple (The Golden Pavilion). It was really striking to look at. I can see why it is such a big attraction, and often the symbol of Kyoto . Next we went to Ryanji Temple with its relaxing zen rock gardens. This was one of the places where you can actually go inside the temple. Most places we have been so far you just walk around the gardens and observe the buildings but you can't really enter the buildings. We had to take off our shoes and this time they didn't provide slippers so our sore feet got some more abuse. Outside in the gardens the cherry blossoms are really starting to open up more. It looks really nice. I can see why they are the subject of so much of the artwork in Japan and why they celebrate so much this time of year. Next we went to Toji Temple which has one of the tallest pagodas in all of Japan . When we entered we inadvertently didn't pay because about half of these sorts of places are free so it wouldn't have been that weird. We realized on the way out that there was an admission to get in but we decided to kinda slip out when the ticket office got kinda busy. After paying $5 bux each per attraction all day long we didn't feel too bad dodging this one. We weren't really there long anyway. By this time it was already about 5:00 when most of the temples/shrines/gardens close so we headed back over by the hotel. We ended up going for a stroll down Pontocho dori which is a neat little narrow street lined with bars and restaurants. For the most part they don't really let foreigners inside these establishments and when we stopped for directions on the way there the person seemed hesitant to tell us where it was. It was neat just wandering about but I kinda wish we could have found this restaurant that I had read about that welcomes foreigners. It all worked out though, we found a restaurant around the corner with yakitori and noodles. One weird thing was the noodles were garnished with these fish shavings that kinda moved around because the food was so hot. It was no biggie we just immediately scraped that off. From here we wandered over to Yasaka shrine and there was a festival of some sort going on we think maybe because of the cherry blossoms. It was really interesting to observe the people partying on their little picnic tarps. Every so often there would be this chant that people would do in seemed to encourage somebody to chug a beer. On our way back to the hotel we stopped at baskin robbins for ice cream.
Back at the hotel we ended up watching this game show where you have to make randomly selected audience members laugh by telling jokes and parading around the stage. Most of it did not translate but once in a while we too would laugh.
Day 12 Kyoto
Today we decided we were burnt out on gardens/temples/shrines but we did go see one last castle that I had read about. We started the day at Nijo Castle . There was a nice garden and we were able to explore the whole grounds including the inside of the castle. After this we made our way to this movie studio theme park. It was pretty neat. You get to watch them film samurai warriors doing battle and explore the sets all done up to look like different time periods in Japan . There is also characters in full costume walking around so that you can take there pictures. Inside there was a cinema museum with photos and exhibits with costumes and props from movies. After a couple of hours here we decided we just wanted to relax a bit and have some fun on our last night in Kyoto . We went to dinner at a place that I had read about in a guidebook that was a 300 year old homemade noodle restaurant. Unfortunately neither of us liked our food at all, Cynde said it tasted like pledge. Also the portions were quite small. Next we went to a bar that is supposedly the number 1 gaijin (foreigner) hangout. Unfortunately it was mysteriously closed on this night with no sign to explain why. We found a place nearby called sanctuary and had a couple of drinks. The bartenders were friendly although they spoke almost no English. Cynde got a bottled beer which the bartender poured into a really small glass and every couple minutes he would come over and fill the glass back up. It was nice of him but almost too much in a way. We moved on to a British pub which again had a friendly bartender. This was one of the first people who asked us where we were from. His English wasn't very good but it was nice to interact with someone for a change. After a couple of $9 12 ounce bottled beers we headed out for a late bite since we were still hungry after our unpleasant dinner. We found “hub” the chain of British Pubs that we had been to in Tokyo . At this point we were looking for a safe bet. We split chicken fingers and chips and a couple of beers. I guess with “bar isn't it” being closed this place was where all the foreigners came, so we fit right in.
Day 13 Kyoto to Tokyo
Checked out at 11 o'clock and went to Kyoto station to get our shinkansen to Tokyo . At the station we broke down and got Mcdonalds. The food tasted kinda weird and we both got stomach aches afterwards. I am excited to get back to Tokyo .
We checked into Park Hotel at about 3 in the afternoon. Wow! this hotel is great! On the train ride we came up with an imaginary list of all the stuff that we wanted at the next hotel and this place has almost everything we asked for. First off the design of the whole hotel is really nice with dark wood floors and glass and steel accents. Our room was well furnished and even had a flat panel TV. The bed was a lot more comfortable than the others, it had a great view of the city, free high speed internet, subway station in the basement level.
After relaxing at the hotel for a bit we took the subway to Roppongi. We had dinner at what is said to be one of the best Mexican restaurants in Japan . Next we tried to go to a Belgian bar but there was a private party going on so we went to “EX” a German expatriate bar. This place was great! The owners are a little Japanese guy and a big German guy. There is only room for about 12 patrons but still they have a variety of authentic German meals on offer and of course great beer. We ended up talking to the Japanese guy for a while which was cool. He pointed out to us that we were being filmed for use on the “live” section of their website. Also he took a picture of us and printed it out as a souvenir for us. When we arrived all the other patrons were german and were speaking in german. Later they switched to include us and some other people that showed up, including some businessmen who make a living selling women's underwear.
Next we headed to Mcdonalds for a 100yen shake for the anniversary of the milkshake. This gave us a little time to recuperate before heading to Castillo.
This is the same Castillo we went to on our first week in Tokyo but it went a little different this time. When we got there it was happy hour so we loaded up. A british staff member we were talking to even tipped us off that we could order ahead before happy hour was over and they would keep our beers in the fridge til we needed them. This guy was pretty cool and it was nice to get his point of view on some things including Tokyo and world politics. At one point he said matter of factly, “well everyone knows that America is the most hated country in the world.” WOW! He didn't mean any personal offense and honestly none was really taken.
As the night went on we met several other people due to the table we staked out right next to the slot machine. We met a guy from Sudan and a woman from Singapore and spoke for a while with a guy from Hamburg . We cheered everybody on and actually somebody won the bottle of Moet and Chandon after several hundred failed attempts.
At one point I realized if we didn't get going we would miss the last train but we said screw it and made a big night of it. The place got pretty packed and the DJ was playing great music including at least 10 songs we requested. There was a tiny dance floor, room for about 6, and even that got crowded. At one point there was some business men standing on a radiator with their ties around their heads dancing.
At one point heavily loaded we left and got a cab back to the hotel. Easy enough right? Well it turned out that there was overnight construction so he had to leave us off a block or so away. Well we got kinda lost and at one point we actually went to into the wrong hotel. Even once we did find our hotel we got our floor and neither of us knew our room number! So I guess that tells you what kinda night it was.
Day 14 Tokyo
After the big night we had we got a bit of a late start but we had to hurry so we could get to the Ghibli museum which was a 20 minute train ride out of the center of the city. When we got out of the train station we found this little bus that has Ghibli stuff all over it and was full of little kids. Its just a 5 minute bus ride to the museum but the whole time was thinking that we were going to be the only adults there. It turned out there was a fair amount of people of all ages there.
The museum was so cool! There was a variety of displays but my favorite were the intricate animation displays that sort of gave you an idea of how the animation process works. A lot of the space was set up like the artists studio with a variety of works in progress and a bunch of inspirational material like books and models. One room was just a huge cat bus from totoro that kids can play on. On the roof was a huge statue from castles in the sky. Overall the place was done incredibly well.
We had lunch at the museum before heading back to the center of the city. After some planning back at the hotel room we went to Shinjuku. This is a really bustling neighborhood that has the busiest train station in the world and the busiest pedestrian crossing in the world. It was crazy just to watch the people for a while.
We wondered around, checked out some stores and arcades, and eventually had dinner at an Italian restaurant. We made it an early night so that we could get up on time for our check out and departure for the USA .
Day 15 Tokyo to Philadelphia
Wow, what an adventure! We wanted to take a bus from the hotel to the airport but the schedule didn't work out. So we navigated the trains one last time. We got to the airport without incident and departed for the Detroit . Our connecting flight was canceled but it worked out fine and we actually got an earlier flight to Philly. It was weird being in transit for about 16 hours but arriving only a few hours after we left on the same day. We did our best to stay up until our usual bed time to get back on track.
End of log