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Published: June 23rd 2012
Once again we find ourselves wandering the streets of Tokyo and loving it more than the last time we were here, something we didn't think possible. Tokyo wasn't the plan at all but after numerous other trip itineraries failed, we opted to spend a month in Tokyo, and so far we're happy with that decision.
We've moved into an apartment on the sixth floor of a building in Nakano – a 20 minute walk away from Shinjuku. Ironically it's three blocks away from the last apartment we lived in here in Tokyo about two years ago. We're familiar with the area, and we have a great time wandering around. I find Japan so different from the US and Thailand that even a day of touring 7-11s or 100 yen shops is entertaining.
Our favorite thing to do here is walk. Tokyo is dense enough and flat enough that walking all day is amusing. Imagine walking around downtown Seattle and then one street over is Manhattan and then Boston and then Los Angeles. Except imagine everyone is polite and well-mannered. This is Tokyo and it's incredibly huge. So we walk everywhere. On average we spend eight hours a day on
foot roaming the city going from one major destination to the next. We do stop for lunch but that doesn't always mean sitting. The denseness of the city leads to a lack of extra space, which has created a trend of “standing bars” or restaurants – standing room is all that's available, no room for tables or chairs. Our favorite restaurant, however, does offer seating, and it's a chain so they're all over the city.
In true Japan form, I woke up on Monday morning to a slight earthquake. It was around 5:30am which at first led me to believe I was dizzy from being half asleep at such an early hour. But then I noticed the clothes in the closet swaying and the light above my head moving. By the time it really registered in my mind it was actually an earthquake, it was over. Back to sleep. Just another day in Tokyo.
Later on Monday morning at a more appropriate hour for being awake we went to one of our favorite spots in Tokyo – Kiyosumi Gardens. We ended up at this garden last time we were in Tokyo when I read a map wrong and
Our view of the Tokyo Skytree
It's something like $35 to get to the observation deck and sold out until mid July so this view will do for us!
walked us in the wrong direction for hours, but it turned out to be a perfect mistake now that's it's one of our favorite places in Tokyo. In 1878 by the founder of Mitsubishi chose the property as a garden for his employees to enjoy and to entertain important guests. The founder used Mitsubishi's steamships to import massive stones from all over Japan to the garden. These impressive stones are placed throughout the garden as well as in the ponds to use as stepping stones. It makes for a great few hours wandering the garden and looking at the fish and turtles in the pond. Currently the iris garden is blooming and is stunning to see. It's a wonderful garden and entrance such an amazing garden is less than $2.
After the garden we walked to Akihibara – electric town, where one can find absolutely anything electric plus a ton of stuff you never knew existed. It was there that I made the worst mistake I've made on this trip. It was warm out and we had been walking for hours so a popsicle sounded nice. I looked in the freezer at 7-11 and found one labeled “Jun Cheese,”
Jun being the brand. So this was a cheese flavored popsicle. I thought no way. This had to be something like cheesecake that got messed up in translation. Who would actually make a cheese flavored popsicle? That would be gross. But it was less than a dollar, so I had to try it. Yes. This was in fact a true cheese flavored popsicle. It was a fake white cheddar taste, like on the popcorn that makes you feel ill after eating the whole bag. This was a fake cheese flavor, then some sweetness and then a “this is awful” flavor, all in frozen form! Cheese is rare in Asia, and I'm a huge cheese fanatic so at first this strange frozen sweet cheesy thing was sort of good. Until about the tenth bite, and then I was desperate to find a garbage can to get it out of my hand. Of course there were none around. So a cheese popsicle is not a good idea, just for future reference. Bob had a mint ice cream bar dipped in chocolate. I was very envious his breath smelled like minty chocolate and mine was...cheese popsicle.
On Tuesday Tokyo was hit by
typhoon Guchol. While planning our day we checked the weather which indicated the typhoon could come in early afternoon so we stuck close to home, not wanting to get stranded anywhere but home. Of course the typhoon started around 7:30pm, so we sat at home all afternoon and evening slightly bored and slightly annoyed we were sitting at home. The typhoon brought heavy rain and wind but not many people seemed to alter their day – people still walked around on the street with umbrellas. Within a week of arriving in Tokyo we've experienced an earthquake and a typhoon. I'm hoping that's the extent of mother nature's entertainment for us.
About an hour walk from our apartment is Yoyogi Park, Harajuku and the Meiji Jingu Shrine. All are fun and free entertainment so we've been there three times now.
I'll save the rest of our adventures for another blog. Sometime next week we'll head to Mount Takao, the most visited mountain in the world! I'm sure the hiking trails will be empty.
Until next time, take care everyone!
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