This is post #3 of our Tokyo-Seoul trip, for the second half of Monday, November 6, 2017.
Suitably refreshed from our afternoon break, we head out again on this, our first day in Tokyo. When we left early this morning, many of the shops had their roll-down metal doors closed, so we didn’t know what was behind them. But what a lovely surprise to see a Hobbyra-Hobbyre shop a block from our hotel. They are a embroidery/craft/fabric shop with wonderful displays in their windows:
I’ve made a mental note to come back here when Dave is in his conference.
Another treat we see are a waffle shop selling gaufres, which we loved when we were in Belgium many years ago. These are a step up, with nuts. We point, pay, and enjoy them outside on the street, a change from our last trip to Japan, where we felt like outcasts if we so much as chewed gum on the streets. Maybe we still should feel that way, but we don’t and we enjoy the treat. We also purchased one of those chestnut treats; more on that later.
I have a hankering to get as high as I can to see the scramble intersection so we head for the bulding that has the City Bakery in the below-ground floor. We thought when we would enter we would see a large atrium with views, but inside it’s like a vertical mall: many small shops and the ceilings are normal heighth.
We try to take the elevator up. This was our first experience outside our hotel with Japanese elevators. They are slo-o-o-ow, and after a few days there I gather the thinking is that they are reserved for parents with strollers, or old people. Apparently we aren’t old enough. Most people just head for the series of escalators, but we stand there, dumbly, waiting. Eventually it comes and we go up to floor 11. We head to the part of the building we think will overlook the street, and can only get this side view. We take the escalators down eleven floors, all the way to the lowest level.
We find our way to our train, and notice these doors that protect the tracks from crowded platforms. They open only when the train arrives and is in place, and close immediately afterwards.
I was aiming to take a photo of the sign above, but that guy…he’s interesting. Our final destination is the Tokyo Metropolitan Building where there is an observation deck on the 45th floor, North Tower (guidebook info). We were trying to get there before sunset.
We arrived shortly after sunset but were able to figure out that the bump on the horizon is Mt. Fuji (their placards helped).
In the center of this area is a brightly lit shopping area filled with Tokyo Souvenirs, and it makes it hard to photograph what we see outside, or even look through the windows, as seen in the photo above, taken by another tourist. I resorted to placing my camera lens right up against the window, or bunching my jacket around the camera to block the glare and light.
We thought the projection of the Godzilla image pretty funny (click to enlarge). After seeing the views through all the windows, we head back to the high-speed elevators along with a crowd, and head back down to the lobby. Other than our hotel, this is only elevator which seems to work this way (high-speed), but it’s built for the tourists.
We see many banners for the Tokyo Olympics–a thousand days away, all the signs say. As a quilter, I love the designs.
We are interested in this giant whatever, and read about it:
We now start the Hunt for Dinner. I am jet-lagged, tired, a bit cranky, have sore feet and just want to eat, but Dave has seen something on Yelp and is trying to get there. This is where we learn that having a hot spot in our backpack and using Google maps doesn’t really deliver.
We wander into a convenience store as there is an ATM in the back; I look for chocolate. But we notice this vending machine full of cups of ice for purchase. I guess you buy the ice and then that includes a stop at a dispenser for your drink?
We wander up one strange street and down another, circling around this elusive restaurant which gets “great reviews” on Yelp. Truthfully, this is where I want to throw in the towel, pick up whatever back at the convenience store and head home. Finally I ask someone in a shop who has limited English, and she nicely puts up her “closed” or “be right back” sign on her counter, and walks us the block over to where that restaurant is. She shows us that the sign in English had been turned around backward, and we nod, realizing that we’d walked right past this. We thank her and she scurries back to her post. As we stand there like dumb tourists, three people move past us into the place, and just like that the decision is over: they take the last seats at the counter.
We eat at the first respectable-looking place we find: a restaurant that has a curry-themed menu, order udon, and get this: broth, rice and noodles. It was okay. It got us fed, but all plans for the evening went out the window as I have a meltdown: I just want to go home to our hotel. I don’t want to see any neon lights. I don’t want to wander neighborhoods. Typical first night on a trip. We pay the bill and walk towards the Metro.
We are near Shinjuku, and that has some razzle-dazzle. Good enough.
We arrive at the Ginza station, and walk home, going one block further to see the Kabuki Theater, all lit up.
I looked it up on Wikipedia to read:
The original Kabuki-za was a wooden structure, built in 1889. The building was destroyed in 1921 by an electrical fire. Reconstruction had not been completed when it again burned down during the 1923 Great Kantō earthquake. Rebuilding was finally completed in 1924. The theater was destroyed once again by Allied bombing during World War II. It was restored in 1950, however, the 1950 structure was demolished in the spring of 2010, and rebuilt over the ensuing three years (edited).
Back in the room, it was time to try the chestnut treat. Of course, I love the bag. The inside was (yes) a chestnut, surrounded by sweetened black bean paste all in a rice-type shell. I give Dave all of my portion, brush my teeth in our beautiful little bathroom, and climb into bed to write up this lovely day (well, except for the March for Dinner) in my journal, and record the expenses (notice the face drawn in by the chestnut treat):