Let's face it, I tend to have horrible luck flying in or through Tokyo-Narita. Since it was my final destination, I was less concerned than I am when I have to make connecting flights. After making it through security and all that jazz in Taipei, I headed to my gate. I was pleased to see that we were supposed to be boarding and leaving about half an hour early. Because of previous delays, etc. with the Narita airport in the past, I had waited to send her a message about the change of time until boarding had already begun. But sure enough, everyone was on the plane, luggage stored, seats in the upright position, tables stowed, and we were just sitting there. Soon the captain's voice came over the intercom apologizing for the delay and explaining that we needed a new fly pattern to reach Tokyo and that we were waiting for it to be approved and returned. So we sat. And we sat. And we sat. Eventually we took off. By now, I was supposed to be reaching Tokyo half an hour later than my original flight, or an hour and a half later than I had messaged my friend. But, what's a girl to do? So, after landing in Tokyo I booked it to immigration and customs. Thankfully, I hadn't had to check a bag, so I could move pretty fast and evade most of the long lines.
On the other side of the arrivals wall, my friend Rebecca was waiting for me. We stopped to pick up some Starbucks, because I'd left my apartment that morning around 2am to catch the bus, she handed me a Suica (Japan's equivalent to London's Tube's Oyster Card), and we boarded the train. We stopped by her place first so that I could drop of my luggage and we could make a plan for what was remaining of the day ahead of us. One of her co-workers had told her about some fireworks that the city would be shooting off, so we decided to check those out. There was a free shuttle from outside the train station to the area where they'd be shooting them off. People had perched on both sides of the hill near where they'd be. There was also a little traditional market happening at the bottom of the slope on the near side (there was a lake on the other side). The market served a variety of fried foods and foods on a stick. We watched for about half an hour and then decided that we'd head out and find some dinner. We ended up settling on sushi as we perused the food court at a local mall. Afterwards, we headed back to my friend's place and started what would become our nightly routine of putting on our pajamas and watching Never Mind the Buzzcocks.
|People meandering along the market portion finding snacks while waiting for the fireworks to start.|
Day two then was our museum day. In spite of a later first night seeing as we had a lot to catch up on, we managed to roll ourselves out of bed and be out the door between 10-10:30am. First stop was the Museum of Western Art located in Ueno Park. Their standing collection includes works of art by Van Gogh, Monet, Renoir, and Picasso (amongst a variety of other artists), and so for less then $5 U.S. we spent several hours admiring beautiful paintings. We ate omelet rice for lunch at the museum's cafe before meandering through the rest of Ueno Park. We stopped several times to watch street performers and their acts, before heading to the next art museum which was having a special exhibit from the Louvre. This exhibit was much more crowded than our mornings adventures had been, but we still managed to make our way through and see everything. We even were able to stop and just enjoy looking at a few of the different paintings. By the time we finished that, we were starting to lose steam, so we decided to head to the Shibuya Crossing where we could people watch from Starbucks. It took us awhile to actually get seats, but it was an enjoyable experience none the less. Shibuya Crossing was what I had pictured all of Tokyo would be like. Millions of people hurrying about. The interesting thing though is that there wasn't a lot of shuffling or pushing, just a lot of people getting where they needed to go. For dinner that night we went to an Alice in Wonderland themed cafe. It was a pretty neat experience!
|The Museum of Western Art in Ueno Park.|
|Down the rabbit hole and into Wonderland.|
My third day in Tokyo we went to see the Meiji Shrine and visited 100% Chocolate Cafe. Google Maps led us a little astray, but we got there. The shrine was in a park and since it was nice out we walked around and enjoyed the greenery. Then we boarded another train and headed for the cafe. 100% Chocolate Cafe serves a variety of cakes, frostings, chocolates themselves, and drinks all rooted in chocolate. Besides each getting a beverage, we both picked four (from the 56 available kinds) of chocolates to enjoy. I chose a cinnamon chocolate, a red chili pepper chocolate, a Venezuelan chocolate, and one called 95 Chocolate (nice and bitter!). Still being pretty full from our lunch of Japanese curry, I only two of the chocolates while sipping my Chocolate 'Spresso. The cinnamon chocolate was surprisingly grainy but very fragrant, and the Venezuelan chocolate with it's smooth, full, dark body and rich flavor was probably my favorite out of the four that I had. That evening we picked up sushi on the way home, along with stopping at a gluten-free baked goods stand.
|The entrance to the Meiji Shrine|
|More Meiji Shrine|
My last day in Japan was pretty relaxed. We watched the season premier of Doctor Who. :) And took our time getting out the door to get me to the airport.
It was a great getaway for a few days! And now... it's just a few more days until school starts back up. How time flies!
“Alice: How long is forever?
White Rabbit: Sometimes, just one second.”
― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland
― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland