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Day 2 - Ueno Park, Harajuku, and Akihabara

Tokyo Travel Blog

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First thing we did was go straight to the 99Yen store for breakfast!  You can't beat 3 kolaches for 99Yen!  Then we went to Ueno Park.  It was already packed with locals and tourists since it was a national holiday.  The park is the home of several museums and a zoo.   We walked around the park and saw some locals doing tai chi.  Gabs wanted to go to the zoo, but it wasn't open yet, so we headed north outside the park to some temple (where we saw more locals doing their morning karate exercise) and Jyoyein Temple (sp?).  We also visited Yanaka Cemetary where the Tokugawa shogun family was buried.

We headed back to the park and bought tickets to the zoo.

Gabby and I at the zoo
  It was packed with families because it was holiday, I believe Children's day.  The ticket price i think was 600 yen.  Ueno zoo is the first and oldest zoo in Japan.  I can't really think of anything that makes this zoo any different from Houston zoo, probably the penguins (but then again it's been years since I've visited the zoo).  The penguins were placed outside with no glass wall covering like here in Galveston's Moody Gardens.  The one in galveston or even in San Antonio seaworld places them in a glass area that replicates the cold environment they normally live in.  Not in Ueno Park.  They were actually opened up to the hot weather!  I thought that was strange, i guess it differs on their species!?!  Even weirder, they were placed right next to sea lions.
Anthony with Harajuku girls
  Umm, don't sea lions feed on them?  

Around 10, we headed over to Harajuku station.  It was Sunday, the popular day that the Harajuku girls hang out outside the station.  The Frommer's guide mentioned that the number of Harajuku girls hanging out there have dwindled, but we were able to see several there.  I think now, those who do hangout is mostly there for photo opps for the tourists, not so much for hanging out.  I thought we would see a lot more, but we saw more tourists than harajuku girls.  And there were some girls that even carried signs, "Free hugs and kisses!"  But at least we got to see them!  And i guess they change their "outfits" throughout the day because they carry small suitcases with them!

After that, we headed to Meiji Jingu, the Shinto Shrine dedicated to the souls of Emperor Meiji and his wife.

Wedding ceremony in Meiji Jingu
  We actually witnessed a few wedding ceremonies going on.  At first, we're like what is this procession all about?  Everyone was trying to capture shots, so we figured hey follow along. lol  The priests, couple, and the rest of the ppl in the procession didn't seem to mind.  Also, there were ikebana displays to view.

Continued on to Takeshita-dori, the street filled with shops, restaurants, cafes.  I thought the prices were expensive for clothes, at least similar to US shops so didn't buy anything there.  They even have wolfgang pucks and Mcdonald's at the entrance of the street.  We browsed through, saw several shops for Harajuku outfits, which are comparable to Montrose shops that sell used clothes from the past.  I couldn't imagine spending 5000-10000Y for outrageous looking outfits that will look STRANGE in the US.

Takeshita-dori
   There was also a dog clothing store with ridiculously priced outfits.  OMG.  And most of them were for toy dogs, I guess they prefer smaller dogs in Japan than the big huggable ones! lol  The street also had a few small restaurants taht serve crepe desserts. Yummy!

From Takeshita-dori, we turned right to some other street that led us to Omotesando-dori, another street full of shops.  These are the more high-end shops like LV and Gucci.  Obviously, we weren't going to check those out. LOL  We went to the Oriental Bazaar shop that sells Japanese souvenirs.  There was just TONS of people on a Sunday afternoon going shopping.  It was nuts. 

We ate lunch at Jonathan's restaurant.  There was a short wait, so I had to write my name in the wait list.

second floor of Jonathan's at Omotesando
  I noticed all the names listed were written in Kanji and i was all OMG, I hope they can read English letters!  LOL  But a little while later, I did hear them call out Donna-san! :) lol  Gabs and I ate chicken katsu and Anthony had some type of rice casserole dish.  Ok i've never really eaten with chopsticks before, but I think I've finally mastered it!  I had no choice but to learn!!  I like their ordering system.  You press a button at your table to call the waiter over.  When you place your order with him/her, they punch it into a little small notebook sized "computer" which sends the order to the cooks in the back.  Pretty neat and efficient!

So after lunch, we continued on looking around the area.  We walked on Omotesando and arrived at Oriental Bazaar, one of the area's popular souvenir store.

Akihabara
  We looked around through the expensive souvenirs. :/  I was able to resist from buying stuff. lol  I wanted a kimono and geta but figured I am never going to wear this in Houston. LOL  So I walked out empty handed.  We continued on walking down the street, no way we'd buy anything on that expensive street. LOL 

After Omotesando, we went to Akihabara.  This is the area that sells electronics goodies.  As I mentioned on my first entry, the prices were comparable to U.S. prices on goods.  We also decided not to get anything here so we're better off buying sale prices back at home.  LAOX is one of the popular stores there.  I think the 7th floor had the souvenir stuff.  I did want to buy a geisha doll to sit next to my chinese empress doll at home, but decided to wait til we got back to Tokyo from Kyoto so I wouldn't have to lug our goodies around.

So we were out pretty much the entire day.  We were so exhausted and we took the JR back.  We still didn't eat dinner, so when we arrived at Ueno Station, we looked around for some place to eat.  The nice sitdown restaurants in the station were like $10+.  We really didn't want to spend that much on dinner, we just wanted the simple, eat-n-go meals.  Then we saw a guy ordering a meal from a vending machine.  We watched him put his coins in, push a button of the meal he wanted, grabbed the ticket that printed out, went into the lil restaurant, handed the ticket to the cook, cook handed him the meal, man took his meal to a counter-like table and stood there to eat his dinner.  All this took no more than 3 min, including the time he ate his dinner!!  AMAZING.  Ant and I were like OMG we're doing this!  The vending machine meal items displayed the picture of the meal but some kanji characters.  So we pretty much just looked at the picture and picked out whatever looked good.  The meals were udon or soba (buckwheat noodle) soup with different types of meat choices.  The meals were less than $5.  I chose soba soup with a clump of fried shrimp, onion, and not sure what else was in it.  Ant ordered I think beef and udon noodle.  So I got my ticket from the machine, walked in the lil restaurant and handed her my little ticket.  In 10 seconds, she gave me my dinner!  For like a second I stood there waiting for her to tell me how much. I FORGOT I already paid at the vending machine. I'm a dork.  So we ate our dinner there, wow, I really learned how to use chopsticks fast... that or I was starving!!!!  Man it was delicious@!

Gabby doesn't like soup so she went to a nearby small shop that sold packaged dimsum, I think it was $5.  She just took it back to the hotel and ate it there.

Since we were leaving to Fuji-Five-Lakes the next day, we did a head start on packing that nite.  We really didn't want to bring mine and Anthony's suitcase so we were lucky that the hotel let us leave a luggage in the lobby's back room.  As long as we were coming back for our last two night's in Tokyo, it was ok.

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Gabby and I at the zoo
Gabby and I at the zoo
Anthony with Harajuku girls
Anthony with Harajuku girls
Wedding ceremony in Meiji Jingu
Wedding ceremony in Meiji Jingu
Takeshita-dori
Takeshita-dori
second floor of Jonathans at Omot…
second floor of Jonathan's at Omo…
Akihabara
Akihabara
Tokyo
photo by: maka77