no walking cigarettes
Today was Easter, but it didnâ€™t feel like it. It took us all awhile to get ready since 5 of us had to share the bathroom and shower. I love their toilets here! When you walk in, the toilet lid automatically opens and the seat is warm. When you are finished, there are 3 rinse settings for your backside, plus a fan to dry it. There are also separate toilet slippers, so make sure not to use your house slippers in the toilet room.
After a nice, hot shower and clean clothes, we set out to explore Tokyo. It was almost lunchtime before we left.
Miwako and I walked from their home in to the nearby district of Sugamo (or was it Sengoku?), which is considered the Harajuku of old people. We passed a bunch of cherry blossoms on the way. And then I saw what she meant â€“ I towered over everyone, and Iâ€™m not a tall person. The sidewalks were filled with people, many of them old and short.
cherry blossoms by a house
We stopped to eat at Ajisen, which is a pancake house (Okonomiyaki) - but not what you might think of as pancakes. Each table has a griddle in the middle and you cook what you order. We got okonomiyaki with shrimp, calamari, pork and cabbage and cooked it into a round, thick pancake. Then we topped it with Worchester sauce, Bonito (fish flakes) and mayo.
It was actually really good! We also got monjayaki, which was cabbage and broth. I had a Chu-hi, which is sho-chu mixed with juice. It was a really nice lunch and not one I would have found on my own, or been able to order had I found it. After lunch we took the train to Ueno Station, along with a million other people.
picnickers at Ueno Park
I knew Tokyo has a lot of people, but I really wasnâ€™t prepared for this sea of humanity. We went to Ueno Park, which is a very popular place to see cherry blossoms in Tokyo.
And about a million people were doing just that while we were there. A popular activity is to have a picnic under the cherry blossoms. By picnic, I mean, you put down a blue tarp early in the day to save your place, then spend hours with a bunch of your friends, family or co-workers eating and drinking. It was a cool, cloudy day, yet hundreds of people were out picnicking. A wide street was lined with cherry trees with the pink and white blossoms stretching overhead to form a flowery canopy. Picnickers were lined up under the trees and thousands of people were in the street walking up and down looking at the blossoms. We got into the crowd and just walked, looking up and around. You couldnâ€™t stop to take a picture because you would get pushed from behind. We must have been 20 people across (10 moving in each direction) and the road must have stretched for half a mile. The road was packed, the tarps under the cherry trees were packed, it was just crazy! But it was orderly. We walked up one side, then turned around and came back down the other. Whew! There were a LOT of people there. I was ready to leave, but we still had to fight the crowds at the train station.
walking back under the sakura canopy