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A Full Day in Tokyo

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Ueno Park and Its Blue Tarps



Being our first day in Tokyo, we decided to get up at 8:00AM, eat breakfast and head out to see what Tokyo had to offer.  We had heard that Ueno Park was a place where many local were known to hang out as it is their version of Central Park.  Sounded good to me!  So we headed to the train station and we were off.

 

Unfortunately, once we got there, we did end up getting lost.  How one misses a big park, I will never know, but we did and ended up walking around in this uninhabited industrial park.  Strange.  So we doubled back to the station and we were off.


One thing to say about Ueno Park…it is a madhouse or at least during Cherry Blossom season.

Crazy Crowds at Ueno park
  We thought it would be pretty quiet as it was about 10:00AM when we got there, but we were oh so wrong!  There were people everywhere under every possible spot under the trees and on the grass.  Some had even spilled out onto the sidewalk area, every last one of them on a big blue tarp having picnics.  It was confusing to me because it was too early to have a picnic and also, it was really chilly, but it didn’t stop people who were dressed up in coats and eating various types of food and drinks including liquor at yes, I will say it again, 10:00AM.


We walked further into the park until we came upon an area with cherry trees surrounding both sides of the path.  They were beautiful and had brought out everyone and their mother that morning.  I will say it again, it was madness!  You could barely walk and the people were so thick and dense you couldn't even see the end of the trail.  Still it was a beautiful walk, but so crowded it was hard to fully enjoy it as you had to watch where you were going so as not to step on people.  When we did come to the end, we stood next to an area with a fountain and took some photos of the crowd from the steps.


There is a lot to see in Ueno Park depending on what you want to do and it does have a temple though not as impressive as what we had seen in Kyoto and Nara.

Yummy Fish!
  Still walking down the path to the temple was cool as there were food stands everywhere in which you could buy all kinds of treats.  We came upon a stall that had baby octopuses on the grill and next to it, a stall that had a full fish on a stick cooking in a round.  Tempting as they both were, I grabbed a chocolate dipped banana instead.  Living in the fast lane I know!

 

After the temples, we wandered to the other side of Ueno that is near the water, the same side as the temple.  There were less people there and even though the cherry blossoms weren’t as impressive, it was more relaxing.  There we decided where we wanted to go next.  I had decided I wanted a unique experience for my birthday and decided it was time to head to Ikebukuro, there we could experience that which is Sunshine City.  Nobody can be in a bad mood while in Sunshine City.

 

Sunshine City is a complex that houses a planetarium, aquarium, restaurants and lots and lots of shopping.

Sunshine City!
  Our goal Namja Town!  Why?  Because it seemed crazy and that was what I wanted.  Well that and I was told Ice Cream World was there and they had rose ice cream, which is my favorite and I am unable to find it in NYC anymore.  Yes, I traveled around the world to have Rose Petal Ice Cream for my Birthday.

 

Namja Town does cost extra, but it is only 300 Yen, so I was in!  Now, how to explain Namja Town, wow.  It is a unique experience.  Namja Town is divided into a few floors and sections some for food, some for fun.  There are only a few attractions that are in English, so yes, to get the full experience it helps to understand Japanese, but trust me, even being an English speaker, you will still get the gist and have many what just happened moments?

 

I really enjoyed the haunted town, it was bizarre but kept us busy for a long time.

Rilakkuma
  We enjoyed the haunted show with the statuettes with the glowing red eyes and also Hell’s Toilet was fun if only for the name.  There is also an area where there is food with a stage that had various stage props that will sing.  Strange, but that is what you came here for!  That and for Ice Cream City!

 

Oh, man, Ice Cream City!  All of your ice cream dreams will be answered here in the forms of sundaes, cones, or small tubs of curious flavors that will push you to the limit.  Examples: Eel, Charcoal, Lamb Raisin, Crab, Chicken Wing, Ox Tongue and Jersey Milk which scared me most because I have been to Jersey!  I ended up having the Charcoal and the Rose flavors while Noah had Silk and Lamb Raisin.  Strangely enough, the silk was the scariest flavorwise, yeah didn’t see that coming, either.


I have to say our stay in Namja Town and well, Sunshine City itself was pretty memorable.  Good shopping, fun food and crazy times.  We also, saw Goldilocks and the three bears while we were there.  They were having a performance of some sort.  The odd thing is these characters had more security than the White House.  You think I am kidding, I am not.  They had people who were like the secret service circling and if you tried to take a photo you were stopped.  I’m sorry, I broke the rules and I got one.  It was just too crazy to believe!  Luckily I also got to meet Rilakkuma (Relax Bear in English) and got my photo taken.  He was more approachable then the other three bears, so all and all it was quite the success.


After Sunshine City, we headed out to Senso-ji an ancient Buddhist temple located in Asakusa.

Senso-ji Area
  All I can tell you is, it was crowded!  One: because of the temple, two: because this is the place to gel all of your souvenirs for your family and friends as they have two long lines of stall with everything you are looking for.  The temple itself was being renovated so we couldn't really see much which was a disappointment.  Also, we had seen so many temples in Kyoto and Nara, that this one paled a little in comparison.  At Senso-ji you can also get your fortune told in several languages.  The interesting thing was I watched for 15 minutes and not one person appeared to get a good fortune including myself.  It seemed a little curious.  The good thing is that if your fortune is bad, you can tie the paper onto a nearby string where your bad luck will be dispersed into the wind.  Whew!  Good, I guess I will stick with my fortune in Nara. 


Due to Senso-ji being closed, there really wasn't a lot to do there though there were some nice photo opportunities once it was twilight.  So after about an hour we headed back to our neighborhood to chill and have some dinner and drinks.  It was entertaining because there appeared to be to be a block party going on with ice sculptures (it was 60 degrees out) and live music playing late into the evening.  It ended up being a chill but cool night.






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Ueno Park and Its Blue Tarps
Ueno Park and Its Blue Tarps
Ueno Park
Ueno Park
Crazy Crowds at Ueno park
Crazy Crowds at Ueno park
Yummy Fish!
Yummy Fish!
Sunshine City!
Sunshine City!
Rilakkuma
Rilakkuma
Charcoal Flavor
Charcoal Flavor
Senso-ji Area
Senso-ji Area
Ueno Duck
Ueno Duck
Cherry Blossom Cloud Cover
Cherry Blossom Cloud Cover
Oh Yeah!
Oh Yeah!
Ghost Town
Ghost Town
I Have No Idea...Namja
I Have No Idea...Namja
All Ice Cream All the Time
All Ice Cream All the Time
Contraband, Watch for Security!
Contraband, Watch for Security!
Senso-ji
Senso-ji
Senso-ji
Senso-ji
Senso-ji
Senso-ji
Senso-ji
Senso-ji
Senso-ji
Senso-ji
Ice Sculptures
Ice Sculptures
Tokyo
photo by: maka77