Thursday, July 2, 2009

Tired, Busy, Happy

On this, our first full day in Tokyo, we made a pilgrimage to one of the most important landmarks in this great city ...

The Big Ol' Hello Kitty Statue
Honestly, Wynn worshipped at that thing as if it were an altar. She somehow managed to be both reverential and giddy at the same time. The Hello Kitty store it's attached to is, obviously, super cute, and we had fun looking at all the things you can emblazon with the likeness of a cartoon cat. We managed to escape with minimal damage to our pocketbook, but Wynn and I both own Hello Kitty purses and cell phone charms now. (She also got some clips for her hair. They didn't come in my size.)

The Hello Kitty Store

We had our first experiences riding the Tokyo Metro today. Slick and quick - everything's labeled well, tons of entry and exit points. We took the Metro to the section of the city called Shinjuku; this is where we were originally scheduled to stay until the lightning strike changed our plans and hotel reservations.

Anyhow, Shinjuku is a bustling part of town, filled with shops, traffic, and people. I believe I read somewhere that as many as two million people per day go through the train station at Shinjuku, and it is considered quite possibly the busiest place on Earth. Yeah, it was crowded.

Shinjuku Metro Platform

We spent quite a bit of time in Tokyu Hands, a big department store that feels a lot like Target in some places - and more like Ace Hardware in others. But then it also has departments such as "Laboratory Equipment", a name that made us curious enough to ride up eight floors worth of escalators to have a look. (It was beakers, models of the human brain, telescopes, educational games, etc.)

A Rainy Morning in Shinjuku

We walked around Shinjuku for most of the early-afternoon, peeking in the windows of Tiffany & Co., Chanel, Balenciaga, etc. but actually shopping in a small boutique that sells hand-dyed fabrics to use as wall hangings.

Scott and I spent the day pushing through the exhaustion of jet lag - and marveling at how it seems to have absolutely no effect on Wynn. Or seemed to have no effect on her. As we walked to dinner tonight, Wynn was suddenly struck by jet lag. She'd been great all day, but then it hit her like a ton of bricks. She passed out in the carrier on Scott's back and then slept on his lap through about half of dinner. She'd come to every now and then, looking around in a haze with this "Who moved everything forward fourteen hours?" expression on her face. She's passed out on the bed now, but Scott and I are still up and moving around; we're quite proud of the fact that we're up past 7:30 after the way we crashed last night.

For dinner tonight we found an amazing little restaurant about six blocks from the hotel. It's called Lotus Palace and is, seriously, about the size of our living room. The menu is in English (and even has pictures), and the features fresh, homemade Vietnamese food. I had spring rolls and pho ga (translation: the best bowl of chicken noodle soup in the world), and Scott had banh something, which was enormous, brightly colored, and involved shrimp, eggs, and bamboo shoots. Yummy, and amazingly inexpensive. One of the nicest meals I've ever had, and it was less than $30.

I mentioned how we were supposed to be at a hotel in Shinjuku but ended up in Akasaka instead. Having seen both parts of the city, I have to say I'm glad it turned out that way. Sure, Shinjuku would have given us greater variety of things right outside our door, but Akasaka feels more like a neighborhood. There's greenery around our hotel, and the pace here is a bit slower - and Starbuck's is only three blocks away.

Walking Around Akasaka

How We Get Under the Freeway
and to the Metro in Akasaka

More of the Streets of Akasaka,
Our Quiet Little Neighborhood

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