Our 2010 Asia Trip is off to a great start. Leaving Minneapolis, we were the last two passengers to get a first-class upgrade! Alissa and I enjoyed a 12 hour flight filled with movies, sleep, food, and of course a little champagne. We arrived in Tokyo right on time and were able to get through customs very fast. The real surprise came when we were able to get from the train station directly to our hotel on our first attempt. We walked out of the train station right into this scene at Shibuya Crossing:
Then, after staring at a street map (which by the way, north is not at the top of the street maps in Tokyo, the top of the map is the direction you are standing), we made a random guess on the direction of where to walk. “Look for a street name that starts with a symbol that looks like a house” was the discussion that got us there. We stayed at Sakura Fleur Aoyama Hotel, a cute little place, and I mean little. Not too surprising if you’ve been to Japan before, but we felt like giants in the doorways and shower.
Later that evening, We spent an hour navigating through the subway system to get to a concert venue where we thought there was supposed to be a concert. But when we got there, the place was closed and it looked like a ghost town. The concert was apparently at 7pm, and we were getting there around 11pm. Somehow the concert had ended and every single person and employee had left. At least we learned the train system enough to feel ok about getting to the airport the next day.
The next day started early (probably the jet-lag, we were both wide awake at 6am). We went to the Tsukiji Fish Market, a place famous for being “the biggest wholesale fish and seafood market in the world and also one of the largest wholesale food markets of any kind” (Wikipedia). I had heard about this place because my Grandpa visited it when he was on a three day holiday during the Korean War. It was a very cool site watching the locals scramble to buy as much gross looking fish as fast as possible. It is known that this market is the best place in the world to eat the freshest, best tasting sushi and sashimi in the world. We couldn’t pass up a 10am early lunch consisting of raw salmon and a few other unknown fish. We also each got a bowl of the world’s freshest sashimi with rice. I thought it was very good for sashimi, but it isn’t either of our favorite foods. (They wouldn’t let me take a picture of the food for some reason.)
Later, we headed toward the Sensoji (Asakusa Kannon Temple). Besides the temple, this area has tons of shops, food stands, and a park. It was good to spend a day here, since we wanted to stay in the city and go somewhere we wouldn’t get too lost. This is a pretty touristy area, and we fit right in with both of us carrying around bags and cameras. The main street walking toward the temple from the train station features lots of shops, temples, and white cherry blossomed trees. We took plenty of pictures: the trees only bloom for one week each year, and we were lucky enough to see it.
We then found the train to take us to the airport – well it ended up being about 4 trains, so it was a good thing we gave ourselves plenty of time. On the last leg of the 45 minute we happened to sit next to a man who said he was the King of Thailand’s Urologist. If you think I’m joking, just say to yourself, “could I make that up if I tried?” His job was to use science to guarantee the current prince of Thailand would have a son so that they had someone to inherit the throne. He was a very interesting man with very bad looking teeth.
That is all for now, it is off to Manila!