Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Last Full Day in Tokyo

Another day, another baguette (for William). Luckily for our family's pickiest eater, most countries in the world have some form of a french baguette, so Will can survive without starving.

On Wednesday, we had breakfast and skipped swimming in the hotel so we could go to the Shinjuku Train Station and figure out how to get to some suburban park Amy heard about. We
stopped at another Japanese department store and picked up our picnic lunch, then things got a bit confusing in the train station, but we finally figured out where to go. The train ride to a place called "Nishi-Tachikawa" took around 40 minutes, but then Showa Kinen Park was right
across the street.

We walked past the pretty flower beds to the Children's Playground area and it was the coolest place ever! They had this area called the Bouncing Dome which was like a trampoline on a hill. Matt and Amy ate lunch and the kids went to jump.

T & W were soon surrounded by a bunch of Japanese kids who spoke a little bit of English and asked them "What color do you like?" and "What are your parents' names?" and other phrases they learned in school. Matt went up to jump with the kids and was surrounded by people that wanted to jump with him b/c he could make big bounces. Some guy with no teeth could jump four or five feet into the air. Matt rolled down the hill and crushed William's hand, but William was not dead.

We explored the rest of the Children's area. It had stone dragons, a fog maker, colored hammocks and a standing slide. The boys had some yummy shaved ice and Yamini had some "cherry blossom" ice cream while we walked through the park back to the train

We got out of the train at Tokyo Station (and of course had to pay extra, since we had paid the wrong price for the return tickets) and walked around some Marounuchi buildings which were very pretty and modern. Matt, Amy, & Yamini had curry udon soup for dinner while William ate his baguette and Trevor had rice.
Found a fun poorly translated sign in the shopping mall bathroom warning people not to smoke "All over the Toilet."

So, out of the top 10 things to see in our Tokyo Guidebook, we ended up seeing one thing - The Imperial Palace Gardens. But at least that was the #1 thing and we think Showa Kinen Park should be on that list anyway. More later.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Tokyo Day 2

Breakfast & swimming at hotel. First stop was Takashimaya Department Store food hall. We each picked a food from the zillion gourmet food booths. Will and Trevor had chicken yakitori, Yamini had sushi, Matt and Amy had these sushi style salads with rice, egg, tuna, salmon roe and a couple pieces of eel. We had some very delicious strawberries.

Took our picnic to the grounds of the Imperial Palace. The Emperor has a very nice back yard! We saw some cherry blossoms, looks like there will be more to come and it seems like the locals were starting to come out to welcome the cherry blossoms too. Matt had to carry around our trash for nearly two hours after being yelled at by a park employee for trying to lift the cover of a garbage can to fit the trash bag inside -- "Take your trash home!" she said, and it seems like that's what everyone does b/c there are no trashcans anywhere in Tokyo even though there is no trash on the street, in the subway, etc.

Kids found a big lawn for a game of tag and we walked around the whole outside of the Imperial
Palace. It is on what appears to be a huge island in the center of the city with high walls and a moat around it. Very good security. Will and Trevor used up the time on the long walk by singing song lyrics to every top 40 song they like.

At night we had tickets for a baseball game at the Tokyo Dome. Sapporo Nippon Fighters vs. the Buffaloes from some other city. Got out of the
subway at Tokyo Dome City which is like a big amusement park in the middle of the city. Obviously a city that can fit an Emperor's palace and an amusement park and baseball dome in the center is huge, and for us it does seem much bigger than NYC (boys want to add "but not better . ."). You can walk forever just inside one subway stop and people do seem to spend a lot of time walking underground b/c of the subway system. Subway cars are (boys admit) better than New York - long, comfortable sofa type benches, clean, quiet and safe.

For dinner we had hamburgers! Plain for Yamini and Matt, cheeseburger for Trev, and a Teriyaki burger for Amy. Will just munched on fries and got a "cone of popcorn" at
the game. Matt and I had a beer from a "beer girl" (they walk around with kegs in colored backpacks the whole time) and a banana, choc and whipped creme crepe that was yummy. Fighters were getting their butts kicked to the disappointment of many little league kids in the seats around us. Fans buy tickets for the "home" or "away" side of the stadium and there are whole sections devoted to fans that bring huge flags, dress in team colors and yell encouragement the whole time their team is at bat. (Note to Yankee and Boston fans - they do not seem to yell that the other team "sucks" when they are losing.) We noticed Alex Cabrera, a Venezuelan player among the Japanese guys. Turns out he is a former AZ Diamondbacks player who was accused of using steroids, but he of course denied it and has
tested clean in Japan. We left at the end of the 5th inning after they did a rousing rendition of YMCA with cheerleaders instead of Yankee groundskeeper. Will thought they did a bad job on letter "A" and Trevor thought the C's went the wrong way.

Monday, March 29, 2010

First Day in Tokyo, Japan

We woke up in the morning feeling like P. Diddy . .(just kidding)

We spent 13+ hours on our Japan Airlines flight. Trevor puked on Matt's leg. Watched lots of movies. William was freaked out by "Paranormal Activity," Amy liked "Up in the Air," Yamini liked the Drew Barrymore thing with the Roller Derby Girls. Matt watched "Couples Retreat" three times and everyone watched "Blind Side."

Landed at Narita airport. Got bus tickets to go to Tokyo and William had a disgusting Japanese hot dog. The hotel is "awesomeness" according to T & W - nice pool, nice room AND American Breakfast!!

First night went to the Ginza (upscale shopping area) and had dinner at a Tempura place where the chef made two items at a time and brought each thing over. The cute older lady waitresses didn't speak English, but were very sweet. Went to Apple store and had pieces of these five-foot long rotisserie donuts. Back to hotel to pass out by 7pm.
Started first full day with Fish Market at 5am. Avoided getting killed by guys driving carts around, watched people bidding for large frozen tuna and ate sushi for breakfast afterwards (well, no sushi for boys.)

Back to hotel for breakfast and a swim. T & W moussed up their hair and we wandered around Tokyo on our first full day in some chilly wet weather. First stop Kiddyland - 5 floors of so many cool character stuff we liked but didn't need. Yamini's favorite - Snoopy World. Amy took Yamini to Shibuya 109, crazy store for Japanese teenage girls where they obviously spend way to much money on cheap clothes, jewelry, bags and cell phone decals. Matt and boys found Club Sega where girls go to have cell phone pictures taken in these little booths. (Some in french maid costumes . .)

Had soup for lunch (not W & T though) where you pay in a machine outside then go in and get your ramen. Walked forever to get to the very disappointing Pokemon Center. (Basically, a store.) Then took a very long cab ride to a yakitori restaurant only to be told they were closed for a private party!! Guy who worked there walked us to another place around the corner that was pretty good but Will didn't like the green stuff in the pork. Used our poorly working subway passes that only work on some, but not all subway lines to get back to hotel and pass out again! More later . . . .