TOKYO: DAY 1

Everything is Awesome

Alex: Olly, after your first full day in Tokyo, what are some big differences between Japan and the United States?

Olly: It has more fish… Tokyo is much much bigger than Oakland—and more crowded. It’s also cleaner. Everyone has black hair. And then there’s the fast bullet train. Oh, and the toilets have a button that sprays water on your bottom (giggle).

Becca: I like the little musical noises coming from unexpected places—vending machines, doorways, elevators. I also love how much this culture likes fashion trends—especially the girls dressed up like dolls outside of La Foret in Harajuku. There is a lovely attention to detail.

Alex: What was your first impression of the subway?

Olly: It’s like a huge maze.

Becca: I remember how confusing the subway was the last time we were here. I had many Monument Valley moments—you’re in a maze with stairs going up and down, you’re given little clues as to where you’re supposed to go, doorways appear and disappear and then finally, miraculously, you make it to the next level—your train. And it’s all in Japanese!

Alex: Do you miss anything about the United States?

Olly: No.

Not anything?

Olly: Ok, I miss my sister.

If Lola were here, what would have been her favorite thing so far?

Olly: Eating wagashi.

We tried lots of food today. Do you have a favorite thing you ate? Mine was the tonkatsu for lunch.

Olly: Sushi.

Becca: Tankatsu, spicy rice crackers, matcha soft serve ice cream, and the rice porridge we had for breakfast.

Do you have a favorite moment from today? Mine is watching Olly choose the “Fish Extravaganza” at the Isetan depachika.

Olly: When dad said “no” to getting the “Fish Extravaganza”! (giggle) But then we got it.

Becca: I really liked walking around Shinjuku at dusk—it felt like the city lit up and came to life. I loved exploring the little alleyways—Omoide Yochiko and the Golden Gai district—and visiting the tranquil Hanazono Shrine hidden amidst the bustle of Shinjuku.

P2190713

Our hotel had thoughtfully filled our room with kid-sized items—bathrobes, pajamas, and toiletries (quite possibly the smallest tube of toothpaste we’ve every seen). First thing in the morning, Oliver immediately donned the robe.

P2190676

Land of the Rising Sun. Taking in the morning view from the 49th floor at 5am

P2190723

Rice porridge with salmon and seaweed.

P2190726

The 41st floor.

P2190731

Shooting film.

P2190745

Olly thought the building in the distance looked like a rocket ship.

P2190748

Morning haze.

P2190751

Our first vending machine purchase.

P2190758

Navigating the subway maze in Japanese.

P2190764

Riding the subway from Shinjuku to Harajuku.

P2190789

Crepes. Crepes. Crepes.

P2190793

Takeshitadōri in Harajuku.

P2190797

Who cares that we just had breakfast…

P2190818

Olly ordered the matcha green tea crepe—not even tempted by the one that had lettuce, tuna, and mayo.

P2190810

First bite.

P2190823

We read somewhere that Japan is not a culture of walking and eating. But this crepe was devoured pretty quickly, so walking and eating didn’t last long.

P2190841

Harajuku girls lined up outside La Foret for the doors to open.

P2190848

Beautiful clean crosswalks.

P2190858

We walked from Harajuku to Omotesando. I love the reflections of Tokyo Plaza (above).

P2190867

We got to Kiddyland as it was opening. The line of people waiting to get in—ironically adults—poured in as they opened the doors. We made it up to the second floor where there was a lot of Finn Family Moomintroll, Miffy, and Totoro. Bought some great gifts. Olly used some of his own yen to buy a toy Shinkansen (bullet train) and a kendama. Lots of fun Japanese characters. A favorite: a banana named “Elite Banana” who wears a tie and glasses and has his own TV show. Intrigued…

P2190866

P2190874

P2190879

P2190886

P2190911

P2190919

Back on the street walking from Omotesando to Aoyama.

P2190935

P2190931

We stopped to stop and rest at the Prada store in Aoyama. There were benches outside, so we sat down and sketched in Olly’s journal. The Prada building has beautiful geometric windows that made for fun drawing. Olly loved how the windows looked flat from the front, but they were actually curved as seen from the side.

P2190946

P2190954

P2190957

P2190966

P2200010

Even though it was Saturday, we saw lots of school kids. These girls looked like Olly’s age. We really liked their matching backpacks and hats. We saw lots of students with this style backpack all day.

P2200012

Bamboo at the Nezu Museum.

P2200014

We stopped at a lovely little store—Higashiya Man—that sold intricately wrapped wagashi behind sliding wood doors. Outside the store, there was a window that sold gooey rice balls on a stick. Not to be missed. Our first order dropped on the ground because the stick was so sticky.

P2200019

P2200029

This is our second order.

P2200031

On our way to lunch back in Omotesando, we hit the rice cracker jackpot. This store sold probably 200 different types of sembei. Can’t get enough of these salty little treats.

P2200034

P2200037

P2200048

Walking and eating again. This time salmon onigiri.

P2200082

We had lunch at Maisen—known for it’s pork tonkatsu. This meal was incredible. Crispy panko-crusted pork with sweet and sour dipping sauce. Served with thinly sliced cabbage, pickled vegetables, rice and miso soup. 

P2200055

P2200097

P2200106

We got a seat at the counter where we could watch it all go down.

P2200117

P2200122

P2200126

Or you could always get your tonkatsu on a stick…

P2200127

The first of hopefully many matcha soft serve.

P2200136

Cones.

P2200145

P2200150

P2200182

We went back to the hotel to rest. Olly fell fast asleep with Finn.

P2200211

Lots of Japanese business people at our hotel.

P2200237

Back out on the street. Exploring the bustling neon of Shinjuku. We ducked off the main road to a small dark alleyway—Omoide Yochiko (below)—where locals dined on yakitori in small stalls that sat 3 or 4 people. Smoke wafted from the small grills—it smelled incredible. We walked up and down the alleyway twice just taking it all in.

P2200247

P2200249

P2200253

P2200259

P2200261

P2200270

P2200283

P2200284

P2200301

Back on the busy Shinjuku streets, we made our way through thick crowds of people in search of the Hanazono Shrine. It seemed crazy that a quiet temple would be located amidst this bustle.

P2200316

P2200325

P2200329

P2200339

Run! It’s Godzilla! No, really, it is. See him?

P2200340

Finally, we found the shrine, literally tucked away behind tall buildings.

P2200370

P2200384

P2200351

P2200415

P2200409

P2200420

More tiny dark alleyways—this time the Golden Gai district next to the temple.

P2200438

We ended our day with a culinary adventure at the depachika in the basement of Isetan. We filled our basket with goodies for dinner.

P2200439

P2200448

P2200450

Everything is it’s right place.

P2200453

P2200455

P2200465

P2200480

A tired Olly. 

P2200522

Olly was feeling very adventurous and chose this “Fish Extravaganza” for dinner. He gobbled up the fish eggs first!

P2200534

Yakitori watercolor.

P2200513

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s