TOKYO: DAY 8

Local Flavor

It was our last full day in Tokyo and it felt the most “local” of our entire trip.

We spent the morning wandering around Shimokitazawa—a small neighborhood with vintage clothing shops, cafes and some fun toy stores. It reminded me of Hayes Valley.

Then we had a fantastic sushi lunch at a tiny place in Shibuya that really felt like a local’s place. We stumbled upon it and I’m so glad we went in. They were so kind to us. Oliver ate 12 pieces of tuna. I’m convinced he’s growing on this trip.

Oliver really wanted to go back to Kiddyland to spend the rest of his birthday yen. We stopped at a great Farmer’s Market in Aoyama on the way there and then weaved through back streets to get to Kiddyland in Omotesando.

After securing some Ninjago Legos at Kiddyland, we went to the National Art Center in Roppongi. We sat outside and sketched—the building itself is beautiful. Oliver loved the curved architecture.

We ended the day at a baseball game—the Tokyo Yakult Swallows vs. the Tokyo Yomiuri Giants. It was a small stadium in the heart of the city that felt a lot like seeing the As play. Oliver loved the differences between baseball in Japan versus the U.S. We sat on the home side (The Swallows) and the people sitting around us shared their snacks (Pocky and rice crackers) and introduced us to customs like waving umbrellas when the Swallows scored.

We had this conversation on our way back from the game after a long and fulfilling day:

Becca: Olly. you’ve easily walked 20-25 miles. Almost a marathon.

Olly: Today?

Ha! No… the entire trip. How many taxi rides do you think we’ve taken on this trip?

Hmmmm, maybe like 30 or so?

I bet 15 to 20. That’s a lot. Do you have a favorite day?

I liked the day we went to Legoland and rode the gigantic ferris wheel. We also ate those grilled noodles on tatami mats. And I got the Ninja shoes.

That was our second day here. It’s funny, that day was rainy, but it’s one of my favorite days too. Do you have any questions for me? You can ask me anything you want.

What is your favorite thing about Japan?

First of all, I love Tokyo. It’s a large fast-paced city, but it can feel so small and intimate. And Kyoto has such beauty and rich history. It was nice to visit two different cities. And I had so much fun exploring new places with you. You are a great travel companion.

What was your favorite food?

Definitely eating sushi at 6 in the morning at Tsukiji. Your dad and I went twice the last time we were here.

Ok, last question. What was your favorite temple?

The thousands of orange gates winding up the mountain at Fushimi Inari in Kyoto. What was your favorite?

I think the moss garden.

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Olly’s favorite stop on the way to the elevators.

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Elevator selfie.

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Local honey.

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We’ll miss you Toto Washlet.

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After many successful days of navigating the subway, we got lost for the first time. We took an express train instead of a local train and found ourselves far outside the city. Luckily, we were able to backtrack on a local train and find our way.

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Deep underground.

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Shimokitazawa

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Oliver took this photo.

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Shimokitazawa is full of vintage shops.

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And funky toy stores.

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A stop for coffee and apple juice at Bear Pond Espresso.

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The tiny sushi restaurant that we found in Shibuya.

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Biru.

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The sushi chef and owner. There were lots of personal touches to this place—books, handmade ceramics, artwork. It felt like someone’s home.

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Food trucks at the Farmer’s Market.

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Lemon scones that we bought and ate later at the baseball game.

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We bought some bonito flakes to make dashi.

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We were told this was “very special apple juice”.

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Bamboo shoots. We ate a lot of these in Kyoto.

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Making our way to Kiddyland through the backstreets of Aoyama/Omotesando.

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Kiddyland

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We bought one of these for Lola.

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National Art Center in Roppongi.

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Sketching outside the museum.

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Inspecting new Ninjago Legos. The box was almost as exciting as what was inside.

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Oliver loved looking up at the curved walls. He kept saying, “This is so cool—Mom, you have to come look!”

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Inside the National Art Center.

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Oliver looks like he’s ready to go off to college in this picture.

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Three-legged chairs.

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Meiji Jingu Stadium

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We’re rooting for the Swallows tonight.

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Beer girls with keg backpacks. 

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Everyone in the crowd had bats that they would hit together and yell, “Go Go Swallows!”

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The snack bar. Sure, they had some of our favorites—popcorn and ice cream—but they also had ramen, yakitori, and bento boxes.

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Watching the sun set as the game starts.

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The umbrella dance as the Swallows score first.

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Funny story about this innocent looking “Ice Smoothie”. I bought it for Oliver assuming it was a frozen lemonade. He drank about half and I flippantly said, “Hey, can I try some?” It was totally boozy! What ensued was a hilarious conversation with the young man sitting next to me (who did not speak English) about whether this was an adult drink. Lots of pointing at me and then Olly and then shrugging my shoulders. He indeed confirmed it was alcoholic. Not knowing if Oliver was going to pass out or start acting crazy, I kept asking him how he was doing. He kept saying, “Mom, I’m fine!” Well, I’m relieved to know Olly can handle his liquor. File under: Oliver’s first cocktail.

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