A Few Days In Tokyo

Warning to all of you TL;DNR people - this is long.

 View of the Meganebashi bridge at the Imperial Palace grounds

View of the Meganebashi bridge at the Imperial Palace grounds

We arrived Friday, and by the time we navigated customs, activated rail passes and checked in to the hotel, we were done. Grabbed some ramen and passed out by 8 pm - which means we were awake at 4. Jet lag is a bitch on the other side of the world. 

Spent Saturday wandering around Central Tokyo, including the Imperial Palace grounds - the Palace itself is only open to the public two days a year, as it is the residence of the Emperor. 

We spent the afternoon on a bus tour that included a driv through Central Tokyo, Ginza, and Northern Tokyo with stops at the Senosji Temple and the Tokyo Skytree. The temple complex was...not what we were expecting. Another area destroyed by air raids in World War II, this was rebuilt in the 1960s, and while there is certain ally Buddhist and Shinto significance, it's VERY touristy, with the main draw being shopping (our guide was extremely surprised that we had done no shopping at all - in fact, shopping seems to be a major activity here).

 Sensoji Temple

Sensoji Temple

 View of the Sensoji pagoda

View of the Sensoji pagoda

From there we headed to the observation deck of the Tokyo Skytree - a new TV tower that provides panoramic views of the city. It was a perfect day for it. And because I was a jet lagged idiot, you only get this photo of the view and none of the tower itself.

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On Sunday, we took advantage of the great weather and went up to the Meiji shrine and gardens. If I were to come here again, I would skip Sensoji and just go here. Another reconstruction (and under renovation right now), this temple is considered more authentic. And we lucked out, and a wedding was happening:

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The gardens were amazing, of course: 

 View of the iris gardens at Meiji

View of the iris gardens at Meiji

We then walked - apparently the long way - to Shinjuku Gyoen, one of Tokyo's largest public parks. The park started  as a lord's residence in 1603, then converted to a botanical garden. It was destroyed in World War II and rebuilt - a recurring theme here.

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But wait! There's still more! We went to Shibuya, and had a Starbucks overlooking the World's Busiest Intersection: 

 View of the intersection BEFORE about 2000 people crossed in six different directions. It's crazy.

View of the intersection BEFORE about 2000 people crossed in six different directions. It's crazy.

And we went to Ueon, another park, and ended the day at a basement yakatori bar, where you can get every part of a chicken on a skewer, among other things. Vonn ordered a lemon cocktail and got to roll dice to get upgraded to a large. 

 Vonn's drink, shown here next to my carafe of decent red wine. We think the drink was fresh lemonade with sparkling sake, but we aren't sure... 

Vonn's drink, shown here next to my carafe of decent red wine. We think the drink was fresh lemonade with sparkling sake, but we aren't sure...