Final Days in Tokyo – May 2014 Trip

Read on for our finals day in Tokyo, and our Japan 2014 trip overall!

Day 10: Tokyo: Coco’s Curry, Akihabara, Ueno Shopping Area

Photo album for Day 10 (Wednesday, May 28)
We grabbed some tasty pastries from our go-to breakfast place in Kyoto (Deli France – close to our hotels and with amazing pastries like BBQ chicken bread and chocolate churros!). We took the shinkansen (bullet train) back from Kyoto to Tokyo and made our way to our home-away-from home in Tokyo, the New Izu Hotel.

We had an obligatory lunch at Coco’s Curry (which we almost didn’t find!) – it’s a chain of curry restaurants (technically called “Curry House Coco Ichibanya”) that Andrew really enjoyed last time. We’d only been to a restaurant in Kyoto before (and one in Hawaii, the only Coco’s Curry in the U.S.!). This time we found one near Akihabara. The dishes generally are half rice, half curry sauce, and then a fried/breaded piece (like tender meat or fish) that goes on top. Andrew and I then wandered around Akihabara some more (I was looking for certain electronics parts for a side-project at the time). (At this time, my parents went to the Tokyo Edo Museum, which we’d enjoyed going to last time but didn’t need to go to again.)

For dinner, we went back to the many restaurants in the shopping area near Ueno station, and actually had dinner at one of the first restaurants we went to before, called Za-Watami. They had an assortment of tasty food, including a nice salad (rare to have such great fresh greens!), steak, noodle dishes with egg, and meat skewers.

Day 11: Tokyo: Tsukiji, Akihabara, Ueno Park, Harajuku, Dinner with Masumi

Photo album for Day 11 (Thursday, May 29)
Andrew and I got up early to go back for a tasty meal of ramen (so amazing!) and conveyor belt sushi (zushi) at the Tsukiji Fish Market. It was probably the best sushi we’d ever had – fish caught just a few hours earlier. (At the same time, my parents explored Ueno Park, which we’d seen before – it’s the pictures of koi and the lily pad-covered pond.)

After that, Andrew and I wandered around town a bit. We went back to Harajuku (where we’d gone in Day 2). There we got a crepe and again explored the giant toy store, Kiddyland. This time we felt more relaxed and just enjoyed looking at all the fascinating toys, from Miyazaki-inspired toys to flying balls (my father actually ended up getting one the next day, from a toy store beneath the Sony Building).

From Harajuku we walked through the nearby park, Yoyogi Park, where we admired the plants, fountains, and general people-watching. Then, feeling crazy, we walked on to Shinjuku in search of more claw machine arcades, and we found several there! But the most interesting game was a zombie game that featured one of Japan’s popular bands, AKB48. It was a pretty bizarre mash-up of pop culture and the zombie craze.
We then met up with my father in Akihabara and wandered through electronics shops there, and other interesting shops. He was particularly interested in vacuum tubes (which were surprisingly common), so it made for a fun scavenger hunt.

For dinner, we met up with a friend of Andrew’s family, Masumi. We went to a restaurant near the Ueno station that did shabu-shabu. We would have been hopelessly unable to eat there without her help – basically, there are thin slices of meat that get cooked in boiling pots of water on your table (like fondue), but there were so many different marinade choices that we would have been unable to tell the people at the restaurant what we wanted to eat. We were very grateful to have Masumi help us with the process! It was really great to get to meet and talk to Masumi to see what she had been up to, and how life was for her in Japan (she’d lived in the U.S. for many years before moving back to Japan). It’s really great to have people to meet up with when traveling to another country like that.

Day 12: Tokyo: Ueno Park, Tsukiji, Akihabara, Sony Building

Photo album for Day 12 (Friday, May 30)
Andrew, my father, and I got up early and wandered around the Ueno Park area some more. Apparently there’s a zoo there – we didn’t go in, but saw many, many school kids going on field trips there in large groups. There was also an amazing display of bonsais (like what we’d seen in Nagoya). There were many plants for sale too, very inexpensive.

From there we all headed to Tsuikiji again to get one last delicious bowl of ramen together and explore the shops. We saw some blocks of egg omelet being pressed into shape at one stand – it was fascinating (omelet chunks were being sold as carrying-around food). We also went back to the conveyor belt sushi place and got several plates of amazing sushi (it’s priced by the plate, with a different price for each colored-price, but they’re actually priced using a microchip scanner!).

We headed back to Akihabara to again look at electronics shops and play some claw machines. Then we explored a toy store by Ueno station (we’d gone to it a lot on our last trip) – in the basement they have an amazing collection of Studio Ghibli/Miyazaki-related toys, so we had to get some last souvenirs!

Since it was a hot day, we decided to go to the indoor, air-conditioned Sony Building. It features all the latest products coming out of Sony. One of the most interesting products was a motion-detecting setup that moved little aliens around a screen depending on how you waved your arms, as if they were actually right next to you and you were flinging them away from you. Another neat product/demo was showing how a video recorder accounts for being shaken around while filming – it had an amazing ability to auto-correct for the bumpiness.

We ended up getting dinner at a restaurant near Ueno station (many small courses including salad, miso soup, white rice, other veggies, and a pickled assortment – the pretty standard meal fare). Then we actually stopped by Baskin Robbins for desert! I couldn’t get over how cute they’d made some of the deserts look – I’d probably get ice cream out more if we had that here!

Day 13: Leaving Tokyo

Photo album for Day 13 (Saturday, May 31)
Not much to say this day – we left Tokyo and headed back home to Colorado! We enjoyed seeing some final adorable pastries, a fascinating koi sculpture (made from basically nickels), a beautiful origami shop at the Narita airport, and a cute sign at the airport advertising the direct flights to Denver (we didn’t take one since they were much more expensive, and not that much faster). Andrew also had to try some Japanese McDonald’s, which is a much higher quality than ours.
And that was our 2014 trip to Japan!

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