First Full Day in Tokyo
After landing at Narita we picked up our bags and whisked through customs. We managed to find the fast train into Tokyo courtesy of some solid directions from our amazing neighbour, Vicki, who was born in Japan.
Then we hopped into a spotless taxi with faux lace seat covers and a few minutes later we arrived at our hotel. The hotel is new and occupies Floors 30-36 of a glass office building. We havea stunning view of the Emperor's Palace and can see the Tokyo Skytree in the distance. Our spirit of adventure was starting to wane after being on the go for nearly 20 hours so we ate at the hotel. The view was amazing! Bed time was early.
I woke up pre-sunrise which is rare for me. However, it was perfect because the Tsukiji Fish Market is an early morning place. The closer we got to it, the more uncomfortably busy it became. Dozens of turret trucks circle the inner market which is surrounded by market stalls and small sushi stands that seat no more than 10-15 people. There was a massive line for the more popular places so we decided to move away from them towards some of the more friendly quieter places.
Being hangry is a symptom of jet lag. It was great to see the sun rise. It was great to get to the market in the morning. However, we weren't capable of basic decision making. In spite of being in one of the worlds largest fish markets, we had a hard time choosing a sushi place that was just right. Some had big line ups, some were just full, but we didn't want to wait. Others had photos of things Julia didn't feel like eating (and for a while she was not wanting to have fish for breakfast).
One of my travel mottos is ABC - Always be Charging! While WiFi is everywhere in Tokyo, free WiFi is not and there are often hurdles (like providing your passport info) to setting up accounts. I pre-ordered a WiFi egg on the advice of Andy Richter via twitter.
I also ordered a portable charger to keep the WiFi egg going all day. I also have a portable charger for my iPhone. You can't play Pokemon go without one. You also can't be wandering around a strange city for 12 hours without one either. I like using Google Maps to navigate but if my battery dies, I'm going to have to look at the map and that is a conspicuous thing to do in the modern era. People are going to gawk at the lost Luddite couple with their tree killing guidebooks and paper maps. Navigating is hard enough when a wave of jet lag rears its ugly head.
We managed to navigate from the Tsujiki Fish Market to the Ginza shopping district pretty easily. Most of the fancy stores stores don't open until 10-11AM so we were there early. The streets were quite and uncrowded. The luxury market in Tokyo appears soft.
After a light lunch of sushi (two meals in a row!) in a nice department store, we opted for a Hop on bus tour. It was good to see some different areas of Tokyo. Serious architecture and numerous small footprint tallish (~7 stories) buildings no doubt built on a piece of land that didn't become part of a property package. We basically went from the east side of the Imperial Palace out to the Tokyo Skytree and back.
We were tired and thirsty after from being in the open air on a sunny low 30°s day so we took a break at a Starbucks. This is where my ABC strategy paid off as I was able to find a fun restaurant called Andy's Shin Hinomoto that was only 9 minutes away. It was located under train tracks, and had good food. They served big mugs of beer and lots of seafood, including King Crab. Horribly behaved children fathered by expats were running around and plates were crashing at the adjacent table. Across the narrow dining area, a large gathering of what I made out to be British wrestlers gathered. A loud graphic description of someone's neck injury and instant relief after treatment provided some entertainment. As I was cracking my fifth piece of crab, Julia pointed out that "this is a place for eating, not dining". I had no rebuttal as my mouth was full of delectably sweet crab meat. Adjacent to Andy's were a bunch of people smoking and drinking beer on the street, all from vending machines. Julia walked briskly past so I wasn't able to get many photos. We opted to walk back to the hotel on the pathway around the Imperial Palace. It was full of runners but otherwise quiet and safe. I heard more crickets than sirens and in spite of being close to 6 lane roads. I like the quiet.
It is Sunday morning here and we're off for another day of adventures.