Tuesday, May 1, 2012

the amazing race, wind-swept umbrellas, kebabs, and the search for wonderland

Our last day in Tokyo was a wet one. Having diligently watched the weather reports for our weekend, we were expecting this and planned as many indoor activities as we could for the afternoon. The morning was bright and beautiful, though, and we started it out Amazing Race style.

Since the night bus back to Misawa left at 9 pm, we knew we'd have a huge amount of time to hang out in Tokyo prior to leaving. We did, however, want to make sure we knew exactly where to go since the terminal was not at Shinjuku Station. We had some rudimentary directions in Japlish on how to get to the terminal, and the three of us were having quite the time trying to figure out the best way to get there (especially since we'd have all of our luggage when going to catch the bus later that night.)

We finally decided to go about it Amazing Race style and each go our own ways. Ben chose the underground and walked through a several-kilometer-long cobblestone tunnel that runs underneath Shinjuku. I took to the streets and navigated through the Shinjuku district above ground (of course, this was right around the time it decided to start raining). Devon braved the subway system and had to find her way to the platform inside Shinjuku Station.

We all arrived within 10 minutes of each other, with Ben in the lead. So with our plans set in place for that evening, we were free to spend the rest of the day exploring more of Tokyo.

 Ben's photo after arriving at the terminal.

 Devon's adventure through the subway system.

My view as I reached our destination.

We jumped back on the subway and headed back to Roppongi. We had seen it at night but wanted to go up into the Mori Building to see the amazing view of Tokyo. As we arrived in Roppongi, we realized we hadn't eaten since our Starbucks early in the morning. We stopped at a hole-in-the-wall kebab place and had the best 500 yen meal we've had since arriving in Japan. After we finished, we walked back to the spider and tried to take a few pictures. I say "tried," because the wind and rain picked up so heavily that we had to seek cover almost immediately. I did get the camera out just in time to capture Devon's umbrella finally yielding to the wind. Needless to say, she wasn't too happy that her umbrella only made it through the morning.

We found the entrance to the Mori Building and rode the elevator up 51 floors to the observation deck. From there, we had a panoramic view of the entire city. Being the most populated city in the world, you can imagine there was quite a bit to see. The city looked beautiful in the rain and we spent quite a bit of time just watching. We eventually left the observation deck and took a tour through the most current exhibit in the Mori Art Museum.

The evening was supposed to be the best part - the thing I wanted to do the most in Japan was to eat at one of Tokyo's three Alice in Wonderland themed restaurants. We had read about them pretty soon after moving here, and I couldn't wait to dine among the huge daffodils and card shaped tables. It took a bit of navigating to find the restaurant, which ended up being below the basement of a huge building not too far from one of Shinjuku Station's 200 exits. Though I had called ahead and was told they didn't take reservations, we were turned away because we didn't have one. They did, however, let me walk through and take some photos before we left. I was incredibly upset until Ben found directions to its sister restaurant, which was also Alice themed. That restaurant, too, was packed and was only available with reservations.

At the end of our ropes, we finally settled for a small restaurant that served shabu shabu. This is a Korean meal that consists of boiled vegetables and meat cooked at your table. It was similar to yakiniku, except everything was soft and moist instead of grilled. The meal turned out to be a great experience despite our earlier disappointment. We'll just have to try Alice again next time we're in Tokyo!

After dinner we headed back to Shinjuku, picked up our baggage, and navigated our way to the bus terminal using Ben's underground route from the morning. We caught the bus and did our best to sleep on the way back up to Misawa. When we arrived, we immediately realized we were home because of the snow on the ground.

Though we had an amazing trip, it was good to be home! We can't wait to plan out our next trip to the biggest city in the world!

No comments: