Wednesday Write-Up: A Day in Tokyo

We spent two days in Tokyo, Japan. Well, really one day in Tokyo and one day at Tokyo Disneyland (more about that in my Friday post this week). I had no idea what I really wanted to see with our free day, I think maybe I was overwhelmed at the multitude of things to see and do. After talking to Yoshiko, the lady who had rented us the lovely Umejima Red Ninja House for our short trip, we decided to check out the Shibuya area.

Shibuya is a busy shopping district, popular with the stylish younger generation (I think I still classify as the stylish younger generation…right?!).  It is also famous for the Shibuya Crossing, a busy intersection where at any given moment one can see hundreds of people crossing every which way because the light turns red for every lane of traffic every so often to allow all the many pedestrians to cross quickly.

So we had decided to go to Shibuya, now how to get there? We walked quickly to the Umejima train station (on the sky tree line) from our apartment  and proceeded to look at all the maps as though they were in a foreign language… oh yeah, they were in completely in Japanese, no wonder. When we asked for help from the station master, he was barely able to understand or speak to us (not saying that is a bad thing, just a little stumbling block).  He was finally able to figure out what stop we wanted despite our complete lack of Japanese verbal skills. We paid for our 350 Yen tickets and then used Google Maps the rest of the way to figure out our transfers and such.

(Just a side note here…I used Google Maps and Google Translate our whole trip… If you are going to Japan… I would suggest these as true lifesavers. )

We arrived at Shibuya station (on the Ginza line) and walked out of exit 4, not because we had any reason to, but just because it seemed to have the least amount of traffic. It turned out to be the one that was almost next door to the Shibuya Crossing, which was in my humble opinion a bit anti-climatic. It is simply a large intersection with many people crossing. Not sure why this is so exciting…

I was getting hungry… which was no surprise to any of us three. I am on a strict eat-all-day-every-day diet. And for this trip, what I wanted was sushi. This was another time where planning could have helped us. We didn’t realize that most of the sushi places in the Shibuya district (maybe all of Tokyo?) were either take-out only or had standing areas (no seats). Not such a great idea with a toddler. So we searched for a while.

 Chad got some french fries to tide him and Z over, but I was not giving up... I was going to eat sushi in Tokyo!
Chad got some french fries to tide him and Z over, but I was not giving up… I was going to eat sushi in Tokyo!

Finally we happened upon a fast food sushi restaurant called Uobei Shibuya Dogenzaka which was quite cool. We all enjoyed it!

Pick your sushi out on the LCD screen and it is sent via robot directly to your table! What fun!
Pick your sushi out on the LCD screen and it is sent via robot directly to your table! What fun!
Chowing down on some corn and mayo "sushi"
Chowing down on some corn and mayo “sushi.”

I felt like I was a new person after my sushi fix and was ready to walk around and check things out. A friend of Chad’s that had been living in Tokyo for many years suggested that we check out the Meji Shrine which was within walking distance from the shopping area.

On our way to the shrine, we happened upon an Earth Day festival that was packed with people and cool booths. Chad and I regretted eating out so soon because the booths serving vegetarian and vegan Japanese food (even organic beer!) looked and smelled divine. Oh well, maybe next year…

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The food booths were mobbed!
The Earth Day Tokyo food booths were mobbed!

As we pushed moved our way through the crowds, we finally made it to the other end of the festival and were impressed with the substantial Yoyogi Park that surrounded the Meji shrine.  It was pristine in its cleanliness and planning. It was busy, but didn’t feel crowded as the paths were wide and smooth.  We stopped and watched some Japanese “Greasers’ dancing to rock-a-billy music for a bit and then headed onto the shrine.

Their hair was truly amazing! Such height I have never seen!
These “Greasers” hair was truly amazing! Such height I have never seen!

The Meji Shrine is a Shinto shrine that is dedicated to the deified spirits of Emperor Meiji and his wife, Empress Shōken. The pathway to the shrine is wide and covered with tiny pebbles, which can make a stroller difficult sometimes, but easily walked. We walked through many Torii (large wooden Japanese gates) until we finally arrived at the actual shrine.

The grounds were gardened simply and the shrine itself was rather plain, without any opulence or gold that one may see in other Asian cultures’ shrines. It was stark and quiet. We walked to the shrine and Chad and Zoë dropped in some yen coins, clapped twice, and bowed for good luck (more just for the experience obviously).

One of the torii.
One of the torii.
The Meji Shrine
The Meji Shrine.
A wedding procession in the center of the shrine courtyard. Everyone hushed and got out their camera's, such a interesting sight.
A wedding procession in the center of the shrine courtyard. Everyone hushed and got out their cameras, such an interesting sight.

At this point we decided to get a beer with Chad’s friend who had been so helpful at telling us what to see in Shibuya. And as they say, “The rest is history.” Ok well, maybe I should say, “The rest is walking around for a couple of hours looking for another sushi restaurant, finally finding one, eating, and going back to the apartment.” That just sounds so drawn out though, don’t you think?

Have you ever been to Tokyo? What about the Shibuya district? Where did you find the good sushi restaurants (seriously, please help me, we have a return trip through Tokyo in two weeks)?

 

  22 comments for “Wednesday Write-Up: A Day in Tokyo

  1. joylovestravel
    April 30, 2014 at 12:34 pm

    Love that sushi robot waiter!

  2. The Vanilla Housewife
    April 30, 2014 at 2:08 pm

    I have a friend who lives in Tokyo. I’ll ask her for you!

    • andthreetogo
      April 30, 2014 at 8:07 pm

      Please do!

      • The Vanilla Housewife
        May 5, 2014 at 8:12 am

        I asked my friend and she said Genki Sushi in Shibuya. 🙂

  3. bakeritalia
    April 30, 2014 at 2:59 pm

    Looks like it would be hard not to enjoy it! robot waiters…very cool

    • andthreetogo
      April 30, 2014 at 8:07 pm

      I cannot wait to go back and explore more!

  4. thehomeschoolingdoctor
    April 30, 2014 at 9:42 pm

    Oh. Yum. Interesting post. Hope you get some feedback on good sushi restaurants! Wanted to let you know I had pork belly at that restaurant in Charleston. It was wonderfully prepared and served over pureed parsnips and alongside soft shell crab sautéed in olive oil. Delicious! And then we got our own fresh seafood at a local shop and shucked our own oysters and made some more soft shell crabs. It was a great culinary week for me. (Greek, Thai, Indian, and fresh seafood. My version of travel. 🙂 )

    • andthreetogo
      April 30, 2014 at 10:05 pm

      Oh my goodness, that sounds like heaven! I am so glad you got to travel the world through food (my favorite way sometimes!). 🙂

  5. Much to be thankful for!
    May 1, 2014 at 4:49 am

    I too was intrigued by the “robot” Sushi! I say a video is in order (no pun intended! :). ) the next time you go so that we can see how it works from choosing, to ordering, to serving of your meal.

    I am indeed a trivia junkie but I always like to hear what the local currency looks like (mostly paper, coin, or a combo?) as well as what the exchange rate is. Of course I CAN look it up myself but it seems more exciting when coming from your blog; more pertinent to the telling of the story I guess!)

    The intersection that is so famous intrigues me; I wonder if it is more dramatic at night or some significance as to “where all roads converge” or such? Perhaps we just expect to much on our entertainment world!

    Always love the posts” keep them coming. (I personally like the longer ones with several pictures as well! Just my vote! ). 🙂

    • andthreetogo
      May 1, 2014 at 5:19 am

      Good ideas on the currency and video! I will remember that for next trip for sure! I will try to include more pics and longer descriptions.
      As far as the crossing, I think it must be a night time thing, but really it’s just a bunch of people crossing the street 🙂

  6. Bronwyn Joy @ Journeys Of The Fabulist
    May 1, 2014 at 12:57 pm

    Oh, you’re stopping on the return, too! Hurrah!

    Um, we didn’t eat sushi in Tokyo, apart from takeaways, so no help there. Are you staying in the same apartment? If so that’s nice and everything but if not it does give you one extra host to advise you. I’d be inclined to go back for robot sushi (I’m actually kicking myself for missing that one).

    The Earth Day Tokyo festival sounds good. I’ve heard it’s difficult to get vegetarian and vegan food in Japan – although at the same time they don’t eat that much meat per head vs vegetables/etc.

    • andthreetogo
      May 1, 2014 at 10:18 pm

      We were going to stay in the same place but dropped the ball and now are trying to find something similar. So the extra host is a positive thing. 🙂
      I would have loved to have tried the vegan/vegetarian food, like I said it smelled divine. I think I need multiple stomachs (cows have it made!). 🙂

  7. Christy @ kidsrsimple.com
    May 1, 2014 at 3:02 pm

    I haven’t been to Tokyo but been to Osaka and Kyoto. I simply love the sushi and ramen there. Did you try the ramen?

    • andthreetogo
      May 1, 2014 at 10:18 pm

      I didn’t even get a chance to try the ramen! That’s for the next leg of our trip… What kind would you recommend? Is there a certain flavor/kind that’s the best?

  8. 5sOnTheFly
    May 1, 2014 at 11:03 pm

    All the talk of Japanese cuisine is making our stomachs rumble; going out to a Japanese restaurant in Five of Hearts’s favorite. There is a Japanese restaurant here in Vegas that has a dedicated vegan / vegetarian menu, and I have a feeling we will be making a stop there before we leave 🙂

    • andthreetogo
      May 2, 2014 at 5:26 am

      Oh yummy! What is the name of it so I can try it next time I am there?

  9. freebutfun
    May 4, 2014 at 10:12 am

    Robot waiters…exactly what I expect from Tokyo 🙂

    • andthreetogo
      May 4, 2014 at 7:18 pm

      Right!?

  10. thebritishberliner
    May 5, 2014 at 8:12 am

    That fast food sushi restaurant is so cool. I took a look at it’s website. Oh yeah. Right. All Japanese. Completely. I forgot that part!
    I haven’t been to Japan I’m afraid but I love what you have written and now I’m hungry. I’ll just grab some lame toast shall I, while I read about wonderful exotic fare!

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