As expected, the jet lag hit us pretty hard, so we didn't sleep the best the first night. We were up early and our plan was to go first thing to the Tokyo Skytree because we had read that if you aren't there early the lines get really long. We walked from our hotel to Shinjuku station and tried to find the correct subway line for where we needed to go. The station was packed as it was the beginning of rush hour. We didn't need to buy tickets as we had the prepaid Suica cards we purchased the day before. Thankfully, the station is very well signed in English and we had no problem making it to our subway train. A train quickly showed up and we stuffed ourselves onto it with a ton of other people. We had one transfer to make and by the time we got to that station, the train had emptied enough to make it easy to exit and do our transfer. The next train wasn't very crowded either, so it was easy to get on and off.

The Skytree opens at 8:00 and we got there a little after 8:15. We went inside to buy tickets and found absolutely no line. That was great news, so we bought our expensive tickets (2000 per adult, 900 per child) to get to the 350m high platform. If you want to go all the way to the top, you can buy tickets at the 350m platform to go up to the 450m platform. We didn't think it would be worth the extra money as the view was incredible at "only" 350m. We walked around for a while and marveled at the amazing view of Tokyo spread out in all directions.



Tokyo views in every direction

There's even a spot in the floor made of glass that you can stand on and look straight down. This spot is NOT for people afraid of heights. Tyler wouldn't walk on it, and I could barely take a step onto it. Erin, of course, wasn't bothered at all. I did manage to get close enough to snap a couple of pictures.

Glass floor at 350m

We walked around the top, there's lots of windows to see the views as well as a cafe and gift shop.  We took the super fast elevator back down to ground level and stopped outside to take some pictures.  You really can't get a good picture from the base as it is simply too tall.

Tokyo Skytree

We stopped off at a convenience store to grab some Japanese snacks and immediately saw some interesting flavors of some normal American products, Pringles and Kit Kat.  We grabbed some ketchup flavored Pringles and some Green Tea Kit Kats as well as some other snacks and started making our way to Ryogoku for the Edo-Tokyo Museum.  I was able to snap a better picture of the Skytree when we got a little further away from it.  From here you can see the antennas that are used for the broadcasts for which the Skytree was built.  The Skytree is the world's tallest broadcast tower, but not even close to the world's tallest building (the Burj-Al Khalifa).

Better view of the Skytree Broadcast Tower

We took the subway back to Ryogoku and quickly found the Edo-Tokyo Museum.  It is a very large building that is mostly on "stilts".  We bought tickets (600 per adult, 0 per child) and went up the giant red escalator.  Tyler thought that was pretty cool.

About to enter the Edo-Tokyo Museum

The Edo-Tokyo Museum focuses on the history of Tokyo mainly from before it became the capital of Japan.  Before it was renamed to Tokyo, it was a much smaller city called Edo.  There are many exhibits which show what the buildings were like in the Edo period as well as displays about daily life.


Edo-Tokyo Exhibits

There are some amazing scale models in Japan and the Edo-Tokyo Museum was the first of our experiences with them in Japan.  The detail is just incredible.

Scale models of Edo era buildings

They also had some more interactive displays which Tyler got to try out.



Tyler having fun with the exhibits

Once we finished up and went back outside, I was able to get some shots of the cool building that houses the museum.  We each had our own interpretation as to what it looked like, but I believe it is modeled after an old Japanese style elevated warehouse.  It is definitely not something you'll see everyday.

Edo-Tokyo Museum building

After our museum visit, it was time for lunch.  This was something we were pretty nervous about before we left for Japan.  How do we find places to eat and order food that we'll all like?  We started walking around near the train station and found a place called Tenya that I had read about.  I knew that it served Tempura fried food on top of rice bowls.  That seemed like an easy start to Japanese food, so we stopped in and all ordered bowls with various amounts of shrimp, fish, squid (none for Erin), and vegetables.  The food was delivered hot and fast and we all enjoyed it quite a bit. 

After lunch, we headed over to Asakusa station and began our trip towards Senso-ji temple.  From here, you could occasionally catch a great glimpse of the Skytree between narrow streets.

Skytree from near Asakusa station

We knew basically where we were heading and pretty quickly found the large gate that is at the start of the street heading to Senso-ji temple.  The street is lined with all kinds of traditional shops selling many types of food and souvenirs.  We also had a fun exchange with some Japanese students that were on an assignment to practice their English.  They asked us some questions about us including where we were from.  It was pretty funny, because they were pretty hard to understand in English and the questions they asked were all things we had learned in our Japanese lessons, so the whole thing may have been easier in Japanese :)


Street leading to Senso-ji Temple

We took a side street and headed West.  I knew that was the general direction of Kappa-bashi Dori which is a street that is filled with all kinds of shops selling cooking and restaurant supplies.  We went a couple of blocks to the west and the street was becoming more residential.  I was getting worried, but was able to ask (barely) a nice Japanese man if we were headed in the right direction (directions were pretty well covered in our Japanese lessons).  He assured us we just needed to keep going some indeterminate amount of streets, so we continued on for a couple more blocks and found it.  There's a really large store at one end of the street which has a giant chef's head on it.

Giant Chef

We wandered up and down the street and Erin looked at a bunch of stuff while Tyler and I tried to not knock anything off the crowded shelves.  It was interesting, but not worth a stop unless you're really into cooking, or really want to spend a lot of money for some excellent plastic food replicas.  The replicas are used outside lots of restaurants in Japan to show what kind of food you can get there.  They are super detailed, but also really expensive (~$100) for most pieces.

Next, we went back to the street leading to Senso-ji temple and went to the temple.  The temple is really large and ornate and it seems strange just sitting in the middle of a busy Tokyo neighborhood.  It was pretty busy, so we just walked around and took a few pictures.


Senso-ji Temple

The detail in the buildings was impressive.  There are several different buildings including the main temple and a 5 story pagoda.  It was really cool and a great contrast to the Skytree and ultra modern Tokyo architecture earlier in the day.


5 Story Pagoda

By this point in the day, we were getting pretty worn out, so we headed back to Shinjuku and our hotel.  We rested for a little bit then headed back out to find dinner.  We walked around for a little bit, then got nervous about trying some more interesting Japanese places and ended up at a Saizeriya.  Saizeriya is kind of like a Japanese version of Olive Garden, but with a little more cafeteria style dining thrown in.  It was quick and filled us up which was all we needed.  We walked back to our hotel and I was able to snap a few pictures of the view from our room before we all crashed from exhaustion.


Tokyo at night from our hotel room

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