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
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.
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.
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.
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
Tokyo at night from our hotel room
Continue to Day 2
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