Tuesday, September 2, 2014

A Backwards Post

I've gotten behind in blog posting so I'm going to work backwards in an attempt to remember all the most important stuff about our trip so far.

Yesterday (Day 4)
Yesterday it was Monday, a day when almost all the museums are closed.  Unfortunately for us, it also poured almost all day, so that didn't leave us with a lot of options.  We started off by heading to Omotesando, where there is an Aldebaran Atelier in the Softbank store.  One of my friends works for Aldebaran which is how I found out about it; we wanted to see the cool robots (Pepper and Nao) in person.

Here's a video of Nao showing us how he can stand up all by himself!

After visiting Nao and strolling up and down Omotesando Dori, we headed to Akihabara for any Tokyo visitor's obligatory visit to Electric Town.  We went to Don Quixote so James could see the discount store and all the amusing items it carries:
We also visited Yellow Submarine and looked at all the board games they carried, and went to a neat artist/boutique collective set in a converted heritage railway station:

I remembered Akihabara as not being particularly interesting.  On this visit we noticed the proliferation of Maid CafĂ© signs (these are cafes where the waitresses dress in maid outfits) and ads with anime-style female characters in various states of dress (or undress, as the case may be).  What's disappointing is that this area is a huge tourist draw and it seems this is at least partially targeted at a foreign demographic.

After visiting Akihabara we headed to Ueno for a super delicious lunch at Ume no Hana.  I discovered this tofu-centric restaurant chain in 2010 while visiting Kyushu and really loved it, so had to go again this trip. 

Here are some of the delicious items we tried:
I couldn't wait to take a picture! ^_^ Oishiiiii.

Chawan mushi and tofu salad with Satsuma!

Crab + tofu ball in broth!

Deep fried manju and ebi with lemon and salt.  I loved the lemon squeezer, want one!
Tofu + shrimp shumai with ponzu sauce.

Miso soup, assorted vegetables and pickles, rice with mushrooms.  Delicious green tea.

Delicious dessert!  There's mocha, almond ice cream, candied almonds, different kinds of fruits (mango).  Accompanied by hoji-cha.

James enjoying dessert.

Ototoi (Day 3)
On Sunday we were scheduled to meet my friends the Watanabes and their family for lunch.  We met originally in 2005 when my dad was visiting me.  We had taken the train all the way from Futako Shinchi station in Kawasaki to Kasama, a small town renowned for its pottery in Ibaraki prefecture.  Along the way these two people were sitting across from us, even after we transferred trains.  When we got to the station I was trying to get directions at the Tourist Information Office when they approached us and asked if we'd like to share a taxi to the local shrine.  Well, we did so and since then we have visited their home in Yokohama and they have visited ours in Vancouver. 

On this visit, we had a delicious Cantonese multi-course lunch at Heichin Low restaurant in Aobadai.  It was neat to travel along the Den en Toshi line again, which is how I used to commute to and from work each day when I was an English teacher.

After lunch we visited Shinjuku Gyooen park.  Unfortunately I later found out someone with Dengue Fever visited some Tokyo parks and was bitten by mosquitos, and now they are trying to spray to kill them all so they don't spread it.  I was eaten alive at the park but hopefully they got the infected mosquitos before our visit!  I guess we'll know in the next week or so...

After the park, we headed to Ebisu for the excellent Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography.  The main exhibit right now is the work of Akihiko Okamura who covered the Vietnam War, along with other conflicts around the world.  It was very interesting to see coverage of the war from the Japanese perspective, and the photographs were stunning.  I highly recommend a visit.

We finished off the day with a visit to the Yebisu Beer restaurant (not much of a museum) and some yummy stout.  We also took a look from the top of the Ebisu Garden Place tower for a nice view of Tokyo.

I'll split the other day into a separate post for brevity!  Stay tuned...

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