May 29 (Day 1): More highlights


Thanks to melatonin, I got some good sleep last night, so I’m attempting to get caught up a little on the blog while Jason gets ready for the day.

Here are some highlights from our first full day in Tokyo:

  • We walked from our airbnb to Shinjuku. We walked along a lovely shady canal, explored a park that had a waterfall and visited the Kumano Shrine.
  • Jason discovered that he loves the beverage vending machines on nearly every corner, and using an app on his  phone to translate Japanese signs.
  • We went the Tokyo Municipal Government building, which has a tourist information center and free observation areas with 360 degree views of Tokyo on the 45 floor. It was a little hazy, but we could still see quite a bit (just, not Mt. Fuji).
  • We walked to Meiji Shrine, one of the most famous of Japan’s many shrines. Out front there was one of the most perfectly shaped trees I’ve ever seen. Tons of people were there, and at some point a wedding processional came through. Based on a suggestion from a colleague of Jason,we bought a seal book. Most shrines have monks who will stamp the book with that shrine’s seal, and write some calligraphy in it. Very cool souvenir for a paper and writing nerd, like myself. (At Kumano Shrine, since we didn’t yet have a book and they didn’t sell any, they gave us a seal on a loose piece of paper that we can glue into the book later!)
  • We went to Harajuku, where we got some food (gyoza and then pastries), went to Kiddy Land (an AMAZING toy store) and then met up with our small photography tour (there were just 4 of us, including our tour guide).
  • The photography tour: This was less of a traditional tour, more like a street photographer taking us to various places in Shinjuku/Harajuku and Shibuya where you are likely to encounter interesting opportunities to photograph people. He was interested in things like the shape of the street, the angle of the light (sunlight,  or, later, artificial light from neon signs), some interesting architectural features, and the types of people that frequent the area. Unfortunately, my camera battery died at the beginning of the tour, but Jason felt a little less comfortable taking photos of strangers anyway, so he let me use his camera. I’ll have to select the best ones and make a photo gallery later.
  • After the our disbanded, we visited Tower Records, which is alive and well in Tokyo. There was a nice cafe where got some drinks, and 5 floors of music, movies, and games. On one floor, J-Pop band was doing a live performance for a couple dozen people.
  • Finally we went to a little sushi place called Genki Sushi, where you order your food on a tablet at your seat and then it comes flying out on a tray on a rail. You only talk to a person when they bring you a drink (or something else that doesn’t travel well by rail), and when you pay.

Fitbit says I walked over 34k steps today, which is almost 15 miles!


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