Over the long holiday weekend, Chuck and I took our first trip to the mainland together. I had been to Osaka and Hiroshima before, but together, we haven’t actually explored Japan outside of Okinawa. We had a great time in one of the world’s biggest cities, and the only disappointment was that we had to cancel our planned hike up Mt. Fuji due to more extreme weather than anticipated. We weren’t quite equipped to hike for 6 hours in snow and sleet… So, we will try again next summer!
The flip side to the Mt. Fuji debacle was more time to experience Tokyo. We arrived on Friday afternoon, and after quickly freshening up and studying the public transit system, we ventured over to Ginza, the high-end shopping district (I was good!)
Much to Chuck’s delight (not), I had made a reservation for dinner at the Alice in Wonderland themed cafe. We visited a classy whiskey bar first, as I figured a drink might help open Chuck’s mind to Wonderland 🙂 I had prepared myself for mediocre food and a somewhat cheesy experience, so my expectations were low – but I was still determined to have fun with it because Alice is one of my favorites.
After dinner, we met with an old friend of mine from college. He gave us a taste of the local nightlife in the lively Shibuya district. Despite our exhaustion from traveling/exploring all day, we had a great time!
Saturday was rainy, but we spent the day wandering Shinjuku Gardens (which was pretty, but disappointingly lacking in the flower department), Meiji Jingu (Shinto shrine), and the eccentrically stylish Harajuku district.
What struck us the most? The fact that literally EVERYONE had umbrellas out and open for the tiniest drizzle… And the fact that every place we visited had umbrella lockers in which to store them. Seriously, I have never seen so many umbrellas in my life!
We spent Saturday evening in a very classy manner, with a delicious dinner at the trendy Arata restaurant in Roppongi Hills (recommended by my W&M friend) and a tour of Mori Tower’s modern art exhibit!
Sunday, we ventured to the old-timey Asakusa district and visited Senso-ji Temple (Buddhist.) We then opted for an art museum, and as it turned out, the Museum of Western Art got the best reviews. Is it bad that we saw Western art while visiting Tokyo? It was a great exhibit, with a special display from the Bordeaux region of France. All the description plaques were in Japanese or French, so I got to practice my French skills and translate for Chuck 🙂
On our last evening, we met up with some Okinawa friends who also happened to be in Tokyo. We went to a traditional, izakaya-style restaurant and experienced some pretty legit cuisine. We then hit up a few Roppongi Hills bars and a dance club, which ended up being a tad more red-light than anticipated… Still, we had a great time!
Now we just need to go back to climb that freakin’ mountain! Fuji, we’re coming for you…