Now, how did I start my day today? Like this:
Milk coffeeeeeeee! Jay and Graydyn know how happy I am.
Much to my surprise and delight there actually was a coach tour ready for us this morning! Oddly, our hotel checkout time was 8:00 a.m. which made for an irritating delay since our tour bus wasn't scheduled to leave until 9:00. Not a big deal though since I had the good people at Lawson Station to provide me with milk coffee. No morning is truly bad under those circumstances.
It was a nice drive into Tokyo, and the air was so clear that on some points of the highway you could see all the way out to Mt. Fuji. Quite the change from the perma-fog of Zhuhai.
Our first stop this morning was a mall called Diver City. According to the P.A. announcement I heard at one point that's actually pronounced "Diversity."
Diver City in all its glory. Behind it you can make out the Tokyo TV building, which is pretty cool.
Our noble steed.
Diver City is noteworthy as a mall for this:
Few malls these days are guarded by giant robots. Something needs to change.
To my great delight, the Sakura are in bloom!
Just outside the mall I found this hysterically Japanese display. The sidewalk was about 1-2cm above the level I was standing on, and hence needed to be painted bright yellow. These signs were spread along the path to draw your attention to the DEADLY PERIL.
Just to one side of the mall stands The Flame of Liberty. I'm pretty sure that's actually a missile in case the robot out front gets uppity.
We were given a couple of hours to do as we pleased in the mall, which also included time to grab a bit of lunch. After that we boarded the bus and headed for the Imperial Palace. It was pretty cool walking through that area of Tokyo since it was the first place I visited on my trip to Tokyo in 2007. That trip started this whole blog, and inspired the purchase of the little netbook I'm typing on right now. It was much hotter during my July visit, but my good friend Kusunoki Masahige is still here today.
Also, just off camera, the vending machines that provided much need lemonade 8 years ago.
A view of the Imperial Palace... nearly as close as they'll let peasants like me get.
Euphy loved the trees in what I guess is the Emperor's front yard.
The temperatures today are much more moderate, but a stop for ice cream still seemed appropriate.
After dropping by the Imperial Palace for a visit we headed into the Ginza district. This is where I stayed my first few nights in Japan, and it was a lot of fun walking the bustling streets again. We were turned loose for a few hours, and Euphy and I spent almost the first hour of that time walking around Hakuhinkan Toy Park, an enormous 4-level toy store. We really enjoyed it there, and Euphy brilliantly kept me from spending all of our Yen on Star Wars toys. After that we just walked around for a bit, enjoying the scenery.
Had to take a picture of the enormous Ricoh ad with my Pentax camera. For those not aware, Ricoh bought Pentax awhile ago.
We met back up with Annie and Mindy for dinner in what turned out to be the second organizational snafu by our tour guides. While we were given leave to go wherever we wanted for dinner it was suggested that we try a particular restaurant specializing in crab. Annie was quite excited by the prospect, and was devastated when it turned out that they were fully booked. In recommending the restaurant they hadn't bothered to mention that it's incredibly busy and that we'd be lucky to get in. It didn't throw me off at all, but Annie was pumped for some crab, and we never really stood a chance. They would have been much better off just turning us loose to fend for ourselves. All this and more will be in my upcoming text book "Fundamentals of Running a Tour Group."
Fortunately we found a place doing Sukiyaki and Shabu-shabu (two styles of Japanese Hot Pot) and had a phenomenal meal of sukiyaki with both Kobe beef and Wagyu. Couldn't really tell the difference side-by-side. Both awesome.
After dinner we rejoined the group.
The Ginza lights at night.
We're now at our second hotel of the Japanese trip. It's unclear to me at this point (as most things are) how often we'll be changing hotels, but at this point I think it might be daily as we move around the region. We're currently stationed in Yokohama in an incredibly tiny hotel room. I haven't snapped a photo yet, but there's just barely enough room for Euphy and I with our luggage. Oh well, we're just here to sleep.
So I'm going to wrap things up, finish off my Suntory Highball (canned beverage, harsh, may have just carbonated a can of their whiskey) and call it a night. I'm sure most of you are just starting your day back home, so have a good one! I'll check in again tomorrow.