Japan Day 56-60: Riding Yokohama to Tokyo and Exploring

It was a bit drizzly today, so I stayed in Yokohama at my cousin’s restaurant for a while and waited for the rain to stop. The ride was pretty smooth, the main highway was really spacious and there was a generous bike path for most of the journey. Surprisingly there weren’t many cars on the road, I expected Tokyo to be a hectic city, but it was fairly chilled out, aside from the super bright lights in the shopping districts.

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After I checked into my hostel I met some other girls in the dorm and we headed to Shinjuku to get a view of the city from the observatory in the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building. There was no entry fee and it was cool to see how far the city stretched out, although my camera couldn’t handle the glare from all the lights.

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We didn’t get anything to eat until 11pm and I was a bit grouchy since I hadn’t eaten anything since lunch, aside from some leftover peanuts in my bag. Dinner was pretty disappointing, but I had a few days to pick some better things instead. I was exhausted by the time we got back to the hostel and I slept like a log.

Day 57: Imperial Palace

I headed towards the Chiyoda Ward, right in the middle of Tokyo, to get a photo of Godzilla before heading to the Imperial Palace. I couldn’t help but laugh when I saw the unimpressive statue, but at least they gave him a giant podium so he could still tower over tourists.

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The extensive parks and gardens surrounding the palace were quite amazing, however the buildings are closed to the public. It makes sense because the palace is the Emperor’s primary residence, so it would be odd to have tourists wandering around and taking selfies.

 

I walked around the grounds for a little bit and headed to an Indian place for lunch, it was really delicious and I’m definitely going to miss the giant naan bread here.

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Nearby I found the National Museum of Modern Art, which focused on work from the 20th Century to present. It had a pleasant sitting room where you could see part of the palace moat and the city skyline seamlessly merge together.

 

The rest of the day wasn’t too interesting, I just went to the grocery store and bought some ingredients to make dinner. It’s been ages since I last cooked and it’s definitely an activity that I miss when I’m away too long.

Day 58: Ueno Park and Shibuya

Before going to Ueno Park, I stopped by Ameyoko markets to find lunch and buy some souvenirs for my family. They had loads of stuff for sale, ranging from fresh seafood to clothes and electronics, but my parents just wanted some tea, medicine and interesting chocolates, so my job was easy.

 

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Ueno Park is also massive, it has a zoo, three museums, a concert hall, a giant pond and several temples. Shinobazu Pond was completely covered in lotus plants and there were lots of baby turtles swimming at the edge of the water.

 

Tokyo National Museum had dozens of exhibition rooms, but to make things easier they had a highlights section which covered the most well known aspects of Japanese culture. Recently I’ve been reading Memoirs of a Geisha and it was fascinating to see all the things I pictured in my head.

 

After heading to the post office to send off my souvenirs, I headed to Shibuya to check out the iconic Shibuya Scramble. It’s an intersection with loads of zebra crossings, where people uniformly merge and cross the road without any fuss. The best vantage point is from Starbucks, but it was too crowded for my liking, so I stayed at the overpass from the train station.

 

Nearby there is another famous landmark, a statue for Hachiko the loyal dog who waited at the Shibuya station everyday for his master to return from work. After his owner died, he still came to the station everyday for nine years until he died too. The bronze statue is hard to see at night, but this colourful mural makes up for it.

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Day 59: Tsukiji Market, Hedgehogs and Shinjuku

Tsukiji Market is the biggest fish market in the world and early birds can witness the morning auctions at 5am, although you have to queue up for hours beforehand to be guaranteed a spot. Frankly that’s too early for me, so I took my time and visited the market in time for brunch. There were so many different things to eat, so my appetite and wallet could only afford to try two things; the buttered scallop and a mixed sashimi plate. Any restaurant in the area was bound to have the freshest seafood I’ve ever tried and I was definitely pleased with my meal. Initially I was worried about the darker colored sashimi, which I believe is a more fatty cut of tuna, but it ended up being quite good.

Afterwards I met up with another traveller I met in Fujinomiya two weeks ago, it was his last day in Tokyo before heading home, so we ended up visiting a hedgehog cafe in Roppongi and visiting Shinjuku to find Godzilla and some souvenirs. We walked a lot and my legs were wrecked by the end of the day, mainly because I stayed out late in the last two nights and didn’t stretch my legs before bed time.

For dinner, I tried out a place near my hostel called Sukiya which is a popular 24 hour beef bowl franchise. It was quite good and really cheap too, only 500 yen (~$6) for beef, rice, miso and salad.

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Day 60: Tokyo Skytree, Asakusa and Rainbow Bridge

For my last day I stayed close to my hostel and did some last minute things like sending postcards and trying to find some fancy Japanese whisky for my friend. The weather was so lovely and I opted to walk instead.

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Tokyo Skytree

In Asakusa there’s a lovely temple called Senso-ji Temple, but there’s a massive gauntlet of shops and stalls to walk through. If I wasn’t so tired, I probably would have kept going, but it felt like all my exhaustion from the tour landed when I hit Tokyo.

I stumbled upon the Bag and Luggage Museum on the way back to the hostel and it reminded me of the packing I had to do in the evening. There wasn’t anything special to pack, I just needed to find a big cardboard bike box to get my bike on the plane.

An hour before sunset, I rode my bike to Daiba, to get a view of Rainbow Bridge, where I sat on the shore and ate some ice cream. My time in Japan was coming to an end and soon enough I’d be in another country.

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