Woke up at 4am. Damned jet lag. Got dressed quietly and went downstairs
to head out the door at 6:30. Lights are off, door is locked, and no clerk.
We waited about 10 mins whispering there, trying to figure how to get
outside. Len found a door on the side that had a standard deadbolt we
could undo. We weren't crazy about leaving the keys just any old place on
the counter, and it was too dark to see if there was somewhere we could
drop them. With some misgivings we tucked them behind a towel that had
been set there and wondered who would end up finding them first, and then
let ourselves out.
We had breakfast at Dennys (just couldn't resist trying it). The menu was
more dinner than breakfast, we think it was due to 7am being still Sat.
night, and all the late nighters just coming home. We did find French
toast, Melissa had a club sandwich and Pat had a curry omelette he quite
enjoyed. We made it to the Crown Plaza Metropolitan hotel with 15 mins to
spare before the Tokyo Morning Tour was to arrive.
There is a Friendly Limo desk in the
entrance, so we were able to make reservations for tomorrows ride to Narita
while we were waiting. They advised that we should go for the 1pm shuttle
and not the 2pm for our 17:50 flight. They were right as it turned out.
The bus picked us up, made a few stops at other hotels to pick up more
people, and then delivered us to the Hamamasutcho Bus Terminal for our
Tokyo Morning Tour. While our guide spoke English, she spoke it very
quickly and with a bit more accent than I could understand in a few spots.
It didn't help her mic was bad. Luckily they had a spare.
The first stop was Tokyo Tower, a landmark usually compared to the Eiffel
Tower in Paris. The Tokyo Tower was built in 1958. There are two
observation platforms, and we started at the higher of the two. The would
have been stunning if the weather had been better but it was great even so.
There are displays along the windows, showing what you're looking at, but
they were all in Japanese, so we had to guess a bit. Our guide was
explaining what much of it was. Then a stop at the lower floor, where they
have clear panels inset, so you can look directly down. A little
disconcerting at first.
The tour then made a 5 min. photo stop at the Imperial Palace Gardens There
we finally got a few pictures that had a feel of old Japan, instead of just
'big city'. From there we went on to the temple at Asakusa.
It was a festival day, so the place was packed like a sardine can. I'm not
certain which festival exactly, as there's the Kanda-Matsuri which happens
on the weekend closest to May 15th in odd numbered years, or the
Sanja-Matsuri which is the 3rd weekend in May. Or maybe it was both.
Groups of people take the shrines out and parade them thru the area. It was
great to see, if I had been able to see it, anyway. It was impossible to go
anywhere very directly, and the 4 of us got separated quickly. They'd taken
the famous lantern down, so we missed that. Once we were able to get to
Nakamise-dori we thought the crowds would thin. Only enough for Len to
catch me, and us to eventually migrate off towards the side. We did find a
cool T-shirt for Matt. About half way down we cut into a side street to
get away from the masses. Pat was able to actually get all the way down to
the temple and take some great pics. Normally the tour can get right up to
it, but as the roads were closed we had to set up meeting points where the
bus could get to us.
There was a bit of a delay contacting the bus to pick us up again, but it was
all settled eventually and away we went to the pearl gallery via Ginza.
Ginza is interesting to see, but all of our guides advised against shopping
there unless you like to burn money.
The Tasaki Pearl gallery ushered us all upstairs to a demonstration room where
they explained the process of producing pearls and how they're graded on
colour,size luster and flaws. We chose numbers and when an oyster was
opened, one lucky number was pulled as the winner of the pearl. The
demonstration finished with a chance to browse the sales floor of all their
expensive goodies before their buses take you back to various places. We
got back to the hotel about 2pm and had time to change for dinner and
confirm we still had the room before heading out again.
A quick trip around the Yamanote line brought us to Akihabara for 90 mins
of window shopping. And some not-window shopping. I tried really hard to
justify getting one of the itty bitty Casio digital Exilim cameras, but as
the Canon S100 really works fine for what we do, I just couldn't do it. I
just loved the colour selection. I could have played there all day.
While we were in the Disney Resort we noticed that the ratio of women to
men was about 3:1. And nearly everywhere else we went we saw the same
thing and wondered where all the guys had gone. Now we know - Akihabara.
Techno-fiend heaven. Electronics, Appliances, Games and Computer stores 6
stories tall and spread for blocks and blocks. There are no great "deals" to
really be had there, but there's a lot of stuff not commonly found here.
All too quickly it was time to get back on track to the Hamamasutcho Bus
Terminal for the
Kabuki Dinner Tour. Our guide this time was really good
and had a wonderfully dry sense of humour and some interesting stories.
Dinner was a restaurant on the waterfront, and our choice of Sashimi,
Sukiyaki or Tempura. On the way into the restaurant we paused on the patio
for a look out at the Rainbow Bridge and the Tokyo Bay.
Dinner was excellent. Melissa and ourselves went for the sashimi and Pat
had the tempura. it was a full meal with appetizer, soup, entree, tea and
dessert. There was even a small glass of plum wine. The appetizer was 3
small dishes served in a basket. One was a green tea sort of custard, one
was a rice and roe, and the third was a spinach something. The entree was
miso soup, an egg custard/soup dish,, a small carrot and seaweed salad,
rice, and 4 types of sashimi, with vanilla ice cream for dessert.
Our guide ushered us back to the bus and explained about Kabuki, in
addition to the flyer he'd given us at the start. We would only be seeing
part of a performance, as a full performance can last 4 or 5 hours. The
has a live native-English speaking commentary you can rent.
It really made a difference to keep track of what all was going on. We saw
the last part of Tsuyu Kosode Mukashi Hachijo(Shinza, the Barber) and the
Kappore dance segment. Shinza the Barber is a more traditional drama about
saving the girl with cunning, and the expected fight at the end and the
The final section was the Kappore, which includes modern references and is
constantly updated. Its more comedy based, and the one we saw featured
baseball players and cheerleaders. Our guide said that women tend to drag
their husbands out for a night at the theatre for special occasions.
There were quite a few women in very formal kimono and obi. The tour
dropped us off at Tokyo Stn. and we took the train back to the Kimi.
Our route walks us right past the Tengu place, so we stopped in for a
nightcap to celebrate our last night in Tokyo with a little sake. It
didn't hurt that it also helps combat the 4am jet lag morning blues.