Category Archives: Tokyo

Edo-Tokyo Museum

Before we left Tokyo to come back home, we decided to stop by the Edo-Tokyo Museum. It’s a pretty cool museum that mostly covers the Edo period from the 17th-19th centuries in Japan. I was surprised by how large the museum was, and also by the quality of the exhibits.

The metro stop for the museum also happens to be in the neighborhood where Sumo is popular:

DSC05799Sumo Cardboard Cut-Out

The museum itself is located in a fairly modern-looking building. There are signs to the museum from the metro stop at Ryogoku Station. It’s pretty close by. The entrance fee to the museum is 600 Yen, or about $6 USD, and you can also get an English audio guide for free (refundable deposit). I really liked this museum, not only because the museum has really cool exhibits, but because it also has interactive ones. They also have a ton of dioramas throughout the museum which give you a complete picture of the Edo Period.

DSC05801Edo-Tokyo Museum

IMG-20120311-01125Kabuki Theater Exhibition- It looks tiny, but is actually a life-size building

IMG-20120311-01130Sitting inside a royal litter- Be sure to take off your shoes!

IMG-20120311-01136Shogun Armor 

IMG-20120311-01144Wood-working Exhibit

IMG-20120311-01151Alex lifting pails of water

IMG-20120311-01163One of the many dioramas depicting the Edo Period in Tokyo

IMG-20120311-01167Inside a traditional Edo replica home

 IMG-20120311-01168Instrument of Surrender from WWII 

IMG-20120311-01174Sitting in a Tuk-Tuk

IMG-20120311-01175Inside a traditional Edo period kitchen

IMG-20120311-01179Exterior of a replica home

Although we didn’t go to many museums while in Tokyo, I would definitely recommend this one. It was a lot of fun, and I think that both children and adults would get a lot out of it!

My Favorite Tokyo Metro Stations (Part 2)

Part 1 of this post talks about two of my favorite stations: Shinjuku and Harajuku. This one discusses two of my other favorites: Shibuya and Akihabara.

Shibuya: Shibuya is known for it busy intersections and limitless shopping opportunities. We visited several malls, which are different from American ones. Rather than entering individual stores within a mall, the stores”” are just set up in one open space. I almost felt like I was in one giant department store. To get some peace and quiet in Shibuya, I loved going into the nearby Starbucks and watching the people cross the streets down below. In the evening, we rented a karaoke room for a few hours.

Of course, one can’t mention Shibuya without sharing the story of Hachiko, the dog. A bronze statue devoted to Hachiko stands outside Shibuya Station. In the 1920s, the dog used to wait at the station for his owner to return from work. One day, his owner passed away and never returned to the station. Hachiko kept waiting for him, and continued to show up to the station at the same time every day until his own death in 1935.

DSC04942Hachiko Statue

DSC04946Alex at Shibuya Crossing

DSC04950Inside One of the Malls

DSC05761More Crepes!

DSC05774View of Shibuya Crossing from Starbucks

DSC05782Karaoke Microphones and Menus

IMG-20120310-01121Light Projections on the Karaoke Room Walls

IMG-20120310-01122Alex Singing Karaoke 

Akihabara: The Electronics District. Great place to buy electronics and appliances. Also known for its many arcades and anime-themed stores.

DSC05307Akihabara Arcade

DSC05308Claw Machine Games

DSC05318Cosplay Restaurant “Maid”

DSC05324Me in the Akihabara District

DSC05325Stores and Arcades

I highly recommend taking some time to explore the metro stops on your own. You may find some great new neighborhoods, and never know what you will come across!

My Favorite Tokyo Metro Stations (Part 1)

Tokyo has a fantastic transit system. It’s orderly, fairly easy to navigate, and always runs on time. One of the best parts of our trip was exploring the city and stopping at random subway stops. Here are some of our favorites:

Shinjuku:  I really liked Shinjuku for a few reasons. First, our hotel was near this station, and I felt really comfortable and safe in the area. Second, Shinjuku is a great place for shopping. You can find so many stores and shopping centers right outside of the station. It’s also home to a nighttime red light district called Kabukicho. Most importantly, however, Shinjuku is a major station in Tokyo. If you want to get around the city, you will more than likely make transfers at Shinjuku and would be wise to get familiar with it!

DSC04834Shinjuku Station

DSC05333Kabukicho District near Shinjuku

DSC05337Kabukicho

DSC04835Shinjuku Shopping Outside the Station

Harajuku: Most Pop music fans are already familiar with this iconic neighborhood, referenced in Gwen Stefani’s “Harajuku Girls”. The neighborhood is famous for it’s kooky fashions. Walking around Harajuku, we did see some crazy styles, but also found some amazing crepe shops, clothing stores, and a Tamagotchi store. In nearby Yoyogi Park, the Meiji Shrine is a must-see.

DSC04839Harajuku Station

DSC04843Typical Clothing Shop in Harajuku

DSC04850Takeshita Dori (A Pedestrian Street)

DSC04856Tamagotchi

DSC04857Fortune Teller at Tamagotchi

DSC04890My Fortune- Can Anyone Translate?!

DSC04858Tamagotchi Donut Shop

DSC04867Alex at one of the Crepe Shops

DSC04921Sake Casks at the Meiji Shrine

DSC04927Traditional Wedding

DSC04932Meiji Shrine

Tokyo DisneySea

I am not embarrassed to say that I am a huge Disney fan. I loved visiting Disney World as a child, and still go to Disneyland on occasion even now. So needless to say, the idea of Tokyo DisneySea was incredibly exciting! We only had one day to see Disney, so we chose to visit DisneySea over Disneyland, since we have one of those back at home.

We took the metro to Maihama Station, where we transferred to the Disney Monorail. The attention to detail is noticeable right away.

DSC05220

DSC05223Mickey Shaped Windows On the Monorail

DSC05226 DSC05228Mickey Handles, and the Cinderella Castle

DSC05237Entrance to Tokyo DisneySea

DSC05238Daisy Duck Greeting Visitors

DSC05241Inside the Gates

DSC05244View of “Mount Prometheus”

Don’t forget to buy yourself a pair of Mickey ears! While you can find all of the Universal “Mickey Ears”, they also have a good collection of hats that are only found in Japan. A lot of the girls’ hats feature giant bows.

DSC05245This hat is so “kawaii”!

DisneySea has a nautical theme to it, with different “Ports of Call”. The layout is very similar to EPCOT, with different themes surrounding a large, central lagoon.

DSC05246Mediterranean Harbor

DSC05272

Arabian Coast

DSC05276

Mermaid Lagoon

DSC05256

The American Waterfront

DisneySea has Tower of Terror, which is a free-fall thrill ride. The ride can be found at several Disney Parks.

DSC05252Tower of Terror

Even though we arrived on a Wednesday around 10AM, the Tower of Terror had already reached a 2 hour wait time. We had been to the Tower of Terror at California Adventure and Hollywood Studios, so we decided we could skip it.

DSC05254Tower of Terror Line

We had never heard of “Duffy” the bear until we got to DisneySea, but he is a huge Disney mascot in Japan. Duffy is really as big of a deal as Mickey Mouse. Duffy and Shellie Mae (his girlfriend) Merchandise can be found all over the park. DisneySea also offers Duffy and Shellie May food. We bought some Cranberry Popcorn that’s served in Shellie Mae buckets. It was so delicious!!

DSC05261Cranberry Popcorn, Yum

The American Waterfront is the Port of Call where you will find Tower of Terror and the SS Columbia, which is a large ship with a restaurant inside.

From the American Waterfront, we made our way over towards the Mysterious Island.

DSC05265Pirate Ship in the Central Lagoon Area

DSC05267View of the Mysterious Island’s Mount Prometheus

The Mysterious Island is home to “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea” and “Journey to the Center of the Earth”

DSC05282

“20,000 Leagues Under the Sea”

Inside the volcano is the ride “Journey To The Center of the Earth”. It’s a roller coaster ride, and by far the most popular attraction we visited that day.

DSC05269

DSC05270Inside the Volcano

I know, you’re wondering how “Journey To The Center of the Earth” was….Well, I’m sorry to say I can’t tell you! The line was 4 hours long…yes, FOUR hours!! I am not one to skip out on things, especially at Disney, but this was excessive. Neither of us was feeling that patient, and for the first time in Tokyo, we actually felt overwhelmed by the crowds. People say that Tokyo is a crowded place, but it feels like nothing compared to DisneySea. I’ve been to Disney World on Christmas Day, and it didn’t feel as busy as this!

Even the concession stands had at LEAST a 30 minute wait time. If you see in the picture below, the food stand is underneath the bridge, and I took the picture from the back of the line. At this point, we made the decision to just walk around and explore the park.

DSC05280Long Lines For Food

DSC05287

Crowds in the Mediterranean Harbor

Ok, enough about the long lines! Just be prepared to wait at least an hour for everything, even the smaller kiddie rides. Now, we did have some luck with food at the Zambini Brothers Ristorante. We were able to find a short food line because there was a show going on in the lagoon. This would be my best piece of advice when visiting DisneySea: grab some food during the showtimes! The food itself was pretty good, and it was nice to just sit down for a bit after walking around!

DSC05291

We left the park after lunch, having been there for a grand total of three hours.On our way out, we spotted Mickey! I noticed that the “main” Disney characters only show up near the entrance to the park, right inside the ticket gate. I’m not sure why this is, but we were able to see Mickey, Daisy, and Goofy in this spot. In case you’re wondering, yes, there was a line to see them too! Haha

DSC05296Mickey Mouse

While we had planned on spending the entire day at Tokyo DisneySea, I’m sad to say that we didn’t want to stay after getting there. I’m really glad we got to see it, but we were not prepared for the lines. I don’t know if I’d personally go back, but it’s still Disney, and if you don’t mind enormous wait times it’s still a cool park. The tricky thing for us is that we are fortunate enough to live semi-close to a Disney Park. Therefore, a lot of the rides and experiences were the same as ones we have back at home and it wasn’t worth waiting in line for hours at a time. But for most people, visiting Disney is a once in a lifetime experience, or at least a pretty rare one. And in that case, a visit to DisneySea would definitely be worth it.

DSC05301Waiting For the Monorail to Take Us Home

Tokyo Day Tour: Asakusa

Asakusa was our last stop on our Tokyo Day Tour. We took a ferry ride from the Port of Tokyo to Asakusa.

DSC05119

DSC05121

DSC05122Our Ferry

DSC05131Going Under the Bridge

DSC05134More Bridges

DSC05144Asahi Brewery Headquarters, Shaped Like a Beer Mug

DSC05145Beautiful Bridge

After a short walk, we arrived at the Asakusa Kannon, or Sensoji, which is a Buddhist Temple. There is a front gate called the Kaminarimon, also known as the “Thunder Gate”. It’s the building with the huge lantern.

DSC05159Kaminarimon

DSC05161Wooden Carving Underneath the Lantern

Inside the gate is the Nakamise Dori, which is a shopping street full of Japanese souvenirs. This was one of the best places for souvenir shopping, and you can find everything from a yukata, to tea sets, to food.

???????????????????????????????Nakamise Dori

At the end of the shopping street, we came upon the Hozomon, which is another gate leading to the temple:

DSC05171Hozomon

DSC05175Pagoda on the left side of the Hozomon gate

DSC05177Nice Bathroom Stalls

DSC05178Vending Machine Full of Hot and Cold Drinks

DSC05181Giant Sandal On the Side of the Hozomon Gate

DSC05183Main Temple

DSC05186Burning Incense

DSC05189View of the Temple From Up Close

DSC05193Prayer Shrine Inside the Temple

While we were at Sensoji, a large group of school girls came running up to us. I’m not sure why, but they were very excited!! A few of them asked to get their pictures taken with us, and it was nice to feel like a celebrity for a few minutes!

DSC05199

Tokyo Day Tour: Imperial Palace

The second half of our day tour began with a delicious teppanyaki lunch. I will cover that later in a post about Japanese food.

After lunch, we headed to the Imperial Palace. It is located in downtown Tokyo, near the Tokyo Station. The Palace grounds are surrounded by a moat. We were not allowed to go inside the Palace itself, and it is closed to the public most of the year.

DSC05086The Moat

You can’t really tell by the picture below, however, the buildings here are only allowed to have views of the Palace up to a certain floor. After that, the windows are blacked out so that there are no views which would allow someone to see inside the Palace grounds.

DSC05090Buildings in Downtown Tokyo

DSC05092Pretty Trees

DSC05097Entrance Gate

DSC05101View of the Palace and Bridge

DSC05104Groundskeepers

DSC05105The Moat

DSC05106Trees Outside the Palace

 

Tokyo Day Tour: Tokyo Tower

Alex and I were in Tokyo for about 6 days of our trip, however, we spent one day doing a group tour that we had found through Viator. It was an all day tour that went to all of the major Tokyo sites. Here’s an overview of our tour:

Our tour bus picked us up at the hotel early in the morning, and stopped at two or three other hotels before taking us to the main terminal where we officially joined our tour. Our group only had about 15 people, so it wasn’t too large.

Our first stop was to visit the Tokyo Tower. It looks like an orange version of the Eiffel Tower, and is actually taller. There is an interior observation deck, so you are able to have a 360 degree view without worrying about wind or rain, which were both concerns on the day we visited.

DSC04968View from our bus

DSC04969Downstairs

DSC04970Ticket Collection

DSC04971Elevator Ride

DSC04973

DSC04974Inside the Observatory

DSC04984View from the Tower

DSC04986Shinto Shrine inside the Observatory

DSC04989Rainy Day Views

DSC04990Alex Inside the Tower

DSC04993Look Out Below!!

DSC04995Glass flooring