My return to Tokyo coincided with the second day of Amy's visit to Japan. She was diligent enough to keep a bullet list of her stay and hooked me up with it so writing this entry should be relatively quick. Or will it?
Our first stop was to the Northeast to visit Asakusa where Tokyo's nearest temple, Sensoji, is located. My initial thought was that it wouldn't be too exciting since I just returned from the city of temples but having Amy around to explain some of what was going on turned out to be enlightening. We did the whole burning incense in the fire pit and inhaling the dust, washed and drank holy water from the water trough and even drew the fortune sticks. Kevin and Amy ended up getting the same ominous fortunes which they quickly attached to the pole to be whisked away by the wind. The positive fortune I drew still occupies prime real-estate in my wallet.
"Lions, Tigers, and Bears, oh my!" (the title was Amy's suggestion)
Working our way back towards central Tokyo, our next stop was Ueno where the zoo and a number of museums are located. The best part of this stop had to be the 20 Hello Kitty and Ding Dong egg cakes for ¥500. A close second were the two large white dogs we stumbled onto on the main path running through the park. Our main reason for going to Ueno Park was the Ueno Zoo for their Pandas which was really disappointing. The poor Panda didn't occupy any nicely designed habitat mimicking their natural environment. Instead it was kept in a concrete room with a single metal water bowl, pretty depressing. The lions and tigers enjoyed better accommodations and it was entertaining watching them play. Just like housecats, except much larger and they can kill you.
After the zoo closed down for the day, we made our way to Ameya Yokocho right by Ueno Station. There, we took a break at one of the many cafes tucked in between clothing stores and shoe shops before presenting ourselves to Kevin's heartbreaker, a girl by the name of Mari Matsushita who works at Murasaki Sports. For those who know Kev, ever see him pining over a girl? Doesn't happen often and it was fun for Amy and me to see him squirm and be all lovesick over this snowboarder / retail rep. She did hook me up with a snowboard product catalog (after she stated that she couldn't sell it to us) at no cost though so she's definitely on my good side. We were all analyzing his situation over a dinner consisting of soba and unagidon right around the corner from the sports store, I forgot what was discussed perhaps Kevin or Amy can shed some light on this.
Back in Roppongi, before turning in for the night we stopped by Don Quijote for some groceries and miscellaneous items (such as the Doraemon and Stitch pajama costumes). There's also a crepes cafe right outside open only during the night so we had ourselves a late-night snack. For those not in the know, Don Quijote is an amazing retail store with many locations throughout Japan. It's open 24 hours a day and sells everything from basic groceries to luxury goods. Their toys section is a must see for tourists and it was there that we came across the funky pajama costumes. Of note at the Roppongi location is a half-pipe roller coaster which lies dormant. Though finished over two years ago, it was never put into operation due to opposition from local residents and businesses.