Until December 3rd!

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Mike and I woke to another sunny day in Tokyo, and since this would be our last morning together, we decided to revel over our free, luxurious breakfast. It was a buffet style, but it was an elegant affair with white tablecloths, croissants, French-press coffee, and fresh fruits piled on silver platters.  There was also a menu with eggs and meats to choose from.

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Finished with breakfast, we checked out of our room, and checked our bags with the front desk so we could do a bit more sight seeing before my husband left on the Narita Express at 2:00 pm.

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We headed for Ginza and took a left toward the Tsukiji district, home of the Jiro Dreams of Sushi fish market and auction, where they auction off the giant blue fins and every other kind of seafood known to man. We found a myriad of shops and a tangle of alleys that connected them all, and thus began our stroll.  We saw so many things to eat, to drink, and to give as gifts.

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Two older men at different stalls really liked Mike, so we stopped to chat.  I suspect they wanted to show off their English, which was quite good. One sold a rice topping made from spices, dried fish, kelp, and sesame seeds.  It was delicious.  He asked Mike were he was from. When he said Seattle, the man replied, “Oh Seattle, too bad Ichiro is now in New York!”  Mike tried to engage in conversation, but the guy had exhausted his English and bid us ado! :)

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Another man further down the alley, handed Mike a cup of green tea.  Mike loves green tea as much as he loves bamboo forests, so we both stood near the tea stall and drank some very delicious green tea made from the traditional powder used in tea ceremonies.  Mike had to buy some, and this gentleman, who didn’t have as much English as the first gentleman, made it clear that he was so proud we were buying his tea, and he and his staff of five wished us good health and a long and happy marriage, as we left with our purchase.

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We passed many stalls in this open air market where we passed many things I couldn’t identify, which added to the exotic allure. We were too late for the fish market proper though because we’d dallied over breakfast.  The market auctions begin at 6 am and go until 8 am or so.  The public is not allowed in at that time, but at 9 am the public can wander the stalls until they close.  Mike and I made it around 10:30 or so, and most of the stalls were closed.  The little street shops were so much fun, though, that we didn’t mind.

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After our adventure there, we walked out to the Sumida Gawa and took some photos.  Mike kept complaining that my camera was not working, but as I edited the batch, I realized what he was doing.  He wasn’t focusing on me. He was focusing on the buildings behind me!  I don’t mind too much because I don’t have a wrinkle or an age spot.

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We headed back to the hotel, after another stroll through Ginza.  They close Ginza Dori to traffic and make it a “pedestrian only” street, so when we’d gotten at the north end, closest to Tokyo station, they announced that cars were to exit to other streets, put up barriers, and workers appeared from every shop and doorway with chairs and tables to set up in the street.  I was hoping Mike would get to see this phenomenon, and he did.  We went to our hotel very satisfied with our morning.

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Kabukiza Theater–Ginza District, Tokyo

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We picked up our bags at the Marunouchi Hotel, and headed back to the station, where we began the search for a lunch spot big enough for our luggage as well as us, the hungry ones.  Oh, oh, yes.  Mike was hungry.  We did find a huge place in an out of the way corner with lots of seating and space.  We both ordered coffees and ate a light lunch before I walked Mike to the Narita Express gate.  Sigh.

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We had a perfect week, and it was hard to say goodbye, but we managed.  He went east, and I boarded the Yamanote line and headed west. But even as I post this, we only have a couple more days in Japan, so I’ll be home with all the memories of a wonderful “break week” in Japan!

Last Night in Tokyo

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When I planned this trip, I decided to try three different priced hotels.  The first two nights stay at a Japanese business hotel was $66. a night.  The three nights in Kyoto at a mid-priced western-style hotel were $150. a night, and our last night in Tokyo at a four-star western-style hotel was $300.  We couldn’t afford a five-star hotel, and we booked our rooms through Agoda online booking, so we got deals!

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Needless to say, when we got to Tokyo from Kyoto, we knew our way around Tokyo Station. We headed straight to our hotel, and checked our luggage.  Classical music played in the background. The staff were not only polite and attentive, they were super-model beautiful and dressed better than I was.

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We headed out for a bit to eat, but it was only 10:30, so we strolled around the station on the Imperial Palace side, checking out the restaurants that are tucked in under the tracks.  They really utilize space in Japan! We found a place that I thought had yakitori, chicken grilled on a skewer, but it turned out to be a set-lunch place for the working men of downtown Tokyo.

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We walked in and got the look.  Uh oh.  America-jin des! And no one spoke English.  With my skoshi Nihon go (Japanese), we ordered our food, and the waiter brought us water.  As we waited two policemen walked in and ordered food, and then two men in overalls strolled in and ordered.  Several other men arrived and ordered, as Mike and I received our set-lunches.  They were huge!  Mike said, “I think we ordered dinner.” Then the waitress walked by with two trays for the police officers that were two and half times bigger than our lunches!

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We scarfed down our food, and paid at the cash register, and when the transaction was complete, we got the royal arigato gozaimasu treatment from the entire staff as we walked out to the street.  I had a happy husband, so we decided to stroll down to the Imperial Palace where they had a national museum of some sort, and found that it is closed every Friday.

11.8.13 Tokyo last night-6So we strolled down to the opposite corner from our Monday trip to the Palace, where Mike found a sign pointing to the Museum of Modern Art Tokyo or MOMAT.

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We headed in that direction, as I shot photos every other foot of the way.  We bought tickets to all three exhibits, or the whole shebang, as they say.  We spent the better part of four hours working off our working-man’s lunch in the MOMAT.  We saw a black and white photography exhibit that was fabulous—Joseph Koudelka. Then we saw MOMAT’s “The Best of” collection that took up four floors.  Then we saw a special display of “Made in Japan” functional art by designers whose work could be sat upon, drank from, eaten off of, or walked on.  It was amazing.

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11.8.13 Tokyo last night-4 It was almost 3:00 pm by this time, so we headed to our hotel to check in. Our room on the fourteenth floor of the Marounochi Hotel was right across the street from Tokyo Station, looked right over the station, and south to Ginza as well as Ueno to the north. I sat and watched Shinkansen after Shinkansen arrive and depart like the movements of a watch, ticking the minutes and hours away.


11.8.13 Tokyo last night-16Dinner that night was at one of the big shopping high rises, which like the stations, are huge mall-like structures with shop after cute little shop.  We found a traditional tempura restaurant, and they weren’t afraid of Americans, even though they couldn’t speak English.  We made hand gestures and pointed at things until it became clear where the miso broth was, what plate to put the salt on, and then the tempura began to arrive, in wave after wave of seafood and vegetables in the lightest of batters.  How could anyone lose weight eating this stuff?  Five and six hours a day walking will do it, though, so we ate up.

11.8.13 Tokyo last night-6-2Another quick stop for a chocolate dessert in our high-rise shopping mall, and then our for an after dinner stroll. We found another high-rise and low and behold, it had seven hundred more shops filled with people, and three or four floors dedicated to restaurants and eateries of all kinds.  Christmas is in the air here, and all the shops are decorated with lights and music.  We enjoyed watching shoppers take photos of themselves by the Christmas trees, before stumbling off to our super-cool hotel room.  Worth every penny, if only for one night!

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