Saturday, June 2, 2012

The Train Game: Adventures in Tokyo

So technically that title is inaccurate because it should be called the Subway Game, but that doesn't rhyme, and they're basically the same thing here, so this is better. Today we spent the day sightseeing some of the things on the top of Mom and Julie's list. This basically meant we took a lot of subways to a lot of places to take pictures. Here we go!

The subways here have been a new experience for me. The last time I was here my hostel was off of a train station; naturally I got around with the trains. However, our hotel is based out of Higashi Ginza, a subway station. Ergo, we take the subways everywhere. Today, for cheapness and ease, we bought a day pass for the subway; this was no problem because the ticket machine happily had an English button. Woo!

We started the day kind of late, so we first set off for lunch. Mom really wanted to try omurice, an omelet with ketchup and rice inside that is sometimes covered with sauces. I googled around and found one nearby for lunch. It was a bit of a cafeteria style and not really a restaurant, but there was omurice to be had. Mom said it was "good" and Julie said it was "very filling" and "pretty good for cafeteria fare." Successful lunch.

Next, we hopped on the subway to the next stop, Tokyo National Stadium, which was a significant building from the 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games. Julie, who has been to Rome, Beijing, and Seoul, likes to see venues or shrines to past Olympic events. Although the Tokyo National Stadium had no memorial, she was "glad I went to a place that was once used for the Tokyo 1964 Olympics." There was a bit of confusion, so we did not go to the building where the swimming was held, but this building hosted the opening ceremony, so it was awesome.

After a subway ride away, we arrived in Shibuya to see the largest crosswalk in the world. Julie said she "thought it would be bigger," but she "realized how big it actually was when we started crossing." Mom said "it's a crosswalk, it was busy." This is true. We also saw the statue for Hachiko, the dog who waited for his master who never returned from work. Sad.

The last time I went to Shibuya we walked there, so I have no knowledge about the actual station. Therefore, we ended up walking in a nice underground circle to the next subway. Woops! Finally, we made it to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building for some skyviews. (Also on the way, we saw some advertisements for Tokyo as a 2020 Olympic candidate, awesome!)

Unfortunately, it was very foggy, so we could not see Fuji. Again. Sigh. Mom and Julie were sad, but Julie said "it was cool to see the skyline." She also thought the toy shop gift store on the top was interesting as well.

Another subway ride away was our dinner location, the Hard Rock Cafe, yummmmm. Not only did I get an awesome burger again, but we got potato skins. Victory. We also went to the shop too (the waitress gave me a card for some free pins, cute) and I got a jacket. Julie was sad but not surprised that at the store "they only had smalls, which are even smaller than normal smalls." When I have bought clothes in this country, I usually cut out the middle man and end up buying mens' sizes. (I really only bought One Piece shirts, but hey, I've seen 2 guys wearing my jacket, haha)

Finally, we come home. We were on the subway a lot today; therefore, Julie and Mom got a taste of the gaijin treatment. Sometimes on a train, Japanese people will get up and sit somewhere else; I have had some even change entire train cars simply because I am on the train. It is not meant to be offensive; it is a cultural attitude from lack of awareness. Julie has had this experience already in China. She said that "I don't think it's their fault. I'm not blaming them; it's not meant to be a slight." Mom, who had never had such an experience before, was a little "put off, but it was a culture issue so I understand."

Overall, there were many successful adventures had today! Tomorrow we return to Osaka!


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