Trip Report - Japan 5/2019 UPDATED 9/30!! ABD Day 9 - Soy Delicious - Tokyo

sayhello

Have Camera, Will Travel
Joined
Oct 28, 2006
Day 7 – Seaside Bound

This morning was our Second day in Takayama – but it was also our travel day towards Tokyo, staying overnight in Odawara.

So, it was bags out in the morning, then head to breakfast. I must admit I’ve forgotten whether we did the whole “most of your luggage will go straight to Tokyo” thing as others had reported or not. I know we were supposed to, so I probably did, but it’s one detail I’ve forgotten. I know I at least kept my rolling carryon, my personal item and my duffel bag, because I remember using the luggage rack.

When I woke up this morning, it was a bit earlier than the day before, and caught – of all things for me! – sunrise over the mountains from my hotel room. It was quite lovely!!

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But it was *really* early, so I went back to bed for just a little bit! :)

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After breakfast, we split up again, and those who had done the bike ride yesterday would be doing the walking tour in Takayama, and those of us who had toured yesterday were doing the bike ride.

I had been waffling back and forth for most of the trip so far, as to whether I was going to do the bike ride or not. I have chronic tendonitis in my wrists, and a bad back, and was just afraid of ending up in pain. But James gently pushed me in the direction of doing the bike ride, as he (correctly) thought I actually *could* do it, and would really enjoy it. He was totally correct, and I’m really, seriously glad he was! I hadn’t been on a bike in several years, but found that, well, it was like riding a bike! :D I really had no problems managing the bike; my wrists and back were fine, and really, the only issue I had was my poor butt, that was NOT used to sitting on a bike seat, no matter how comfortable it was. I felt that for a few days! 😉

We headed out to the bike outfitters with James. We got fitted for helmets, got some water, and headed to the parking lot across the street to get our bikes, which had been pre-setup for us based on our height, which had already been given to ABD. (I can’t remember if we gave them our weight, also).

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My faithful steed!

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After some familiarization with the bikes, some practice riding them, and some explanation of how the tour was going to work, how things would be signaled to us, etc., we were off with one of the Guides from the outfitters leading the way, and James herding us along.

We started our ride riding through the streets, on our way out to the fields outside of town. It was a little challenging just because of people and a few cars, but I was happy with my proficiency on the bike.

Once we got to the path that ran along the fields and rice paddies, we stopped for a bit of an orientation from our guide, then headed out.

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They were just finishing up planting the rice in the fields, and you could see tons of little shoots coming out of the water.

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It was a really, really beautiful morning! Sunny, blue skies and just the right temperature.

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After a while, we stopped at a farm where they raise Hida Beef (the region we were in is called Hida, and the cows have to reside there for a certain period of time for their beef to be allowed to be called Hida beef). That’s what we’d had the night before for dinner, and it was seriously delicious.

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Part way we stopped at a teeny shrine and filled our water bottles with the delicious water there.

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Continued in next post.
 

sayhello

Have Camera, Will Travel
Joined
Oct 28, 2006
James went straight in!

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We headed back at that point, taking a slightly different path, past farms and homes and a school.

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We also stopped for some photo ops on a bridge over a small river, and another area that had beautiful snow-capped mountains in the background. Just beautiful!

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Eventually, we returned to the outfitters shop. What a wonderful ride it was, and I was SO glad I’d done it.

We then headed into the area of town where the folks doing the walking tour were just finishing up. James told us we had some time to get lunch, shop, whatever we wanted, and what time we were to meet back up at the bus terminal to board our motorcoach.

I wanted to do some shopping/wandering, so decided to try one of the convenience stores that supposedly have such great food. There are Family Marts, 7-elevens and Lawsons, which are all pretty similar. Right by where we got dropped off was a Family Mart. I ended up getting a package with 3 different types of sandwiches, and they were really tasty. I then walked around, but I didn’t find anything I wanted to buy. But it was such a beautiful day, I didn’t mind just walking. One of the things that I’ve started collecting as a souvenir of my travels is a simple necklace from each place. I’d gotten a jade drop in China, one with a stone made of volcanic rock from Iceland, etc. What I was really looking for from Japan was a simple pearl necklace. I didn’t want a string of pearls, just a single, nice pearl. I was finding it harder than I’d thought it would be. I guess I wasn’t in the right places for pearls. I didn’t find one in Takayama, either.

Eventually we all met up, got in the motorcoach, and off we went. We were headed to Odawara, because you can’t get to Tokyo in one day. Plus, there were some nice things between Odawara and Tokyo, so it was worth taking our time.

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A dam we passed by.

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About 2 ½ hours later, we had a stop at a really amazing rest stop. They had a huge market area with all sorts of different food. And yes, they even had a Starbucks! So, everyone ran around and got snacks (like we really needed snacks with all the food James & Tomomi had on the bus!) But it was fun just to be out of the bus and run around. A lot of folks took advantage of the Starbucks, too. I got some lovely iced green tea, and finally got a melon pan. I’d heard folks talking about this from Osaka. Oh, man! Was that delicious! It’s called a melon bread because of how it looks, not how it tastes.

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Continued in next post.
 

sayhello

Have Camera, Will Travel
Joined
Oct 28, 2006
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My melon pan. Yumm!

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Out back, just beyond the Starbucks, they had a huge deck area with a beautiful view.

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Then it was back in our motorcoach!

About 45 minutes later, we pulled into another rest stop. James & Tomomi let us know that they had found out that the elusive Mt Fuji was visible, and there was a pretty good view of it from this rest stop. Mt. Fuji frequently is not visible, so when the rare ocassion occurs that it does show up, they make sure we get a chance to see and photograph it if possible. So, we all piled out and hurried off to the viewing area they had off to the side of the building. It was faint and hazy, but there it was! It was quite a treat. We all took pictures and had our photos taken with Mt. Fuji in the background, and then headed back to the motorcoach, to resume our trip.

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As we got nearer to Odawara, the sun was starting to set, and Mt. Fuji was once again visible in silhouette. Not bad for being taken from the bus!

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Eventually we made it to Odawara. It didn’t seem like the traffic was that bad, but we had arrived there much later than expected, so the only food option again was the buffet. We weren’t the only folks there, but it was pretty sparse. And I think I messed up, and this night was the Jr Adventurer night where the lone 15-year-old Jr Adventurer had her quiet dinner with her Dad and James and Tomomi. I say this because there’s a pic of the 4 of them in my file folder for that date in the Guide’s photos! Either way, it was too late to do any bowling or any of the fun activities I’ve heard that other groups did.

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We eventually made up it to our rooms. It’s SUCH a shame we didn’t spend more time at this hotel, because it was wonderful. I think we all had the same type of room. Mine was very large and had *two* balconies that overlooked the ocean, which was just visible in the twilight. There was the “typical” hotel room with 2 full-sized beds, a lounging couch, a table, etc.

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But there was a separate room with a low table with pillows around it, for eating at I presume. What I didn’t realize was that there were tatami mats in the closets in this room, and you could move the table out of the way and sleep on the floor on the tatami mats. I really wish I’d known that (or explored a bit more!) because I would have liked to have experienced that. Of course, my back is probably really glad I didn’t know about it! 😊

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  • sayhello

    Have Camera, Will Travel
    Joined
    Oct 28, 2006
    Wow, your room was much better than our two! Neither of our rooms had the separate area with the mats. Love the bike pics, too!
    Ours didn't either -- @sayhello I think you had a serious upgrade! VERY nice room!
    :eek:
    I just assumed everyone got them because a couple of other people mentioned finding the tatami mats and sleeping on them! Well, heck! :) That's cool (for me!) Now I *really* wish I'd have known about the tatami mats!

    Sayhello
     
  • CaliforniaGirl09

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Dec 4, 2009
    :eek:
    I just assumed everyone got them because a couple of other people mentioned finding the tatami mats and sleeping on them! Well, heck! :) That's cool (for me!) Now I *really* wish I'd have known about the tatami mats!

    Sayhello
    Yes, I think that was a serious upgrade! Our rooms each had the elevated platform for the beds (which may have had mats on them?), but the rooms were really narrow.
     

    TarotFox

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Feb 8, 2019
    Tatami isn't very comfortable for sleeping on top of without a futon, anyway. I don't think you'd be meant to without one?
     

    sayhello

    Have Camera, Will Travel
    Joined
    Oct 28, 2006
    Tatami isn't very comfortable for sleeping on top of without a futon, anyway. I don't think you'd be meant to without one?
    I assume that was part of what was in the closets. But I didn't see them, so I don't know.

    Sayhello
     

    AquaDame

    Disney Cruise Line
    Moderator
    Joined
    Jul 7, 2010
    I assume that was part of what was in the closets. But I didn't see them, so I don't know.

    Sayhello
    The ryokans I have stayed in were always like this - they folded our futon in the closet during the day to make room for the table, then put them out again for us every night. I enjoy sleeping on them but the pillows I've had were VERY hard! Almost like they have rice or beans instead of feathers or synthetic fluff. That part I wasn't so keen on... the first trip I ended up using my travel pillow I had with a T-shirt as a cover for it instead.
     
  • LovesTimone

    Christmas Day 2017
    Joined
    Apr 29, 2009
    The ryokans I have stayed in were always like this - they folded our futon in the closet during the day to make room for the table, then put them out again for us every night. I enjoy sleeping on them but the pillows I've had were VERY hard! Almost like they have rice or beans instead of feathers or synthetic fluff. That part I wasn't so keen on... the first trip I ended up using my travel pillow I had with a T-shirt as a cover for it instead.

    We take our pillows with us when we travel, especially internationally... We each have one that you can mash flat almost, and then once out of the luggage will fluff up again they are standard/queen size ( we only use these for travel)... I made a couple of bright colored pillowcases to use so that they don't get left in the room on check out day... I have a friend that will buy a cheap pillow like at Wal-mart or where-ever, and then just leave it in the room, so she has more room in her luggage for on the way home...
     

    sayhello

    Have Camera, Will Travel
    Joined
    Oct 28, 2006
    The ryokans I have stayed in were always like this - they folded our futon in the closet during the day to make room for the table, then put them out again for us every night. I enjoy sleeping on them but the pillows I've had were VERY hard! Almost like they have rice or beans instead of feathers or synthetic fluff. That part I wasn't so keen on... the first trip I ended up using my travel pillow I had with a T-shirt as a cover for it instead.
    This wasn't a ryokan, it was a "resort and spa", but we were literally only there overnight as a stop on the way to Tokyo. Perhaps if we'd been there more nights they might have done that. I *always* sleep with my contoured memory foam pillow that I travel with. Once I started sleeping on one, I just cannot sleep with any other pillow. If I do, I end up with a horrible crick in my neck. Plus, there were plenty of pillows on the western beds I could have used. :)
    We take our pillows with us when we travel, especially internationally... We each have one that you can mash flat almost, and then once out of the luggage will fluff up again they are standard/queen size ( we only use these for travel)... I made a couple of bright colored pillowcases to use so that they don't get left in the room on check out day... I have a friend that will buy a cheap pillow like at Wal-mart or where-ever, and then just leave it in the room, so she has more room in her luggage for on the way home...
    As I've noted above, I always take a standard sized contoured memory foam pillow with me when I travel. I have done so for *years and years*. It's a pain, because it's heavy, but for the last couple of years, I've used one of those compression plastic bags that you can squeeze all the air out of, and at least it takes up less space. I *usually* put a brightly-colored pillow case on it, also, but I somehow forgot the pillowcase when I went to China 2 years ago, so I took the pillowcase off one of the hotel pillows. I was worried I'd accidentally leave it. I ended up buying a pillowcase in Stanley Market for it.

    Sayhello
     

    sayhello

    Have Camera, Will Travel
    Joined
    Oct 28, 2006
    Day 8 – Slurp’s Up!

    Woke up to another gorgeous day!

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    Went to make what I thought was tea bag coffee, and found out it was actually a very elaborate disposable pour-over coffee. It was actually pretty good!

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    After breakfast, it was time to head out and continue our trip to Tokyo, but we had a couple of great stops along the way.

    I had been warned by folks from the first departure that this day of traveling could be a little rough for those of us susceptible to motion sickness, due to the mountain roads we’d be traveling down, so I put the Patch on ahead of time. (It really did help!) The bus headed back down the mountains, and eventually we made it to our first stop – The Hakone Open-Air Museum.

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    The weather really was just beautiful, so the fact that most of the artwork in this modern/abstract art museum was outdoors, in a lushly green area, was a real bonus. Normally they had a large exhibit of Picassos, but that building was closed while we were there. They did have a selection of his works in a different building for us to see. I started with that exhibit.

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    It was interesting, but not that engaging. I imagine the full collection probably has more impact.

    Then it was back out into the blue skies to check out the outside installations.

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    The arms spun around independently, somehow not hitting each other and looked quite spacey!

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    There was a globe like this in the courtyard of the Vatican when I was there in 2010. I presume it’s still there, but I haven’t checked recently. 😉

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    sayhello

    Have Camera, Will Travel
    Joined
    Oct 28, 2006
    Interesting…

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    This guy was meticulously cleaning this sculpture. Everything looked to be in a fabulous state of repair.

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    A lot of people were pretty enamored of this sculpture! :)

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    I just thought the color of the leaves was so gorgeous!

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    In one area was a large tower made entirely or stained glass. You accessed it via a winding staircase up & then down the center of the tower. With all the sunlight, it was really quite gorgeous!

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    The views from the top were lovely.

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    The up & down staircases were separate, but entwined around the same central pole. So the views were slightly different each way.

    There was an area just past the stained-glass tower that had a foot bath. It was a long trench coated in stone, with a bench along one side. The water was luxuriously warm. You could take off your socks and shoes, roll up your pant legs, and just soak your feet. You could purchase little souvenir towels to wipe your feet off with.

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    Tomomi and the stained-glass tower.

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    I then joined Tomomi in walking the long way back to the main building where our meeting spot was. We saw some more interesting art along the way, and also passed the closed Picasso building.

    I imagine this open-air museum is not particularly everyone's cup of tea, but I really, *really* enjoyed it, and could have spent more time there. But we had places to be!

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    sayhello

    Have Camera, Will Travel
    Joined
    Oct 28, 2006
    We all hit the very interesting gift shop then, and did some serious damage to our wallets before heading back out to the motorcoach to continue our journey.

    James and Tomomi spent a lot of the bus time telling us about their childhoods in Japan, and what school was like in Japan, etc. James also told us about the culture shock he encountered when he moved with his family from the American base they lived on in Japan to the Midwest of the United States. It was all fascinating!

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    Eventually, we hit the beach area of Kamakura, on our way to the beach-front restaurant we’d be eating lunch at. Unfortunately, we also hit horrific beach traffic, and it took us EONS to get to the restaurant. We were crawling so slowly (for at *LEAST* an hour!) that we probably could have walked there faster. We were all pretty starving by the time we got there. (Well, as starving as you can get on an ABD motorcoach with Adventure Guides plying you with snacks!!) The restaurant was called POST by Honey, which I found out stood for Pacific Ocean Sea Table.

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    We were seated inside the restaurant, in our own area, with ceiling to floor windows facing out to the beach and ocean. It was very pretty!

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    The food was Western (things like chicken tenders and curly fries and pasta and such). The service was really slow (although it’s hard to tell if some of that was because we were SO much later than we were supposed to be). But the food was really good. It was a bit of a struggle to get water, though, which was kind of odd. But, overall, it was a really good meal.

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    After lunch, we headed back out to our motorcoach (on the way, this low-rider car with crazy springs or whatever causes them to bounce drove past, blaring the radio. It was really pretty funny, although it seemed so Southern Californian rather than Japanese!)

    Our next stop was not that far away. It was Kōtoku-in Temple, home of one of Japan’s National Treasures – the Great Buddha of Kamakura.

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    You walk into the Temple grounds, but you can’t see the Buddha. You walk along a path, surrounded by beautiful trees, and they have it all set so that you turn a corner, and Bam! there is the Buddha! It’s a pretty dramatic setup!

    The Great Buddha of Kamakura at 43 feet tall is not as big as the Big Buddha in Nara, which is 50 feet tall. But because it’s outside, it *seems* much bigger! It was really impressive.

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    Apparently, some departures had a chance to go actually inside of the Buddha, but I imagine that after our long drive to lunch, we just didn’t have time for that.

    Apparently the ABD does not stop there any more (even some of the trips this summer did not stop there.) It's too bad, because I thought it was really neat, but I'm sure it's a logistics thing for this travel day.

    After we had finished taking photos, we were given a short while to walk around the area, take more photos, hit the bathrooms, whatever. At the meetup time, I headed out to the front of the temple to the meeting spot, and no-one was there! I *thought* I’d seen some of the folks from our group just ahead of me, but they were no-where to be found. Just as I was getting ready to call James, he showed up. Apparently, my old brain had failed me, and they had told us to meet out where the motorcoach had dropped us off, not at the front of the Temple. Whoops. Fortunately, James hadn’t taken too long to realize and come back after me.

    After another hour and a half, we arrived in Yokohama for our next activity, the CUPNOODLES Museum, dedicated to all things freeze-dried ramen cup! I *always* thought it was Cup O’ Noodles, but it’s not. I’m not the only one who thought that apparently! 😊

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    The area of the museum that we were in was the “Make your own CUPNOODLE” area. It was a MASSIVE room, with various stations, and a HUGE THRONG of people! (But we made it through each area very efficiently. These folks really knew what they were doing to move THAT many people through so quickly!!)

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    sayhello

    Have Camera, Will Travel
    Joined
    Oct 28, 2006
    Our first stop was an area where they had tons of round tables set up with brightly colored markers in the center. We were each given an empty cup, which was blank on the back, and we colored them however we wanted. The one thing they insisted was that you put the date on your cup, as our CUPNOODLES would only be good for 3 months.

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    Once we’d finished with our decorating, we got in line to get our cups filled. First, they had a little machine that dumped a pre-measured lump of freeze-dried noodles into your cup. Then you got to choose what type of soup base you wanted (I got curry) and then 4 ingredients. They had all sorts of vegetables and proteins that you could choose from. I got corn, green beans, cheese and chicken.

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    They then put the lid on and wrapped it in shrink-wrapping plastic that they heated to seal your cup.

    After that, you assembled a little inflated “purse” that you could use to carry your creation around with you.

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    We then had some time to wander the museum and see some of the exhibits about all the different types of CUPNOODLES that have been available over the years, and about the inventor of the CUPNOODLES, Momofuku Ando.

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    We hit the extensive gift shop on the way out, and then waited outside for a while for our motorcoach to show up. It seemed like there were several times on this trip where our motorcoach driver could not park near where we were, and had to be summoned back when we were finished. We spent the time outside, talking and looking at this amusement park that was across the street from the museum.

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    Then we were off again. The traffic at this point got pretty bad again, apparently because a certain President was in Tokyo at that time for a state visit.

    We drove through the Port area of Tokyo, which looked pretty much like any Port city.

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    Finally, we made it to the AMAZING Peninsula Tokyo Hotel.

    Like in Shanghai, they took us up to a conference room and got us all checked in. They had Mickey-themed snacks for us while we waited!

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    Then each of us was escorted to our lovely rooms. This room was VERY similar to the room I had at the Peninsula Shanghai, but it was in much nicer condition. Just absolutely beautiful.

    There was a humongous closet/dressing room that had music, a little door where you left laundry and got your daily newspaper, and even a nail polish dryer if you needed one.

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    sayhello

    Have Camera, Will Travel
    Joined
    Oct 28, 2006
    The bedroom was very nice, with tray ceilings, large windows, a very cool sliding door that was a slab of wood, a sitting area in front of the TV, a desk, a coffee/tea area, etc.

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    Here is the first set of amazing chocolates they had sitting out for me. They (almost) looked too good to eat!!

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    And then there was the bathroom. A tub to die for, and two lovely vanity areas, one of which had a TV embedded in the mirror! There was also a very large glassed-in shower, and a glass booth area for the fancy toilet. Quite amazing!

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    I settled in, and then got dressed to head back out for our dinner.

    Unfortunately, on our way to dinner, we got caught at what turned out to be a barricaded, closed street, as the President’s motorcade traveled nearby. We were at a dead stop for a LONG time. Finally, since we were only a couple of blocks away from the restaurant, James & Tomomi decided the best course of action was for us to get off the motorcoach and walk the rest of the way there. It was definitely the right call, because it wasn’t that far away, and there was no way of telling how long the barricade would be up. (They actually started taking it down just about the time we got to the restaurant).

    Our dinner for tonight was at Gonpachi. If you’ve seen the movie Kill Bill, they re-created this restaurant for the fight scene. I guess Tarantino wanted to actually film at the restaurant, but they said No, so he re-created it.

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    It’s kind of a loud, lively place, with multiple levels, and lots of different seating.

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    We ended up upstairs, at the traditional, on the floor seating. Tomomi said they never know if they’re going to get that area or not until they get there. I guess it depends on how busy they are or something.

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    sayhello

    Have Camera, Will Travel
    Joined
    Oct 28, 2006
    Anyways, it was very cool sitting there, and watching and listening to everything going on. The food was quite good.

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    Part way through dinner, they lowered the lights, and the entertainment was a group of women doing Taiko drumming on a large, raised platform. It was really amazing! It was one of the fun things that, having taken some Taiko drumming lessons earlier on, we could really appreciate how difficult it was! They sounded really amazing, and played on several different size and types of Taiko drums.

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    After dinner was over, we headed back to our motorcoach, and off we went to Shibuya Crossing. Shibuya Crossing is said to be the busiest intersection in the world, and it certainly seemed that way, even in the evening. But it’s hard to know how much of that is a self-fulfilling thing, as so many people were there to cross because it was the busiest crossing… so was it self-perpetuating? The place was brightly lit, with neon everywhere. It was fun getting out and crossing in the different patterns across the intersection, and James & Tomomi set up quick photos with everyone in between red lights.

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    It was fun and pretty exhilarating. We also checked out the statue of a famous dog that is just off the intersection. I forget what his story was, but he was renowned as a very loyal akita.

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    After that, it was back to the motorcoach, and back to the beautiful Peninsula Tokyo for the night.

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    These strange sculptures were in a windowed shaft between some of the elevators. Very unusual.

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    Up next – Day 9 – Soy Delicious
     
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