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December 11, 2019 / Jim Fenton

Japan/Singapore Day 6: Exploring Tokyo

November 13, 2019

We got a little later start today. Having finally figured out a little about Japanese breakfasts, we grabbed glasses of orange juice at the hotel and headed out on the subway for Ueno, where we wanted to see a temple and the Tokyo National Museum. In one of the subway stations along the way, we found a good local bakery/cafe, and it made a good breakfast.

Arriving in Ueno, we quickly entered the park and walked toward the museum. We stopped by the Ueno Toshogu shrine along the way, from which we got a good view of a noted five-story pagoda that is actually part of the zoo.

National Museum

There was a special exhibition at the National Museum relating to the new emperor’s coronation, and it drew a big crowd. Nevertheless, the line to get tickets and get in weren’t too long. Much of what we saw at the museum had to do with early artwork and writing dating back 1000 years or more. There was also an exhibit on conservation of historic materials, featuring some artifacts that were threatened by the terrible 2011 earthquake.

Following the museum, it was time for a late lunch, and by then I was ready for something relatively hearty. So we went to the Hard Rock Cafe in Ueno Station, which might be “cheating” in terms of not eating Japanese food, but is somewhat of a tradition from some of our other overseas travels. We then made our way to Asakusa, where Kenna had found a description of an interesting temple, and Jim remembers as a good place to shop.

Asakusa Market

We were walking through the market in Asakusa toward the temple, when I felt a tap on my shoulder. It was Dennis Dayman, a friend from the email anti-abuse community, who had just arrived in town for a conference he was participating in. It was good to see Dennis; what a small world we live in.

The temple was enjoyable and we learned a bit more about some of the traditions there from some signs that were in English. Some pieces of paper that we had thought were prayers turned out to be fortunes; you pick up a fortune (for 100 yen) and if it’s a good one, you keep it; if it’s not, you tie it onto a rack at the temple and leave it behind.

We continued to a large department store that I thought I had visited previously. It appears to have been subdivided into several smaller stores that share the building. Things change in Japan as they do at home.

Asahi Beer Hall and Skytree Tower

From Asakusa we took a bit of a walk out to the Tokyo Skytree Tower (in retrospect, perhaps we should have taken public transit). The tower was beautiful but crowded, and it had gotten dark, so we didn’t pay the admission fee to go up the tower. Instead took the subway back to Asakusa. We stopped at a beer hall run by Asahi Beer and had a light dinner there before returning to the hotel.

Total walking today: 9.1 miles, 25 floors climbed

This article is part of a series about our recent travels to Japan and Singapore. To see the introductory article in the series, click here.

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