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Japan 2016: Day 8

This article is a post I originally made on Facebook about our eighth day in Japan which took place on April 10, 2016. On the 1 year anniversary of our trip to Japan I decided to repost it here on my blog. The original post has been edited/cleaned up a bit but its spirit remains.

We had finally reached the end of our stay in Kyoto. After the most delightful wake-up call from the elderly woman running the ryokan ("Good morning. Breakfast is ready.") we headed downstairs to partake in a traditional Japanese breakfast. It consisted of sesame tofu, a boiled egg, miso soup, fried sardines, various pickled vegetables, seaweed paper and some delicious white rice. After scarfing it down (Jarques and Tina were particular enamored with in the seaweed paper) we packed up all of our belongings, checked out of our ryokan and made our way to Kyoto Station for one final ride.

We got our tickets for the exact same Shinkansen that we took on our first day in Japan and began the reverse trip back to Shinagawa Station in Tokyo. When we arrived we transferred to the Yamanote Line (a loop, similar to the one in Osaka, that takes you to all of the major stations and wards of Tokyo) and took it to Hamamatsuchō Station. We disembarked and walked to our Airbnb in the Minato district where we met our hosts Ken & Nico.

I have had pretty shitty luck with Airbnb over the years but I can say without hyperbole that this Airbnb is the greatest. There is no contest whatsoever. It is probably only 700 square feet but every inch is perfectly laid out from the tiny living room with the massive 60 inch TV to the quant kitchen with a fridge that complains to you when you leave the door open too long. Don't forget the heated flooring in both the living room and bathroom or the electronic bidet with heated seat that can gently shoot warm water at your butt on demand. Truly Japan is living in the future.

It took about an hour for us to unpack and settle in to our new accommodations. It still being quite early we decided to try to get a half day of sightseeing in and visit the famous Shibuya Crossing. We made our way back to Hamamatsuchō Station and took the Yamanote loop to Shibuya Station where we finally got to experience a crowded Tokyo station and its organized chaos. Easily tens of thousands of people whizzing about and us four gaijin standing there looking stunned. When we finally found the correct exit we were greeted by another massive throng of people who were either in line to walk across Shibuya Crossing or take a picture of themselves with the statue of Hachikō, the most loyal dog on Earth. I have lived in or visited a number of metropolises in my life, including the largest in Canada, but the density of Tokyo really is on another level. I had never seen so many people in a single area and I am including conventions or concerts I have been to. It was mind blasting.

We made our way through the crossing and headed to Center Gai to find ourselves some food because it was approaching 3pm and we had not eaten since 8am. We came across a stand-up sushi bar and jumped in for a quick set of delicious nigiri. The maguro (tuna) really was something special. I cannot wait to hit up a kaiten sushi bar and indulge myself even more. After finishing our sushi we continued to wander around Center Gai and came across a gyoza bar whose menu consisted only of pictures depicting the various mounds of gyozas you could order. Having just eaten some sushi we "only" got a pile of 20 gyozas and some beer.

With our stomaches now completely packed we decided to walk some of it off and headed north to Yoyogi Park and the Meiji Shrine. It was quite amazing to see a massive forest in the middle of this dense metropolis. By the time we got to the center of the park there was only greenery as far as the eye could see. One could easily forget that they were still in Tokyo.

With our feet now sufficiently aching we made our way back to Shibuya Crossing and posted ourselves up at the Starbucks that looked down on the crossing. Only when you see it from above can you really understand how many hundreds if not a thousand people cross all at once. It truly is breathtaking. After taking some pictures and time lapse video our stomaches began to grumble. We decided it would be best to drop off our bags at our Airbnb and set out on another adventure for more food.

However, our laziness and hunger got the better of us and rather than explore we decided to hit up a Mos Burger (similar to Super Duper Burger for those of you from SF) for a quick bite. Afterwards we went to a convenience store beside our Airbnb to pick up some beer and snacks to the consume while we watched the greatest movie about Tokyo, The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift.

By now we were sufficiently inebriated that we climbed into bed to rest up after our exhausting first day in Tokyo.