So this is only day two and I already managed to break my promise of blogging every day. Two major things conspired against me. One, my custom blogging engine didn't work across time zones which took me multiple nights to fix. Second, posting to my personal blog made me much more paranoid of the quality of my writing compared to dumping my brain to Facebook every night from my iPhone while in bed. I found myself writing a draft but not being satisfied enough to publish it. Fatigue would then take hold and I would just go to bed. Drafts kept piling up and I never got any of them in a publishable state. Everything you read from this point on is being posted at the end of my vacation. I apologize for this and in the future I will set more realistic expectations.
Jet lag truly does suck and it seems that I did not do enough to fight it off this trip. I woke up at 2am local time with an upset stomach that kept me up for about an hour before I managed to fall back asleep until I woke up for good at 6:30am. It seems that passing out at 9pm, exhausted from 16 hours of travel doesn't do enough to stave off the jet lag gods.
Wide awake at this point, I watched the first three maps of the IEM Oakland CS:GO grand finals before finally getting out of bed around 8:30am and began preparing for the day. The plan was to walk to Zōjō-ji temple, then Tokyo Tower before heading to Tokyo Station for lunch and ending the day at the Imperial Palace.
After a quick ten minute walk from our Airbnb we arrived at Zōjō-ji temple. I have seen probably a dozen shrines during in my time in Japan but every time I come across a new one it still impresses me. The unique structure of the buildings haven't lost their charm and Zōjō-ji was no different. Also, Zōjō-ji was only a five minute walk from Tokyo Tower so it gave some incredible views of the tower as well. After taking an inordinate amount of photos we walked to the base of the Tokyo Tower just to get a sense of its massive size. We decided to not go inside because we had plans to go to the observation desks of some other towers during our trip.
One thing really worth mentioning is that both Zōjō-ji and Tokyo Tower were surrounded by all sorts of small parks with some of the the prettiest landscaping I have ever seen. Momiji-dani park, just south of Tokyo Tower, had a tiny waterfall that you could walk up to by traversing a stream populated with moss covered stones. It boggles my mind to think of how a city as dense as Tokyo is able to maintain such amazing greenery. This became a recurring theme throughout our entire trip. We were constantly stumbling upon amazingly manicured parks that were nestled in-between massive skyscrapers. The juxtaposition of those visuals always blew my mind. Some of my favourite pictures are from inside some random park we found with the Tokyo skyline in the background.
Anyways, I could wax poetically about Tokyo greenery for days. At this point we left Tokyo Tower and began to walk towards Tokyo Station moving through the Ginza district along the way. If you are looking for high end shopping from the major brands like Chanel, Guici and Swarovski then come to the Ginza district. Also, if you want to be mobbed by Chinese tourists looking for the same thing then definitely come to Ginza. When we finally arrived at Tokyo Station we managed to stumble upon a Rilakkuma store which became Elsie's sole focus of attention and resulted in our first, but not last, impulse purchases of the trip. After Elsie got her fill we found a curry shop called Tikatika and had our first meal of the day.
With our bellies nice and full from some delicious Japanese curry we headed out towards the Imperial Palace which was a short walk from Tokyo Station. Upon arrival we realized that the Imperial Palace is not open to tourists and essentially all you can do is stand in a big gravel covered square outside of some gates with a forest obscuring a view of the palace in the background. I have absolutely no idea why people recommend that you go to the Imperial Palace. It was a complete waste of our time. If you are planning a trip to the Tokyo don't make the Imperial Palace a part of your plans.
After realizing the Imperial Palace was a flop and that it was only 1pm we sat down and tried to find something else to occupy our afternoon. We decided to head to Mori Tower because the Abroad in Japan YouTube channel said it was one of the best views in Tokyo and after having been there ourselves I can say that he is 100% correct.
The Mori Tower has a "Sky View" attraction which essentially allows you to walk around a large portion of the perimeter of the 52nd floor and get amazing views of a large part of Tokyo. There also is a museum which was showing the art of Leandro Erlich when we were visiting. As we were getting ready to leave, completely satisfied with our time at Mori Tower, we realized there was one more attraction called the "Sky Deck". For this you actually get to climb onto the roof of the tower and get a truly 360 degree view of Tokyo. This is a must do activity for anyone who is visiting Tokyo. The views were truly spectacular.
Having been thoroughly drained after our amazing Mori Tower experience we decided we needed some coffee and stopped in a Starbucks at the base of the tower. The bottom five floors of the tower were commercial space and the weirdest thing was how yuppieish it felt. If we weren't surrounded by Japanese people I would have swore we were in Fairview Mall in Toronto. Nothing felt Japanese at all. It was like a portion of the city that had been completely built out to emulate western commercialism.
Even after the coffee, Elsie and I were still feeling pretty jet lagged so we decided it was time to head back to the Airbnb and relax while watching day 9 of the Kyūshū Basho sumo wrestling tournament. After this trip I need to find some way to follow sumo wrestling in the US because damn it is really really fun to watch. When the tournament day finished and with our energy still fading we decided to hit up a ramen place near our Airbnb that was recommended by our hosts called Sora. We both had spicy miso soup (I went for level five, their hottest) and I gotta say that it was some of the finest ramen I have ever had. If you are in the Minato area and are looking for some spicy ramen definitely give Sora a try.
Even after our delicious ramen we were both running on fumes so we headed straight back to our Airbnb and hopped into bed. We were going to need our rest if we were going to make it though sight-seeing in Odaiba tomorrow.#Japan#Tokyo2017