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Tokyo 2017: Day 5

During this vacation we thought we would try to take a couple of day trips outside of Tokyo. Today was going to be one of those days but after it rained during the night and supposedly was going to rain some more during the day we decided to call an audible and chose to visit the Ueno district instead.

After our long day yesterday we both slept in very late and didn't even get out of bed until 11am and didn't leave the Airbnb until noon. We made our way to Ueno Station and exited directly out onto Ueno Park. We began to explore the park and stumbled upon Shinobazu Pond, a massive pond that is divided into three sections by an island in the middle. The most striking thing about this pond was that the southern portion was completely full of water lilies. Since we were visiting in the fall none of the lilies were in bloom and the pond was essentially just full of reeds but if you visit in the summer you can barely see the water because of all the lilies. Elsie also spotted another stray cat here so that made her day.

As we rounded the northern edge of the pond we realized that it bordered the Ueno Zoo and we headed inside. It is Japan's oldest zoo and had a surprisingly large number of animals on display for a zoo that is basically inside Ueno Park. We saw a crocodile, asian arowanas, aye-ayes, tigers, elephants, hippos, otters, a polar bear, sea lions and even a giant panda. It was a very nice zoo but still left me feeling pretty guilty. None of the habitats looked particularly spacious. I love being able to see these animals in person because I know I'll never get to see them in their natural habitat but I can't imagine they are happy at all being in this kind of captivity.

When we exited the zoo the sun was already setting so we decided to forgo exploring the rest of the park and started heading in the direction of the Tokyo Skytree. Along the way we visited the Sensō-ji temple and the Asahi Beer Hall. We stopped by the beer hall because we wanted to see the Flamme d'Or also known as "the golden poop" because of its unfortunate shape, but it seemed to be having some maintenance done to it and was under a tarp. I guess they gotta get that poop all polished up for the 2020 Olympics.

We finally reached the Skytree and were told that there were two observatory levels we could visit, one at 350 meters and another at 450 meters. Obviously we had to buy the tickets for the 450 option and holy crap was it well worth it. You get to traverse a spiral platform that takes you up an additional 5 meters to get to the highest point possible. The windows on this spiral are even larger than floor to ceiling and give you an absolutely insane view of all of Tokyo. The Skytree is a must-see attraction for anyone visiting Tokyo in my opinion. Hell, I would even go back a second time during the day to see what Tokyo looks like then with that breathtaking view.

After we got down from the observation decks we had to, in true Reid and Elsie fashion, go the Skytree Pokémon Center and blow too much money on Pokémon merchandise. After this we realized how hungry we were so we dropped off our stuff at the Airbnb and headed out to Higashi-Shinjuku Station. There we visited the Shinjuku Eastside Square where we got some kaiten sushi at the same place we ate at on our last full day in Japan on our previous trip.

With dinner complete we headed back to the Airbnb and started packing for tomorrow we had to do the old switcheroo. We were not able to reserve a single Airbnb for the entire trip so we have to head to our new place in Akihabara.