The first full day of my fourth trip to Tokyo was hectic.
I started off with breakfast at the hotel. 1200 yen for the buffet. It’s pretty good. Some of it is a little unexpected, but that’s breakfast in Japan. The bacon was a bit bland to me, but I’m used to hickory-smoked bacon. On the upside, you can try out a Japanese-style breakfast, or chicken out and have your Western-style breakfast if fish is too much for early in the morning.
After breakfast, I went over to Bic Camera to check out the PS Vita. The crowds were crazy. Everyone wanted to look at it and try it out. The WiFi version was almost sold out, and I was tempted, but I had a hard time justifying the price, which would exceed 50,000 yen if I bought everything I wanted. That’s around $700 these days. No way. That’s more than my phone cost, and my phone can do a lot more without the geographic restrictions.
I headed over to Tokyo station to go to the Travel Information Center there. It took me a while to find it. It’s not in the station proper– it’s outside, in a random, unmarked building. It needs better signage for us clueless tourists, because I walked past it a few times.
I got there and spent some time talking to the ladies behind the desk there. They had a lot of good ideas for things to do, and I grabbed a bunch of pamphlets. I’ll have to sort it all out later and figure out what I want to get done in this one week I have here. (Less than a week, really. 5-6 days, tops.)
What to do next… I know. I’ve wanted to go to the Tokyo Tower forever, but I have never been able to make it happen.
So I hopped on a few trains, and got to the Tower after a bit of a walk. I had my camera, so I took a lot of pictures.
There was a bit of a wait to get to the main observation deck, but I got there okay. It was crowded. Today you could see Mt. Fuji, so that view was exceptionally popular. It was popular with me, too!
I had my new circular polarizer, so I tried using it… and it failed utterly. The windows are coated with something that makes the polarizer do weird things.
Yeah, even with a polarizer, sometimes I just got those weird ugly rainbows in my photos, so those went into the recycle bin. I had to use the lens bare, and deal with the reflections as I could. I did okay.
The views were beautiful. I stayed well after sunset.
Here are some of the shots I took:
And then there’s Mt. Fuji, which everyone was eager to get a picture of. I had my big heavy zoom lens on me, so getting shots of it was easier, but getting non-shaky in-focus shots was still hard, because the light was going, and I had to shoot around the crowds inside the observation deck. (And some photos had weird reflections in them, no matter what I tried.)
The sun is really going down now, so Mt. Fuji looks great!
I started to get tired and hungry, so I a snack at the cafe there. It was a little overpriced, but tasty. Then back to shooting photos!
Then I went downstairs to the museum/gift shop area and looked around. They had a special “Always” exhibit, about the movie. That was pretty cool. They even had a big scale model of the neighborhood in the movie.
While I was down there, I saw a flier for fireworks tonight by the Rainbow Bridge at 7:00. It was 6:20-ish. Maybe I could make it if I hurry.
I stopped outside the Tower to take a few more photos, and headed to the Oedo Line at Akabanebashi, then rode to Shiodome to grab the monorail.
On my way to try to catch the fireworks, I got a little lost transferring from the Oedo line to the Monorail, so I lost some precious minutes.
As I was riding the monorail (which is pretty cool, by the way), I saw the flashes in the background between the buildings, and missed the fireworks. I got to the Rainbow Bridge area by 7:15, and they were already long over.
So I hopped back on the monorail, took it to the Oedo line, and headed back to Shinjuku for dinner.
I’ve seen Memory Lane on some TV travel shows. It’s an area in Shinjuku that’s supposed to give you a feel of Showa-era Tokyo dining. Narrow alleys, lots of small restaurants all bumping into each other. I thought, “Hey that might be fun.”
So I wandered around, and settled on a small place selling yakitori. I sat down and ordered some yakitori, and found out that there was a 300 yen “seat charge.”
I was hungry, and I hoped that maybe the food would be worth the 300 yen extra.
It was overcooked, chewy, and generally not very good. I’ve eaten a lot of yakitori. I know good and bad. That was bad, with an extra 300 yen thrown in to boot.
I left and grabbed something else at a conbini to make up for it, then wandered around a bit more. I stopped by Yodobashi Camera in Shinjuku to see if the Vitas were selling (the WiFi was), and then to Labi to see what they were doing. More of the same. I enjoy wandering through Japanese electronics stores, because they seem to be much more exciting than the products they’re selling. It’s not just a row of vacuum cleaners, it’s an exciting row of vacuum cleaners! Something like that.
By then it was late, so I went back to the hotel, and called it a night.