Old Nov 5, 10, 5:42 am
Flying Buccaneer
Join Date: Oct 2003
Location: TPA
Programs: DL Plat, AA Plat 2MM, HH Diamond, WoH Explorist, SPG Gold
Posts: 2,199
Friday, November 5: More Tokyo

After Thursday’s marathon exploration of Tokyo, I did not feel like leaving the hotel for dinner. I decided to take advantage of the spread in the Executive Lounge instead. The offerings were not identical to what was there Wednesday night, and the small plates were satisfying to me because I was not that hungry. Even more satisfying were the two Asahis!

Back in the room, I posted my trip report and slipped into a deep sleep. Like the night before, jet-lag prevented my from sleeping past 3:30 a.m. No problem though, because I needed to get up early to visit Tsujiki. I left the hotel around 4:10 a.m., hoping to see the tuna auction. As I passed the main entrance to the markets, I saw four people headed in the opposite direction. One of them asked if I was going to the market. I told him that I was, but that you had to go to the Fish Information Center to go to the auction. He showed me directions he had printed that said something to the contrary. I told him I was right because I had missed out the morning before. I guess he didn’t believe me because he kept walking toward the main entrance.

As I approached the Fish Information Center, I saw a line similar to the one the morning before. Are you serious? I got there a minute after 4:30 a.m., when they start accepting reservations, and they were already full. C’est la vie! There’s always Saturday morning, but is a tuna auction worth going out of the way to see?

This morning, I decided to go ahead and walk through the markets anyway. Even though parts of the market are off-limits to visitors, those areas are clearly marked. You just have to make sure you stay vigilant with all of the forklifts, hand carts, trucks, and other things whizzing around. My head was on a swivel the whole time. Even though it was not 5:00 a.m. yet, the place was abuzz with activity. The side passageways were just as busy as the parts of the market where vehicle access was possible.

The sushi restaurants were also busy, including one with a line.

I continued my walk through the market, paranoid that maybe I had ventured into someplace I should not be. I felt like a spy, dodging vehicles and slipping into any safe nook I could find so that I could snap a quick photograph. My paranoia was possibly warranted, because as I exited the market to the street, I saw a sign that said “Do Not Enter.” Oops!

I walked back to the hotel. Even though it was still before 6:00 a.m., there was quite a bit of traffic, and I passed other pedestrians. I walked around the building to the entry to the hotel. When I got up to the 28th Floor Lobby, I saw the darkness beginning to give way to light over Tokyo Bay.

It was still an hour before breakfast started in the Executive Lounge, so I went back to the room for awhile. Mr. FB and I chatted before he left work, and I responded to a few emails that had arrived. At 7:00 a.m., I went upstairs to breakfast, and I was able to get a seat by the window. I was fascinated by the reflection of the Tokyo Shiodome Building (which houses the Conrad Hotel) in the Caretta Building.

It was nice to have such a view with breakfast. Oh, and here are the obligatory pictures of the Executive Lounge:

and my breakfast:

After such a hearty breakfast, I had to get out and burn some of the calories. My first stop was the Tokyo Edo Museum. The museum had some interesting artifacts from the Edo Period, but so did the Tokyo National Museum when I visited it the day before. I guess the main reason to visit this museum is for the more in-depth exhibits of what life was like during the Edo Period and reconstructions, like the one of the Kabuki Theatre.

Guided tours in English are available, but I didn’t want to wait 20 minutes for one to start. If you are interested in this period of Japanese period, it would be worthwhile to tag along on one of these tours. As for me, 45 minutes was more than enough time to explore the museum.

My next stop was Akahabra’s Electric Town. As soon as you exit the train station at Akahabra, you are overwhelmed by a dizzying collection of colorful buildings housing electronics showrooms, anime and comic shops, and other types of establishments.

I even saw a place that billed itself as an “Adult Amusement Park.” I didn’t cross the street to see what that was all about. I was more interested in lunch. I had read about restaurants where a customer placed and order and paid for it at a machine, and then presented a ticket to someone inside. When I saw one of these places, I thought I should give it a try.

No, neither one of those fellows is me. One of them is looking at the case with models of food available, while the other is deciding what he wants from the machine. It’s a very efficient system. Customers were in and out of the place very quickly. I had the soba noodles with shrimp tempura.

No one will ever confuse this with gourmet food, but it was quick, filling, and at 400Yen (about US$5), a good value.

My next stop was the Meiji Shrine. There was probably a more direct way to get there, but I took the Yamanote Line to Harajuku, which was easy but time consuming. Compared to the Sensoji Temple from the day before, it was not quite as impressive to a tourist. However, it was much more serene. A 15-minute walk through a park vs. the hectic Nakamise-dori helped make this a more relaxing experience. There were some curious sites along the way, including what appeared to be the world’s largest mah jong game.

This shrine is a relatively recent reconstruction of the original, but it is apparently true to the original’s design and content.

After the visit to the shrine, I walked back through the park and found Takeshita-dori, the center of activity in Harajuku.

The street was bustling with activity, wall-to-wall people for its entire length. In addition, it probably has more crepe shops per block than any other street in the world outside of Paris.

After a brief stop at the Oriental Bazaar on Omote-Sando to buy a couple of gifts, I walked to the subway to get to Roppongi before heading back to the hotel. Once again, my day of exploring Tokyo (along with the very early start to the day) left me with barely enough energy to get to the Executive Lounge to enjoy a snack and Asahi before bed. This evening, there was the added bonus of a slight tremor that lasted maybe 10 seconds.

It seems a shame to spend my last night in Tokyo in the hotel, but I think I have packed as much into my short time in Tokyo as I possibly could. Next stop, Istanbul, and (hopefully) a First Class Suite on Turkish Airlines to take me there.
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