Tokyo travels – Big City, Small World

32 hours of reuniting with friends from home, making friends with friends of friends from home, devouring new music, and exploring cityscapes of all shapes and colors.

12:00 – Walk through a bustling market place. Stop for sweet bean paste snacks. Continue short pilgrimage to the Sensoji temple. Have curry udon lunch at a quaint, cozy restaurant.

3:00 – Traipse Roppongi, the neighborhood of architecture and design

4:30 – Check in at a budget, upscale hotel.

7:00 – Walk in the rain. Indian curry, basmati rice, kebabs, naan, and chai tea for dinner.

8:00 – Walk in heavier rain. Arrive at a venue very, very, very reminiscent of San Francisco. Attend a show of sweet, sultry, soulful, singer/songwriter music.

12:00am – Get caught in the pouring rain. Make friends with a musician our age who is half-Filipino, half-French, and grew up in Japan. Split a cab home.

7:30am – Wake up early with the sun streaming through our 11th floor hotel room window. Take a long, hot bath. Check out of hotel.

9:00 – Wander the streets for a nice place to have breakfast.

10:10 – While walking, notice a small, Italian-style restaurant. Peer through the blue-curtained windows and see a buffet of eggs, sausage, potatoes, soups, salad, and fruits. Stop for breakfast.

11:30 – Arrive at Ueno; admire urban picnickers – clusters of Japanese friends, families, and coworkers sprawled out under the cherry blossoms on tarps laid on the sidewalk.

12:00 – Buy $6 tickets to Ueno Zoo. Take a picture in front of the Ueno Zoo sign, the same sign where I took a picture 15 years ago with my sisters.

12:15 – 2:00 See the monkeys, gorillas, elephants, bears, and birds.

2:30 – Meet up with Cynthia and Mayur at a cat café. Spend $15 each for coffee and one hour of playtime with dozens of cats.

3:30 - Wander somewhat aimlessly about Shinjuku.

4:00 – Set off for a boat tour—mad dash across the city to make it in time for the last scheduled taxi boat departure time. Arrive at pier with 5 minutes to spare. Discover that the company took a half-day and closed 5 hours earlier. Re-board train.

5:15 – Catch a magnificent view of Tokyo bay from Rainbow Bridge.

6:00 – Dinner

7:00 – Coffee and dessert

8:00 – Get backpack from storage lockers at Ueno Station. Head for Tokyo Station.

8:20 – Purchase bus tickets for a bus back to Iwaki

8:23 – Board bus

8:30 – Depart Tokyo. Rest, reminisce over a weekend well-spent, read, sleep.

11:37pm – Home.

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