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.