Yesterday (the18th in Japan) was a CRAZY BUSY DAY. As Abe put it, I don’t think there was anything else we wanted to do in Tokyo after everything we did yesterday. Buckle in, this is a long a$$ post…
Started with a bus ride to Asakusa for the Sanja Matsuri, a festival where the mikoshi (relics) of the Senso-ji shrine are brought out and paraded around the streets.
It was CRAZY packed. SO many people.
The shrine was so beautiful.
Sunday was the last day of the festival and the highlight (we heard) is the relics being put back into the temple. We thought this happened at noon so we got there super early, but it actually was scheduled for 8 pm. So we headed onward to pass the time.
But first, we ate the festival street food. This was so good!! Best way to describe it is like a Japanese crepe. Bread/dough on the bottom with a cabbage, egg, pickled ginger, carrot, mayonnaise mixture filling and egg and sliced beef on top.
Abe also got shaved ice with milk and green tea topping. As expected, it was amazing.
In the US, I feel like street vendors try to hide what’s in their food, but here the vendors display all their whole ingredients in front of their booth!
This festival requires a post of its own too. TOO many good pictures!! And videos!
We headed to Shibuya next, which is essentially the “Times Square” like atmosphere you think of when you hear about Tokyo.
We exchanged our JR (Japan Railway) passes that let us ride as many trains as we want for 14 days!
And checked the Hachiko (the faithful dog that waited for its owner to get home from work each evening) monument at the station.
Then we crossed the most crowded intersection I’ve ever been in.
Yes, that’s the street.
And found out there was another festival going on here as well!
We stopped for some ramen noodles in a very loud place where they didn’t speak any English. (At one point they asked me if I wanted more rice, but I didn’t understand so I just froze… and they all froze… and we just stared at each other in silence from across the restaurant until Abe saved me!!)
You order and pay by pushing buttons and looking at pictures.
“No ramen! No life!” Sounds good to me 😉
The ramen was excellent! I accidentally ordered pork broth which is not my favorite, but I survived. Their broth was super creamy, I think because they used egg to thicken it! That seaweed soaked in broth eaten with rice—OMG.
At this point, I was full and ready for a nap, but going “home” was too far 😦 so we headed to Ueno in search of a park to relax in. (really just get away from all the crowds! No good for this introvert!)
Alas, no grass and it was still crowded but at least it had a pretty view.
Then we headed back to Sanja Matsuri to see the “big event” of putting the relics away.
Everything was beautiful lit up, but SO. PACKED. Have I mentioned that the Japanese have very little regard for personal space??
We climbed up ON the shrine (big no no, but the police didn’t kick us off and the locals did it first!!) To get a better view, but nothing exciting happened! They just walked past us doing the same thing they did all day and then everyone around us started leaving. Seriously?! That was it?!
All this time, Abe was doing his best with our limited Internet (7-11 and train stations for the win!) to connect up with his high school friend (she was a foreign exchange student) that lives in Tokyo, named Rikako. We were able to connect up with her right after the festival and she invited us to a Robot Show that had been recommended by Anthony Bordain (in his show, Parts Unknown: Tokyo) AND Australian friends we made on the bike tour. How could we say no? We booked it to Shinjuku juuust in time to make a 10pm show.
It. Was. Crazy. Strippers, robots, lights, music and more robots!!! Random, but awesome and very well done!
It was so nice to meet her and experience the show and Shinjuku with a local! She had never been to the show (or really heard about what it entailed), and was a little taken aback by it all. She asked me at the end (with raised eyebrows) “should I recommend this to other people???” lol!
Finally, 17 hours after we left the house that morning, we headed home, missed our stop, and got yelled at by Abe’s dad for not letting him know where we were… Overall, a good day!
Hopefully the rest of the trip will be more mellow. We’re on the bullet train to the rural town where Abe’s dad grew up as I type 🙂 we’ll see what the internet connection is like!!