Epic trekking today! We started out early, Tak and Mitzi were headed to Shimane to visit Tak’s family, and we had intended to head downtown with them, but we thought they were leaving at 7 and they left at 6:45, so we were not quite ready to go when they left. We made it out the door at 7:05 and on our way. Unfortunately, I forgot about Tokyo rush hour traffic, and we ended getting squished pretty good on the train. I do not recommend traveling with a two-and-a-half year old on the Tokyo train system during rush hour! She started to get a little frantic one stop before our destination and we had to get of at Saginomia, basically a bedroom community and the station was right in the middle of a residential area. Fortunately we found a playground not far from the station and Miwa got some time to play while we waited for rush hour to subside.
Miwa passed out when we got back on the train, so Jill and I decided to get off at Akihabara, the infamous high-tech district. We were looking for a specific lens for the camera, and did a bit of shopping around, eventually found it at a little place around the corner from the main street. The first time I went to Akihabara I was blown away, so much high tech stuff, so many bright lights. This time it just kind of seem gaudy, and the tech in the stores was pretty much standard fare, basically what you could get at Future Shop. I think the tech industry has advanced their distribution so that things are released everywhere at the same time, and Akihabara is no longer ahead of the rest of the world. Still well worth a visit, especially after dark when all the signs are lit up.
Next stop was Ueno Park, in search of another playground. It seems to be the only way to keep Miwa pacified. “Yes, Miwa, we are going to find you another playground!” Well, there are worse ways to see a city. Playgrounds tend to be located in parks, so the scenery is nice. Ueno Park was quite nice, there were even a few early cherry blossoms out. No playground, but there was a mini amusement park with coin operated rides that amused Miwa with no coins required. We did spring for a flying elephant ride, but by far Miwa’s favorite was the Honda mini-van. Go figure. Jill loved the little children who were in probably kindergarten lined up nicely and following the leader like good little people. For that many kids there were only about 3 adults!!
Lunch was ramen at a little shop under the rails on Ameyayokocho, a street filled with little shops selling everything from dried fish to Hello Kitty socks. Very good Ramen, and a little sign on the wall said they had been ranked as the 4th best place to have ramen in Tokyo. That’s pretty good in a city of 13 million! (note: depending on how you define Tokyo, that figure could rise to 35 million)
View of Ameyayokocho
We decided to knock off another destination while we were downtown, so we hopped the train to Shibuya, home of the busiest intersection on earth, with about a million people crossing each day, and up to 10,000 at a single changing of the light. Not that many when we were there, thankfully. We managed to do a little shopping around by telling Miwa that we were trying to find her a cute purse. We are going to try to stretch that one out for a few days.
Hachiko the dog
Home again for dinner. Miwa collapsed at about 8:30. Jill and I struggled to stay awake for a while so we could sleep in past 5 for once. Good thing we did! There was a 6.8 earth quake with a tsunami warning at 18:14 JST (Japan Standard Time) so we got to see how the TV warning system worked. As soon as there is an earthquake, a warning chime sounds and a location map pops up on the TV, in the case of tsunami warnings, a subsequent map with warning areas and predicted wave heights comes up. Another warning came up at 21:05, and it showed the area we are in highlighted in red. We had time to think, “Hey, that’s us!” and then the shaking started. There was maybe 15 seconds of dishes-rattling shaking followed by another 15-30 seconds for swaying. I thought it was pretty neat. Definitely in a earthquake zone though. That’s two we have felt in the week we have been here. Compare that to the 5 I’ve felt in 35 years back home, three of which were “was that an earthquake?” sort of events.