Tokyo Getaway: Part Two

So, in my last post I covered the first half of my weekend trip to Tokyo. Now I’ll get to the second part: Saturday (and Sunday morning).

Ikebukuro on a rainy Saturday afternoon.

The short version of what I did on Saturday is that I shopped. I left my hotel in Ueno at about 10:30 AM and came back at about six in the evening, after spending way too much money and going to a few different parts of the city.

Despite the above picture, I actually didn’t start with Ikebukuro. Instead, I went from Ueno to Shinjuku because I wanted to check out the Lumine (it’s a mall connected to Shinjuku Station) and the massive Kinokuniya. Kinokuniya is a chain bookstore and the one in Shinjuku has a huge English language section on one of the upper floors. I ended up buying a book about the Yakuza that looked really interesting (I just started reading it, so verdict has not been reached) and a silly thing called Kanji-A-Day. Basically, it looks like one of those stand-up desk calendars, but each sheet is a kanji with little squares for practice. It’s not a serious study aid, but kind of fun.

Outside one of the entrances to Shinjuku Station.

After books and a bit of clothing shopping and realizing that Shinjuku was way too packed for me to have any hope of eating there at one o’clock in the afternoon, I hopped on the Yamanote Line and went to Ikebukuro. I’d been there on Friday, but that was just my mission from the family, so I didn’t get to do any shopping or anything aside from find that damn hotel. On Saturday, the weather had changed to a sort of slow drizzle, so it wasn’t quite as miserable trying to get through the walking area around Sunshine City. There were still a lot of umbrellas, but it was overall a better experience getting from point A to point B.

It was a really busy day, though, which makes sense given that it was the Saturday of a three-day weekend, so I ended up only going to Tokyu Hands. Tokyu Hands is a really awesome department store. It’s big and famous and they sell everything. Seriously. I ended up buying a nice bento box that seals really tightly, two cute spoons with flags on (one UK and one Japan), and the greatest chopsticks of all time. No, for real. Check this out:

BAM! Lightsaber chopsticks.

Aren’t they cool? I love Tokyu Hands.

As I’ve said a couple of times, everything was really crazy, so I ended up just going into the McDonald’s next to Ikebukuro Station and getting a cheap lunch. With coffee. Incidentally, when I’m busy in a good way, doing a lot of things I want to do, I can forget to eat. I ate dinner at Katherine’s Friday night and didn’t eat again till after 2:00 Saturday afternoon. Not because I couldn’t, but because I wasn’t hungry enough to go out of my way to do it. But finally I realized that I needed to, so McDonald’s it was. Sometimes you just go with what’s cheap and quick and easy.

I could have called it a day after Ikebukuro, because I’d only really planned for those two wards, but then it occurred to me that I hadn’t been to Shibuya since 2008 and I decided I wanted to bop around looking at clothes. So it was back to the Yamanote Line and then on my way to another part of Tokyo to finish off my Saturday.

I went to 109, which is the big clothing department store for women. And I did end up buying a couple of things (remember that spending too much money thing I mentioned?). But what was really cool was what was happening in front of the doors to 109.

Two maiko dancing.

Yes, it was a little performance – two maiko (apprentice geisha) dancing. From what I understood, it was a ploy to get tourism up in Asakasa, but they were the real thing and it was pretty awesome. I watched for a few minutes, then left when the dance ended and they offered to let people get photos taken with the girls. It was cold and wet and crowded and I just wasn’t down for joining the throng. I love moments like that, though, when you stumble across things that make you go “wow, I’m in Japan” in random places with no warning.

And that was it for Saturday! I went back to my hotel and just hung out being warm, using the free internet, and then going to bed pretty early because I’d been running around battling crowds all day. I had a 10:50 train back to Okayama, so I wanted to get up early enough to grab something to eat and not have to rush.

A quiet morning in Ueno.

Since it was mid-morning on a Sunday, the trains weren’t very full and I had a nice, easy time getting to Tokyo Station and up to the shinkansen platform. I had a window seat with a business man eating McDonald’s next to me and that was it. Back to Matsuyama with normal life ahead of me.

Mt. Fuji from the shinkansen.

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6 thoughts on “Tokyo Getaway: Part Two

  1. Sounds like quite the whirlwind adventure! I am sorry you spent too much money, but glad you had a lot of fun. I wish those chopsticks glowed, that would be the absolute best! Oh well, they are really cool despite not glowing.

    I look forward to reading more about your life in Japan!

  2. This was an interesting entry and I particularly like looking at the photos. Is Ikebukuro station always that crowded? The other picture of Ikebukuro looks a bit more manageable! Mariel and I are very exited looking forward to our great Japan adventure.

    • Yeah, Ikebukuro Station is always that crowded. It’s the second busiest station in Japan, after Shinjuku, which makes it one of the busiest in the world.

      The street in the second Ikebukuro picture (the one you can kind of see down, going towards the tall buildings), by the way? Is the street the hotel is on.

    • It was National Foundation Day. Japan has almost 20 national holidays (some kind of random, like Marine Day, and some very Japanese, like the Emperor’s Birthday), so there are a lot of three-day weekends.

      I should do a blog post about Japanese holidays at some point.

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