If I were really cruel, and let’s face it, my nickname isn’t Cruella DeVille due to the grey streak down the center of my fluffy tail, we’d start Day 6 of our tour with a traditional Japanese breakfast with something many natives adore- Natto on rice:
A very traditional dish started by composting soybeans and bacteria until it achieves a slimy consistency similar to that of cooked okra. Together they ferment happily to form a union whose blissful marriage is complete when a pungent aroma is released that wreaks havoc upon the olfactory glands while at the same time delivering a pugnacious punch to the paunch causing many to sprint for the bathroom, that is, unless one happens to be Japanese or of a ferrous constitution. I am one of the few non- Japanese that will actually partake of Natto, however, only when feeling particularly homesick for Southern food like okra and fried green tomatoes. But- one packet of Natto can kill a tour dead in its tracks so instead of starting with a light breakfast of Natto, I’ll save my Cruella tricks for another day. Everyone gets to sleep late, have breakfast on their own, after which we will begin with our first stop for Day 6 in the Ginza District of Tokyo, promptly at 9:55 in front of Mitsukoshi Department Store.
Promptly at 10:00, all the uniformed employees of Mitsukoshi, line up at the front doors, bow, and ceremoniously welcome the customers in to this upscale department store. At this point, our tour storms the building Navy Seal style and heads down to the basement for another very Japanese phenomenom- the food basement. Day 6- Ginza, Mitsukoshi Department Store, Akihabara, Tokyo Tower, Koishikawa Korakuen Garden –Nestled in the very bottom of most department stores in Japan, is a floor filled with food. Picture taking isn’t allowed in Mitsukoshi, however, not wanting to deprive my virtual tour goers of this wondrous site, I brought along the “fanny pack cam” which I recommend for all department store commando invasions such as these. The pictures don’t do the sweets and offerings justice, but, one gets a sense for the variety and diversity of fare. Orderly lines, cordoned off and managed by kerchiffed wearing matrons direct patrons to the counters containing items in high demand. All the big names in fashion and jewelry have a flag ship store in Ginza as the Beautiful People come in from the East to buy what is guaranteed to be the Real thing. Sauntering around Ginza’s back streets shopping with the creme de la creme, blissfully fingering Mikimoto pearls while “oohing and aahing” over a centenarian aged bonsai would send the teenagers in the group into full out rebellion, so once the locusts have swarmed through the basement and eaten everything edible, it’s wise to move along. The Tokyo Tower- In Central Tokyo close to Roppongi, looms what will soon become Tokyo’s second highest point, the Tokyo Tower. The bottom of the Tower houses an aquarium- yes- I know it’s strange- but true- and a currently a dinosaur exhibit- yes- even stranger. And right now, due to the earthquake, the very tip top of the tower is sporting a definite lean. But no matter, because to get one of the best views of Mt. Fuji you won’t have to scale that part. A trivia note for you- Mt. Fuji is called Fuji-san here. Just like a person’s name. Like Ouiser-san. All mountains are referred to as if they are people- hence Fuji-san. After soaking in the panaramic view of one of the largest cities in the world, let’s put in our ear plugs and head to the sheer chaos that is Akihabara. Or Electric town. If it’s electronic, or a game, one can find it here. I would rather spend an afternoon in a glass box covered in poisonous snakes. The pinging, popping, bell ringing and glass shattering bedlam of Electric town combined with the thousands of teenagers shopping, eyes fixed on the game currently being played as they shop, along with the lights-camera-action- of 250 shops all operating simultaneously at different frequencies infuses a player like 100 Red Bulls shot right in to the carotid artery.
Best to send in the game lovers while the belly button contemplaters in the group can enjoy the Koishikawa Korakuen Garden close by:
Day 7- Disney Sea, Ueno,
What to do? The last day…. A tough choice. Here I have two options.
Let out your inner child- the one that wanted to drink beer- and go to Disney Sea. Nothing like enjoying the Disney characters, with cirque de soleil, Japanese food, and beer.
On the northern side of Tokyo lies the Ueno Park area. Attached is a map outlining famous temples, museums, pagodas, gardens, and other historic and traditional sites. It will keep one entertained for at least a day.
However, the two most important reasons the Japanese will tell you to visit Ueno park are the newest residents to the Ueno zoo- the two panda cubs. Born in September.
As they say in showbiz- never follow a kid or animal- although I’m sure there are several reasons why. So- I’ll end the tour there with a promise of a couple more tidbits that I left out of the tour for the next two posts.
As I said before, Tokyo is home to countless museums, galleries and historical sites of which books and guides cover in thorough detail. I have barely begun to scratch the surface.
Emiel van den Boomen from posted a picture of himself with one of the very elusive geisha in the comments section of the last post which I’d encourage you to check out. I would love to hear your comments and suggestions on sites you loved in Japan and any good pictures you’d like to share if so inclined… In the meantime, a few things left out- for next time….