Shinjuku, the Senso-Ji Shrine, and the Imperial Palace
06.26.2016 - 06.26.2016 84 °F
Kon'nichiwa everyone! I know I've been a bit absent with the blog and I've left most of the responsibilities up to Justin, but I'm back and ready to write! Today was another fun filled adventure touring through Tokyo. I have been left to being our guide for most of the trip thus far, and today was no different. Our morning started off a little sluggishly when Justin and I woke up around 9:00 am. Similar to yesterday, Mom, Kyra, and Kuku were just about ready to walk out the door in search of some sweet treats to start their day when I made my way upstairs (Justin's already informed everyone of my dread for the trek to get from one floor to another, so I have to especially mentally debate whether I'm ready to go upstairs to get up and brush my teeth or stay in bed a bit longer). They ended up with mini waffles today! For Kuku, they seemed more like bite-size waffles though. While they were out for their morning stroll, Uncle and Lilly started their day off shopping in Ginza and Justin and I lounged around with Tutu to relax before another big day. Justin was working on finishing the blog post from the day before this morning, since we both fell asleep in the living room late last night and Justin couldn't find the energy to finish working at 3:00 a.m.
Mom, Kyra, and Kuku brought some pastries yummy pastries back for us homebodies and, soon enough, we started our next adventure! We all thought it would be fun to go back to Shinjuku during the daytime since we got lost in the nighttime hustle last night. Navigating the subway seemed even more straightforward today after Kuku showed me a helpful Tokyo Metro app he's been hiding from me! It allows you to plug in your starting and ending location and shows you all of the different ways that you can get there, including whether it involves any transfers or not. Quite handy! Once we arrived at Shinjuku Station we were immediately swept away in the flurry of people. On our way to street level we made a detour at Paul's, which is a French bakery chain that Justin and I visited in Paris (no trip is complete without multiple pitstops for sweets and coffee). When we finally reached street level, we made our way over to Bic Camera in search of a Fitbit for Kyra. Since we are walking miles upon miles every day, we thought Kyra should join in on the action and calculate her own personal steps. Navigating the 5 story Bic Camera store was so much of a sensory overload I thought we were all going to go into shock! There were electronics everywhere, practically anything you would ever need electronic-wise. We finally stumbled upon the Fitbits and quickly realized that it was much cheaper to purchase in the US, so we decided to hold of on a purchase and puruse our next mission: finding lunch.
We stumbled through the maze of crowds and stores surrounding Shinjuku for a half hour or so before eventually finding a delightful ramen shop! This particular shop again had the machine preorder that we are now accustomed to. We all quickly decided on which ramen we wanted and ordered a few Asahi beers in icy mugs to accompany our steaming soups. This ramen definitely did not disappoint! Our chatter decreased as we all devoured our delectable noodles and frosty beverages. We all took a moment to digest and game plan the rest of our day. Since Justin, Mom, Kyra, and I are heading to Tokyo Disney tomorrow (we figured we should keep our international Disney streak running), we wanted to plan out what sites the four of us wanted to see today. Justin and I thought it would be fun for all of us to visit Senso-Ji Shrine and the Imperial Palace because both can be seen in one day without too much trouble. Also, now that we have our 72 hour metro pass, we're all feeling footloose and fancy free when it comes to the public transportation.
Justin and I knew that our first stop at Senso-Ji Shrine was going to be hectic, but I think both of us forgot how insanely chaotic it is to visit such a large and popular shrine in such a densely populated area. Immediately upon exiting our metro car we were slammed with a mass of bodies. We carefully navigated our way through the swarm, slowly making our way to the shrine. There were also tons of small souvenir and food stalls leading up to the shrine, making it even more crowded! We waddled like ducks following in a line until we reached some very small open space to breath. The shrine was beautiful and vibrant, but obviously a much different experience than Meiji. There were a few times I looked behind me and only saw Kuku's head above the crowd and thought we lost Tutu! We were all feeling the heat and sheer chaos with the shrine, so our visit was brief, but we made sure to keep our sweets tour alive with a stop for some refreshing dessert. Justin and I found a mango soft serve ice cream cone; Kyra, Kuku, and Tutu found matcha and vanilla ice cream cones; and Mom found what was literally called "snow," which was some sort of frozen treat very closely related to shaved ice.
Once we all started to cool down we decided it'd be best to head to our next destination in hopes of getting away from some of the crowds. I lead everyone back to the metro and we started our journey to the Imperial Palace. The metro ride was smooth and relaxing for us to get a chance to rest our feet. On the way to the Imperial palace, we walked by a delicious looking pastry place again. Kuku really wanted to stop for some pastries and a coffee (it had been several hours at this point since he had one). We tried to talk him out of it by saying we could stop at a place after we saw the Imperial palace so that we wouldn't have to carry the items. However, once Kuku asked if we would go to a pastry shop that looked as good as this one did, we knew it was time for a quick pit-stop. Justin and Kuku both got latte's while we each picked out a sweet treat. After the quick stop, we were back on our way once more!
Finding the Imperial Palace, or rather the East Imperial Gardens, was even easier. Justin and I must have visited a different side of the large Palace/Gardens because we were only allowed to walk around the area we saw last time. This time we found an entrance in which we could tour the actual gardens. Immediately upon entering the gardens we stumbled upon Uncle and Lilly by complete chance. We spent a few minutes sharing stories from our day and they informed us they randomly followed people and ended up seeing a Japanese baseball game! It sounded awesome! We all walked around the gardens together, but our pace definitely started to slow down at this point. The heat seemed to increase and the sun started to peek out more as the day went on. After our leisurely stroll through the immaculate gardens I once again led us back to the metro. This time we took the "Mita" line, which I found to be hilarious because one of my oldest friend's name is Mita!
We were all ecstatic to arrive back at our apartment to have a relaxing siesta. Most people napped, but I stayed up this time to read my book that I'm now obsessed with (it's called Me Before You in case anyone is wondering), and Justin started to look up Tokyo Disney. Tonight was a yoyo (you're on your own) night for dinner, which meant that everyone planned something different for food. Uncle and Lilly found a ramen place since they didn't get their noodle fix earlier in the day, while everyone else ate snacks around the house. Justin and I went for a late night walk to find some chicken katsu, rice, gyoza, and sushi. The two of us strolled around the city for about an hour before we thought it was time to head back and enjoy our feast together. He was an adventurous eater tonight with his sushi. Justin ate what looked like a mini octopus and some sort of squid. His sushi tray went from "adventurous" to "standard," finishing with some tuna and salmon. We've both just finished our meals and I think we're both feeling sticky and tired from the muggy day. It's time for me to finish my book and for Justin to plan out our Disney trip tomorrow (Mom and Kyra haven't experienced Disney with Justin, so it should be quite the adventure!). We need to rest up for the long day tomorrow!
Total Steps: 17,292
Total Distance Walked: 8.42 miles
Many more stories and pictures to come!! Oyasumi (Goodnight)!!
Kaela and Justin
The Senso-Ji Shrine!
Walking around the Senso-Ji Shrine.
Walking around Tokyo!
A cool shopping center we passed by.
Where we got our delicious coffee and pastries! Kuku couldn't pass this place without trying it.
The Imperial Palace.
Our ramen lunch!
Kuku's tiny waffles!