On Father's Day, I tried to plan something that we could do with The Hubs, since he was off of work that day. He had just run the Tokyo Warrior Dash the day before, so we didn't have anything extravagant planned because he was a wee bit tired. We settled on a small trip to Yokohama and while I was getting ready, The Hubs came to me and said, "Why don't you just leave the girls with me and take your mom to Tokyo? I just feel like having a laid-back day at home." Huh?! He didn't have to tell me twice! Happy Father's Day to me!
I knew that this would be the only opportunity for my mom and I to tackle some things without the kids, so I tried to pack a lot in our day. We decided to hit the following, in this order: Shibuya Station (large, famous pedestrian crossing) and the Hachi memorial statue, Meiji shrine, Shinjuku station and the Alice in Wonderland-themed restaurant for lunch, and the Asakusa area before heading back home. It may not sound like much, but Tokyo is HUGE, so we covered a lot of ground.
First up: Shibuya Station. We exited the station and headed for the Starbucks across the street where visitors have a good view of the huge intersection below. From Wikipedia: "Shibuya is famous for its scramble crossing. It is located in front of the Shibuya Station Hachikō exit and stops vehicles in all directions to allow pedestrians to inundate the entire intersection.[...] Three large TV screens mounted on nearby buildings overlook the crossing, as well as many advertising signs. The Starbucks store overlooking the crossing is also one of the busiest in the world. Its heavy traffic and inundation of advertising has led to it being compared to the Times Square intersection in New York City."
After grabbing a snack at Starbucks, we headed back across the street to visit the Hachi statue before moving on. Again, from Wikipedia: "One of the best-known stories concerning Shibuya is the story of Hachikō, a dog who waited on his late master at Shibuya Station every day from 1923 to 1935, eventually becoming a national celebrity for his loyalty. A statue of Hachikō was built adjacent to the station, and the surrounding Hachikō Square is now the most popular meeting point in the area."
Just a couple of train stops away was the Meiji Shrine, dedicated to the deified spirits of Emperor Meiji and his wife, Emperess Shoken. From Wikiepedia: "Meiji Shrine is located in a forest that covers an area of 700,000 square-meters (about 175 acres). This area is covered by an evergreen forest that consists of 120,000 trees of 365 different species, which were donated by people from all parts of Japan when the shrine was established. The forest is visited by many as a recreation and relaxation area in the center of Tokyo." Construction of the shrine began in 1915 and was finished in 1921. It was destroyed in air raids during WWII, but was rebuilt in 1958. It was a beautiful oasis in the middle of busy Tokyo.
|A wedding procession!|
|The Shinto priest and the bride and groom.|
For lunch, we hopped on a train to Shinjuku to find the Alice in Wonderland restaurant I'd heard about. After a bit of searching, and asking some lovely ladies at the "Information" booth in a mall, we finally found in the basement of a shopping center. It was great! And I think it deserves another blog post of it's own in case others might want to go.
After lunch, we jumped on another train to ride over to Asakusa. From Japan-Guide: "Asakusa is the center of Tokyo's shitamachi (literally "low city"), one of Tokyo's districts, where an atmosphere of the Tokyo of past decades survives. Asakusa's main attraction is Sensoji, a very popular Buddhist temple, built in the 7th century. The temple is approached via the Nakamise, a shopping street that has been providing temple visitors with a variety of traditional, local snacks and tourist souvenirs for centuries." It's also very close to the Tokyo Skytree, the tallest building in Japan, with observation decks for visitors.
|The Tokyo Skytree|
"Kaminarimon is the first of two large entrance gates leading to Sensoji Temple. First built more than 1000 years ago, it is the symbol of Asakusa. The Nakamise shopping street leads from Kaminarimon to the temple grounds." [Japan-Guide.com]
"Sensoji ("Senso" is an alternative reading for Asakusa and "ji" means temple) is Tokyo's most famous and popular temple. Built in the 7th century, it is also one of its oldest, although the current buildings are postwar reconstructions" [Japan-Guide.com]
"The legend says that in the year 628, two brothers fished a statue of Kannon, the goddess of mercy, out of the Sumida River, and even though they put the statue back into the river, it always returned to them. Consequently, Sensoji was built nearby for the goddess of Kannon. The temple was completed in 645, making it Tokyo's oldest temple." [Japan-Guide.com]
|It was beautiful! And very crowded!|
We were TIRED after all of our sightseeing. But not tired enough to pass on stopping by my favorite neighborhood bar on the way home. It's called "Beer Cafe Weh" and they make the absolute best gin and tonics. We also had some dinner while there. I think it's safe to say that my mom had a fabulous day.
I can't tell my husband thank-you enough for letting us have a day free of the kids. We NEVER would have been able to see so much if we had taken them with us. It was a lot of train riding and walking and I'm just SO thankful we had a day to tackle it all. I owe him.