Japan Trip Day 4 - 2013-07-30

Today we decided to focus a bit more on a single area, since yesterday we spent a lot of time travelling on the subway between different spots. We found a neat Tokyo guide app by Trip Advisor that had a few built-in walking tours, so we decided to try one of those and explore the area around Tokyo Imperial Palace!

As we were making our way to the starting point of the tour at Otemachi Station, we couldn't resist some vending machine ice cream!

The first stop on the tour was Kokyo Higashi Koen, the East Gardens of the Imperial Palace. Even though it was overcast, it was quite hot and humid as we were walking around, it would have been quite unpleasant if it were a sunny day! The gardens were pretty neat, with nicely manicured trees lining large walls to protect the palace.

Next we went to the Museum of Imperial Collections, which apparently has over 6,000 pieces of art in their collection. Somewhat oddly, the only thing they had on display was a number of different robes worn by the emperor of Japan as a child. They were quite impressive and ornate, though it would have been nice to see a bit more of the collection!

We hiked through the area around the Imperial Palace, which had some nice little paths through the gardens, before arriving at our next stop, The National Museum of Modern Art Tokyo.

I was expecting more avante-garde art at this museum, but it actually mainly contains paintings and sculpture from the 20th century that are more traditional. Kellian informed me that modern art is actually art from a particular period of time (1860s to 1970s), what I was thinking of is contemporary art. There was one pretty amusing contemporary exhibit: it was a video of folks rushing around the museum carrying cardboard boxes, arranging them in various ways frantically. Hard to describe, but pretty funny to watch!

At this point we were running out of steam a bit, it was around 1:30 and we hadn't eaten, so we decided to bail on the walking tour and find some food. There were some more cool paths through the park that we followed.

When we emerged from this area, we stumbled upon a big crowd of people, with a bunch of kids warming up with Kendo swords in front of Nippon Budokan (a martial arts arena). It turns out there was a huge tournament in progress! We went inside and watched for a bit, it was fun watching these kids wailing on each other with bamboo swords, though we weren't quite sure how the point scoring worked.

After watching for a bit, we grabbed some lunch and decided to head to Ueno (along the way to our hotel), where we checked out a pedestrian market area with all sorts of shops. There is a large park in Ueno that we were thinking of walking across, but we were pretty tired at this point so we decided to head back to the hotel and rest for a bit.

Back on Saturday, we got a tip from a woman sitting next to us on the train that there was an excellent restaurant that specializes in tofu near where we were staying. Since Kellian is a vegetarian, we were pretty psyched to check it out! They had a 9 course menu where every course features some variation on tofu, ending with tofu ice cream and plum jelly for dessert!

It might sound/look odd, but it was all actually very tasty, and quite varied considering it was all tofu! Definitely worth checking out if you are a vegetarian (or like tofu) and are visiting Tokyo.

Stuffed full of tofu, we headed back to the hotel for a bit. We saw that a band was playing on the local swing dance calender and went to check that out, but it had a $20 cover and no room to dance, so we decided to skip it once we got there. Besides, we were pretty exhausted from a long day!

Tomorrow, we head to Nikko!


Janet Pletcher said...

Hi B & K
Got your day 4 blog while at Grandma's so read / showed her your photos, she loved seeing you both.
Would love to see some pix of your hotel before you head to Nico.
Have fun! SDP

Christine Crivello said...

Hi guys, i'm with Janet, would love to see some hotel pictures. You look like your having lots of fun. Thanks for the Blogs. Chris & Chris

Brian Pletcher said...

Oh yeah, I keep meaning to take photos of the hotel room! I'll get a few pictures once we have our luggage packed up today.

Janet Pletcher said...

Looking forward to hearing about Nikko. My friend Janis loved it there. Safe travels and have fun exploring Nikko