We started the morning fairly early, which is to be expected with the time change. Erin had a few false starts, waking up a few times in the middle of the night, but we finally got squared away and headed out for the day.
3- Imperial Grounds
4- Tokyo Station
The first stop was to get a PASMO card to make riding the metro easier. This, like all our subway-ing so far, was effortless. Oh and speaking of Subways, yes you can get a 500¥ foot long here, so long as you want favorites like Salmon and Marscipone…no Turkey in sight.
We rode the Hibiya line, transferred to the Toei Ōedo line, and rode it the Asakusa area in Eastern Tokyo. Asakusa is home to Sensō-ji which is a giant Buddhist temple in the city built to enshrine a tiny image of the god of mercy (say that in a Jamaican accent), Kannon.
The grounds were cool, you know statues and gold things and what not. The area was made most interesting by the front approach to the temple; a long foot street flanked by shops that you might actually want to buy something from. The street, Nakamise-dōri, was lively and I bought a cherry filled, leaf wrapped, tempura fried dumpling thing which was like woah.
We walked around the area a bit and eventually got back on the metro ad took it over to the north end of the grounds of the Imperial Palace in Central Tokyo. We emerged from the subway on the bottom if a long ramping park gaurded by the country’s largest torii gates. As far as I can tell the park, and the controversial shrine inside are both called Yasukuni. This area is “controversial” due to its enshrinement of Japan’s military past, WW2 generals and Kamakazi pilots and all. Personally I don’t understand the controversy, but I’m not Japanese so it doesn’t really matter what I think. Whatever it’s history (which I actually know, but you can look it up), this day the grounds were host to a community garage sale, so we quickly breezed through.
We crossed Yasukuni-dōri and entered into Kitanimaru-Kōen, a park area dominated by the Octagonal Budōkan Hall. Breezing through to the other side, we found ourselves in the eastern portion of the Imperial Grounds (no one is allowed in the western portion) called Higashi Gyoen. This area has a wide green space fronted by the remnants of the old donjon (castle). Many people were out having a picnic in the grass, so stopped and sat awhile before pressing on.
We walked from here through the financial district that borders the Imperial grounds to the east and ended up at Tokyo Station. We had heard of a good restaurant to have Tempura at, and it was housed here. Hilarity ensued.
The restaurant was called Tsunahachi. We plugged it into Google Maps for walking and started heading that way. We entered through the giant glass front doors of Tokyo station and following the blinking blue dot towards the back of the complex. Then we followed it to the front of the complex. Into a department store, around a food court, and even by some elevators that may or may not have actually existed. Finally we were on the right track and went up a stair well and popped out in……oh crap, we are back at the big glass front doors. We’d seen a sign that said the place was on the 12th floor (which was hard enough to discover since the name of the place was was written in a combination of kanji and Hiragana and I don’t know those) but we couldn’t find any place with a twelfth floor. For an hour. We really wanted Tempura. Finally we realized that the place we saw the sign was just out side the department store housed in the station and that perhaps the restaurant was in their. Sure enough, the department store was 12 stories and on the 12th was our place.
The tempura set was pretty good. There were prawns, shrimp, fish, octopus, and eel served with a dipping sauce (for fish only), some kind of sour kraut like thing, a cup of miso soup, rice, pickled something or another, 4 types of salt toppings (including wasabi) an probably a few other things. I actually wish I knew what each thing was so I could tell but no one spoke English, so what can you do.
We pretty much just eyed other people and copied what they did and hoped they weren’t rude jerks. More than once a server would come over and show us what to put on what, or what not to…she cringed when I dipped the prawn in the sauce.
After lunch we got back on the metro and headed back to Roppongi for a break. We’re still a bit jet lagged so by the afternoon we’re ready for a nap. We bought a few beers and kicked it until around 6.