Just a quick list of what we did, where we stayed, yadda, yadda, yadda. Admittedly, I’m not nuts about itinerary recaps or maybe I’m just Trip Advisored out, but its helpful to others and boy do we owe paying it forward.
We booked a small apartment on flipkey: http://www.flipkey.com/tokyo-condo-rentals/p226889/ This was not fancy by any stretch but adequate and good set up for a small family with 2 bedrooms & a small pullout couch. Plus a portable wifi, which is a saving grace when you think you know how to get where you’re going but really don’t! The apartment was 3 metro stops to Shibuya and we liked being in a quiet neighborhood vs the craziness of the tourist destinations.
Day 1: Meiji Shrine, Harajuku, Arcade Fun
Day 2: Museum of Emerging Technology & Science — wow, this is an impressive museum…great interactive learning for tweens and teens
Day 3: Chill day…went to see the lights of Shibuya at night
Day 4: Kamakura (see previous post)
Day 5: We took a tour with Backstreet Guides, http://www.thebackstreetguides.com, to be able to see more then we could manage on our own. It was a splurge but worth it. Our guide, Rei, was wonderful. We visited the Tsukiji fish market, Sensoji temple, Nakamise dori shopping street, the Sky Tree, Akihabara (electronics district and home of the bizarro maid cafes), and the old district of Yanaka. Along the way we sampled sushi (highlight!), went on a rickshaw ride and had a traditional soba noodle lunch.
Day 6: The boys caught up with football (go Seahawks!) while the girls checked out Shibuya 109, 9-stories of stores dedicated to the fashionable young lady (I stood out…and not in a good way…in my frumpy ex-officio outfit).
Day 7: Bullet train to Kyoto
Wifi / SIM Card: It’s best to arrange this at the airport when you arrive. I didn’t realize that and so we didn’t! Fortunately, I found http://www.Japan-wireless.com online — they deliver SIM cards and wireless routers for rental directly to your hotel. At the end of your trip, you pop the router into a prepaid envelope. Voila! So far its working great.
Tokyo was a great transition week. There were highs and lows as we adjusted but on the whole the city felt easy to navigate. We have many positive first impressions of the culture and the people — there’s a level of service, graciousness and respect that is rare in the U.S. That said, there is also an undercurrent of something else hard to put a finger on…perhaps a steadiness that lacks joy. It’s too soon for us to really comment and even when when we do, it will be from a meager five week perspective. We are simply grateful to be here.
Now it’s onward to Kyoto where homeschooling begins…a whole new adventure!