Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Day 3 - Senso-Ji and Odaiba (Monday)

We had a late start and decided to visit Senso-ji in the Asakusa district. Actually our first choice was to visit Ueno Park and its many attractions but we did not pay attention to the fact that most of the museums were closed on Mondays. (Deduct one star in the planning department)

It was cloudy when we left the hotel and when we got to Asakusa (Ginza line - G19) it started to rain so eventually we had to buy a couple of umbrellas (I brought my rain coat with me after checking the weather forecast. Add one star in the planning column). While the Senso-ji complex is located in a rather small area, there are many small buildings in it and we spent around 4h in there. This includes shopping time which is mandatory when traveling with my wife.

It was our first stop in a religious location but it really felt more like a tourist attraction. Anyway, it is one of those mandatory stops. By the way, I will not try to describe the attractions in details as my objective is not to replace guide books. Especially because I am sure I would end up missing in accuracy and details (not to mention that it would make this report way too long).

We were going to follow the recommendation of the Fodor's guide and have lunch at the Tempura place along the Asakusa avenue (Aoi-Marushin) but it just so happened that they were closed for maintenance that day (no points deducted - they were supposed to be open). Plan B was to head back to the Asakusa information center where the gentleman who talked to us suggested we try the restaurant across the street (Santei, the first on the right of the Kamanari-Mon). The food was OK (we ordered two tempura dishes) and the prices seemed right at 3120 Yen. But we also had in the back of our minds an advice from a friend: Never trust a restaurant in which the waitresses are wearing kimonos.

After that, our party split again. My wife decided to go to Kappabashi Dori, a street 4-5 blocks from the Tawaramachi station (G18). This is a restaurateur/chef's heaven as they are specialized in cookware and other restaurant related goods. Definitely not for me or my daughter. So we headed to the Tokyo station where I needed to get my actual JR pass.

JR Pass Exchange
One word of advice: If you can, do the exchange upon your arrival at Narita. I don't know how convenient it us to go from the arrival area to the exchange office there but I can tell you I spent at least 1h30 just to get mine at Tokyo station. The JR exchange office is located in the Yaesu "area" which is a long walk from the subway station. We had to go through a few connectors, spent some valuable time stopping by wrong "green windows" and crossed an underground shopping area to finally get there. While the line at the ticket office was small, the exchange process itself took around 30 min.

I decided to go with my daughter to Odaiba so that she could have some fun and hopefully escape from the bad weather that we experienced in the North side of Tokyo. In order to get there we had to go back to the Ginza station, change to the Ginza Line, stop at the Shimbashi station and then walk to the annex station to take the Yurikamome line. Odaiba is located on the bay and it was quite a nice ride with a good view of the city and the bay since all the ride was made on an elevated track. I chose to stop at the Telecom Center station to get to the Miraikan museum (National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation). While the Fodor’s guide says that the museum closes at 7:00PM, it failed to mention that the deadline to enter the museum is 4:30PM. Major disappointment! Thank God I chose to buy the unlimited pass (800 Yen for adults and 400 Yen for child - The guide book said it was 1000 Yen for an adult).

So we ended up going to the entertainment area called Venus Fort (Aomi station) where we met with my wife (she went back to our hotel once to drop her shopping from Kappabashi). One of the main attractions in this place is the giant Ferris wheel, and they also feature a few other things like Toyota's showroom, Toyota's test drive (the sign said that you needed to have either a Japanese or an international driver’s license. Since I did not have either one, I did not even bother registering for the test drive), a ride in Toyota's automated car (the car makes turns, accelerates and breaks by itself, granted it does not go past 10 kph in a closed track), a pet store, a game room with lots of coin operated machines and even a display of old cars which included an F1 race car (drivers were Mika Salo and Alan McNish). Once again, we stayed out until 'late' (10PM) so we were exhausted in our return from Odaiba back to Shinjuku. Time to shower and crash...


Blogger said...

Rain Coat = Capa da Disney??
Ta faltando fotos!! entao to imaginando aquele pessoa caminhando na ponta dos pés.. com sua capa fashion amarela.. hahahaha

Shigueo said...

Não foi capa da Disney, não. Eu tenho uma que é de gente "séria" mesmo. A chefa proibiu de levar as da Disney.