Monday, June 29, 2009

Our day in Tokyo

We got to the hotel around 5p, it was a quick, easy drive, no traffic at all. Ethan was so excited to be at the Sanno, he loves it almost as much as I do! I had planned for us to go out for some dinner, but Ethan didn't want to leave the hotel! Not even when I tried to tempt him with McD's. He said "Let's stay here and have hotel dinner!" So that's what we did.

I didn't have any plans at all, it was really a spur-of-the-moment trip, so even if we hadn't left the hotel at all, that would have been fine. After b'fast the next morning, Ethan reluctantly headed out with me.

When we go to the New Sanno via the expressway (Shuto), just before we take the Meguro exit for the hotel, we pass this really cool looking area, it's a huge building w/ blue-green glass and what looks to be a garden out front, with an outdoor escalator running up the middle. We're usually going about 90 kmh, and I'm usually the one driving, so I've never gotten a really good look at the area, but it's always looked so pretty. The bad thing about expressways in Japan is that the exits are very few and far between, we're talking miles between some exits, so if you pass something you'd like to see, it's not as simple as getting off at the next exit to check it out. Plus, the expressways are evelvated, sometimes as high as 3 stories above the city streets, so you actually have no idea what's under you, no way to easily pick out landmarks to help you find your way back, so I couldn't tell if the building and garden were on a street, if so, which street, or in the middle of a block. And it's really difficult to tell what part of the city you're in as you sail along the highway, are we in Komiyacho? Nihonbashi? Azabu?

Anyway, the last time I drove that route, I caught a glimpse of a sign near the garden: Hotel Villa Fountaine. I googled it and was discouraged to find that there were about 14 different branches of that hotel in Tokyo! Grrrrrrr! But this point, I was determined to find that garden! So I broke out all my Tokyo maps and starting eliminating places that didn't match up with the vague idea I had of where the hotel was located. I finally narrowed it down to Roppongi, more specifically Roppongi-Itchome. Turns out the building/garden is called Izumi Gardens. I had plotted the route we would take to get there, so that's where we headed when we left the Sanno. There was absolutely no point to this adventure, just a chance to explore a little bit more of Tokyo. It's exactly the type of thing O hates to do: wander around with no clear plan, to places we've never been and aren't sure how to get to, for no reason, but it's exactly the type of thing I LOVE to do, so this was the perfect chance to do it!

The Roppongi-Itchome subway station is in the basement of the Izumi Garden building, and you exit into a cute little courtyard, then take a series of 5 - 6 escalators up through the garden to the street level, it's called an "urban corridor". It was really pretty, and despite being directly off the expressway, very peaceful and quiet. We followed the sidewalk through the garden and crossed the street where we found Shiroyama Garden! What a nice surprise! I absolutely looooooovvvveeee gardens tucked away in the heart of a big city. It's like a little green oasis in the middle of all the gray. I especially love the small ones, it always feels like you've stumbled into someone's secrect garden....yeah, I'm a cornball. This garden was so perfect, exactly what I love! I could have stayed there all day, tucked away from all the hustle and bustle, maybe with a yummy coffee and a good book......but not this time. We strolled around for awhile, enjoying the coolness and exploring all the little nooks and crannies, then headed off in search of another subway station to continue on towards Tokyo Station.

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We ended up walking about 10 blocks, making a scenic, winding path to Roppongi station. I could wander around the city all day! I love Tokyo so much! We passed pretty close to Tokyo Tower. Ethan absolutely adores TT! No matter how many times we go there, or how many times he sees it, it's always like the first time. He never gets tired of it.

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We got to Tokyo station around 12:30 and bought tickets for the 14:00 Sky Bus tour. We've never done it before, and Ethan loves riding buses, so I thought it'd fun. Since we had about 1.5hrs to kill, we wandered around the basements of the Mistubishi and Marunochi buildings, where there are all kinds of shops and restaurants. We stopped in at Cold Stone Creamery, only our second visit ever, our first ever in Japan. It was super yummy, but really expensive, Y1000 for two cups of the smallest size!

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We loaded on to the bus promptly at 14:00, surprisingly, we were the only Westerners on board, everyone else appeared to be Japanese! Ethan was in heaven riding up high on top of the bus, with no roof, but it was a bit of a disappointment to me. It was nice to see the city from such a different perspective, but we really didn't see much of interest. The ride was 1 hour long and took us around the Imperial Palace, and down Chuo Dori through Ginza, that was about it! Bummer. But I'm glad we did it, only cost Y1500 for the two of us, so that wasn't too bad, and E really did enjoy himself. I wish they had the "jump on and off" double decker buses that circle the whole city, I've ridden them in Singapore, London and NYC, it's such a great way to get around and really see the city!

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The front of Tokyo Station. They're doing major renovations in and around the station.

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A bridge at the palace.

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Heading down Chuo-dori in Ginza

And Ethan's favorite part? Pulling up next a garbage truck! He even begged me to take a picture!

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Ethan as we pulled up in front of our house.

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It was a really fun day, I swear I could go in to Tokyo everyday and never get tired of it! I've made reservations at the N.S. for 3 days, for my b-day next month. Me, E and my neighbor w/ her four kids. Both our hubs will be gone, so we figured we take the kids to Tokyo. We're planning to go to Odaiba to see the giant Gundam robot (meant to go this trip, but didn't make it) and for a b-day dinner at Kui 'Aina. Yumm-o!

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4 comments:

tokyo5 said...

Thanks for the link to my site in this post!

Yeah, you should definitely see the Gundam robot before they take it down on 31 August! Especially since you have a son...I'm sure he'll like it.
Also, you can have a BBQ in that park...they rent everything you need. Even the food!
(But I guess you're looking forward to the Hawaiian restaurant there).

gigihawaii said...

Oooo, Brenda, I am so envious! I,too, love Tokyo. We spent just 3 nights there last year and I thought we'd seen all the major sights, but your post now whets my appetite to see even more!

Slime said...

Tokyo5 - Ethan is very excited about seeing the robot, he asks me to pull up your post so he can look at the pictures!

Gigi - Oh no! 3 days in Tokyo could *never* be enough, you definitely have to come back! That's why I hate visiting places as a tourist! You have to live in a place to get the whole experience and learn about all the really good stuff! Hub just doesn't understand my thinking, but there's just so much to see and do no matter where you go, there's never enough time!

Come to Tokyo anytime! We can put you up for cheap on the base, and I'd love to be your guide!

Robin Vistnes said...

It was so funny that as I read your blog, I had already commented on FB that I thought it felt like those gardens could be someone's back yard. Sounds like you had a great time- doing some mommy time with E!
R