Sunday, June 9, 2013

Last stop: Tokyo

I was still nursing some gastro troubles for our time in Tokyo, so we didn’t get to explore as much as we had hoped. But even with 6 months in Tokyo alone, it would still be difficult to explore it all. It’s big. The biggest city in the world by many counts. But for such a massive city, it doesn’t feel as overwhelming as you might expect, with so many spacious parks and temples and gardens. And it’s so clean! I’m pretty sure the streets of Tokyo are cleaner than some of the guesthouses we encountered earlier in our travels.

We wandered around Ueno Park, Asakusa, Shibuya, Ginza, and of course Shinjuku where our hotel was. We also went to a cat café! I can’t remember where I heard about this phenomenon, and I thought there was only one, but apparently there’s almost 40 of them throughout the city! Black cats, fat cats, or just a random assortment of cats – I know you probably all think I’m a crazy cat lady now, and you’re right, but it was a fun and unique experience. Only in Tokyo.

Also, before I wrap up my posts about Japan, there are three things about Japan that need mentioning: vending machines, toilets, and school kids.

(1) Vending machines – they are everywhere! Even in the quietest town (like Koyasan), they seem to be spaced at frequent intervals for all your beverage needs. You can get the typical selection of cold beverages (pops, iced teas, juices), but some vending machines also issue hot beverages. Yup, you can get hot canned coffee. It’s pretty cool. I mean hot. Good. Excellent. And there’s always a recycling bin right beside it for the empties.

(2) Toilets – the Japanese have perfected the bathroom experience; no consideration has been left out. Cold tushie? No problem: heated seats. Stage-fright? No worries: complimentary flushing sound or music. Ever feel that unfresh feeling? The Japanese have got you covered: your choice of bidet or spray functions – all of which have temperature and directional control.

(3) School Kids – in every city it seems to be Field Trip Day. Which also means Interview The Foreigners And Practice Your English Day. In Nara alone, we were approached by no less than seven groups of kids, all with varying degrees of confidence in their English skills. It’s generally the same series of questions: where are you from, what is your name, do you like [city name], what Japanese food do you like, etc, etc. Then they may ask for your signature, but will always, always ask for a photo. They are all impeccably polite, and adorable, and you might just get a little origami gift for your time.

The red or blue label above the price indicates if it will come out hot or cold.

Feeding the sparrows.

Entering the Chef Supply part of Tokyo.

At the Cat Cafe! With the biggest cat I've ever seen.

Come on! Could those ears be any cuter?!

Squishy face cat.

Outer moat of the Imperial Palace grounds.

LAST DAY    :(

Like a sun-dappled Renoir painting.

In so many words...


Parenting is tough, at any time of year.

It IS fine day.


  1. Everything I hear about Japan makes me like it more and more!
    And now there are cat cafés too! I must go!
    That is a HUGE cat you're sitting beside on the floor!

  2. Love it!
    I can't believe I missed the cat cafes when I was there!