Saturday, July 20, 2013

Japan 2013: Afternoon in Ueno

It really feels like the end of the trip, sigh. We're all getting tired & sleeping later (which isn't a bad thing). I am happy that I don't seem to be losing my Japanese from exhaustion, which often happens. It's really good to be back to a familiar place, though.

We went back to Starbucks for breakfast- can't get enough of those soy matcha lattes! Neither can Beanie :)

Then we watched a little tv while Brendan showered:
The adverts really are a hoot! All the folks in the background are wearing "I Love Vietnam" t-shirts... why? The new Miyazaki movie, Kaze Tachinu, was released today, so there were all sorts of ads & specials. & last evening we caught the last half of "The Cat Returns" on tv!

After consulting & planning with friends here, the plan was to visit the Museum of Modern Art in Ueno (part of Tokyo) this afternoon. Tomorrow will be devoted to visiting & saying farewells. The art museum has a special exhibit of Mediterranean artifacts & artworks dating from 2000 years ago to the 1800's right now, all borrowed from the Louvre (translated into Japanese as "Roo-broo") in Paris.

While we were in Shinjuku Station we bought our tickets for the Narita Express Monday morning, for the trip back home. Then we hopped the Yamanote line to Ueno (the final day for our JR passes- I can hardly believe 2 weeks have passed!).

It was Saturday in Ueno Park & it was mobbed! There are loads of museums & a zoo here, so it wasn't surprising.
There were a few scattered folks (men & women) wearing kimono, which was cool to see.

The modern art museum had some cool modern sculpture outside as well:

The exhibit was really nice. It took 3 floors of space & walked you through history. The only weirdness for us was that, except for the big intros of each section, none of the exhibits were labeled in English. Just Japanese & French. I was able to piece things together, using my college French as an assist, but it was trickier that anticipated. We enjoyed it, though.

Sadly, the rest of the trip to Ueno was not as much fun. We had planned to have lunch there in one of the museum cafe's, but none of them (anywhere!) had anything resembling vegetarian food :( We bought some Mitsuya Ciders for the train to hold us over, then had to ride 20 minuted back to Shinjuku, then brave the Saturday crowds at Takashimaya to find lunch food. It was past 2:00 by the time we got back to the hotel & could eat.

Leaving Brendan to recover, Charlie & I braved the crowds once again to do some last-minute omiyage shopping. The escalators at Takashimaya were so crowded that folks were lining-up to get on them! But we were pleased with our shopping trip, & the day was much cooler than it's been in Tokyo the whole trip, so it was pleasant to be outside, too.

I had done some research & we thought it would be fun to walk a few blocks to the Isetan department store for dinner. There was what appeared to be a veggie-based restaurant there called Hatake (which is the word for a vegetable field).

The  other thing we had forgotten, was that this was not only Saturday evening, but the evening before a big election in Japan! The sidewalks were crowded, but also there were politicians in their vans circling the area in increasing numbers. There were also folks in kimono out on the streets of Shinjuku:
Here's the quite old (by Tokyo standards) Isetan store:
It turned out to be nigh impossible to find the darn restaurant! The store was a maze, & after wandering around a bit, I asked directions & they directed me to the right set of escalators to get to the B2 level,where the restaurant was. Everything looked fine, & they even had an English menu. So we didn't bother to ask about meat in anything... & there was meat in everything :( Brendan couldn't eat his spaghetti at all. We did have fun with the water glasses though- can you find Beanie in this picture?
So we went to the basement of Isetan & found Brendan some inarizushi, then hiked back to our hotel so he could finally eat. On the way there were some impressive political rallies. The biggest was for Suzuki Kan:
 There were police on hand & everything.

Ms. Momoyo's was smaller, but no less fervent :) (I couldn't find her on wikipedia).

We surfed the tv for more Miyazaki content, but nothing to be found, so we headed to bed.

Tomorrow, visiting friends!!

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