Sunday, March 26, 2017

Japan 2017 Day 19: Last Full Day in Japan

We begin again with Starbucks & French pastries- why not?

Our plan for today was to meet our friend, Kae-san, for lunch at Takashimaya. It was raining pretty steadily & colder, today. We headed over the bridge to Takashimaya a bit early so we could do the last of our gift-shopping for folks at home. We met Kae at 11:00 & went to our favorite soba restaurant on the 13th floor.

Kae was introduced to us on our second trip to Japan, 8 years ago, by our friend & second Japanese teacher Shizuka. Kae is a veterinarian & did a fellowship year in Michigan a couple years ago. She visited Shizuka & her husband Jon in Rochester for New Years that year, and came to our house to celebrate. I was so glad we could see her again this trip!

I had nabe with mochi for lunch, one of my favorites!!

It was so much fun to catch up with Kae! We showed her photos of Brendan &, like many friends this trip, she was amazed by how grown-up he looks now :)

After our yummy lunch & fun reunion, we said good-bye to Kae (see you when we come back!!!) & went back to the hotel to drop our shopping off. We decided to visit an art museum not far away that Charlie & Brendan had visited 2 years ago, the Sompo Japan Nipponkoa Museum of Art. It is on the 42nd floor of an office building a few block from the west side of Shinjuku Station, & it's main claim to fame is Van Gogh's Sunflowers.

I mentioned it was rainy today, right? The intersections looked like umbrella cities as folks waited for the walk lights.

Charlie found the museum without any problem & after about 20 minutes walking in the rain, it was nice to go inside. Our ears popped in the elevator on the way to the 42nd floor. The view was pretty nifty, though.

We were lucky to find not only Van Gogh's Sunflowers, but an annual exhibit of new artists called Face 2017. They gave out voting slips with your tickets and asked you to vote for your favorite. They also allowed you to take photo of this exhibition! Our fave painting's name translates as "Broken Heart":

Another one I liked is called "Ahiru", which means "Duck":

The Sunflowers were also very much worth seeing. Our walk in the rain paid-off :)

On our way back we noticed they were having a blood drive outside Shinjuku Station (in the rain...). Meet Kenketsu-chan, the Japanese Red Cross' mascot:

On the way home we thought we'd look for a cake shop to have a snack, but everyone else in Shinjuku had the same idea, so they all were mobbed. Our fallback position was to go to San Marco (a cafe & pastry chain) for chocolate croissant (very yummy) & pick up another matcha soy latte (because it's warm & delicious!).

Charlie noticed a cute message on the label of my latte:

We rested for the rest of the afternoon, then headed out for dinner a little before 6:00. It was still pouring outside, but there's an Italian restaurant in the building that our hotel is in (like the art museum, our hotel is at the top of an office building, & the lobby is on the 20th floor) that we like to visit. So we avoided the rain & had some delish salad, interesting focaccia (no toppings, but fluffy & good), & pizza. I got a photo of the first two, but was too focused on eating to get the pizza :)

It was nice to enjoy a lovely meal & chat about our adventures here. I am really going to miss everyone here! It's so hard to only see you every two years! But I'm going home to my kid, and I can't wait to see him.

Tomorrow we'll leave the hotel around 11:00 am to take the limousine bus to Haneda airport (first time to fly from there). It will be a loooooong day. We'll get back 13 of the 14 hours we lost crossing the International Date Line on the way here (don't know if I'll ever get the Daylight Savings Time hour back...) & have a long layover in Minneapolis/St. Paul. If all goes well, we'll get home around midnight Monday. Wish us luck!!

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