Even though jet lag still rules, I had my first Starbucks green tea latte of the trip, so that counts for something! Charlie had eggplant lasagna for breakfast (yes Brendan, dad ate eggplant voluntarily). He said it was good! The little guys on my latte cup are Tomo the Hamsterbean (made by me) & Sweetie the Ferret Bean (made by Brendan) & they tend to travel with us to liven things up. I text photos of them to Brendan, too :)
And although jet lag made me feel like I'd taken a blow to the head, mid-morning we decided to take a quick, 2-stop by Yamanote line, trip to Harajuku & the Meiji Jingu, a Shinto shrine dedicated to the Meiji Emperor, who was the present Emperor's great-grandfather. We visited Harajuku with our friend Marian (whom you will meet later in the trip) when Brendan was much younger, when we visited the amazing toy store Kiddy Land. We visited the Meiji Jingu with Momo (whom you will also meet later on this trip) 6 years ago & really enjoyed the visit, so back we went. The temple is in the midst of a beautiful park & a great place to walk (and catch Pokemon, too :). Walking is a really good way to get tired enough to sleep!
Harajuku Station is like a little slice of Europe, and the shrine is right next door. You walk about a kilometer from the entrance to the shrine, along a beautiful road (no cars) lined with lanterns & trees.
As is usually with shrines and temples here, everything is gorgeous.
We even had a miko (shrine maiden) sighting!
We visited the treasure house museum there as well, which has artifacts from the mid-1800's that belonged to the Meiji Emperor & his Empress. They were the restored royalty (who took over from the shogun) that ushered democracy & westernization (assisted by Admiral Perry's "Black Ships") to Japan, so it was interesting to see the mix of Japanese & western-style clothing & other belongings. I also hit my first omamori stand of the trip.
Omamori are good luck charms, often dedicated to specific kinds of luck. They come in many forms, but are often made from gorgeous brocade fabrics. You hang them on your purse or backpack or car & they divert bad luck from attaching itself to you. Charlie encouraged me to buy a brocade one dedicated to physical & mental well-being :) I got to charm version for Brendan. Plus I bought a pair dedicated to happy marriage for the two of us.
After walking the shrine & park, we headed into the Harajuku shopping district for a couple blocks. On the way were were accosted by a somewhat shady, probably Buddhist monk (?) who gave me an omamori & prayer beads, asked me to sign a book, & then expected me to give him money. I did :)
Along the way, Charlie spotted a sweets shop that looked promising.
We bought a Harajuku Eclair & shared it when we got back to the hotel. It was not-too-sweet & quite yummy.
After the short train trip back to Shinjuku Station, we did a little food shopping in the basement of the Takashimaya department store, to pick up some lunch & drinks to eat at our hotel. The basement level of department store in Japan are full of food kiosks of all sorts & many folks come here on their way home from work to buy dinner or dinner ingredients. Takashimaya also has a supermarket! Here's my lunch:
After lunch we napped! Woo hoo! 2 1/2 more hours of sleep!
For dinner we went across the train tracks to Takashimaya again, this time to the restaurants that occupy the top 2 floors, which is also the custom in Japan. After looking around we went to a tempura place. This past year Charlie & I have enjoyed watching a live-action tv show from Japan called "Wakakozake" which means "Wakako+sake". Wakako is a 20-something OL (office lady) in Tokyo who "was born with a taste for sake". The show features real restaurants in Tokyo & gorgeous foods & drinks (& Wakako enjoying them). This has gotten us more interested in trying sake ourselves, so Charlie ordered warm sake for dinner. It arrived in a bottle in a box, with a tiny cup, & the waitress asked him to wait 3 minutes before pouring it.
He waited & waited (3 minutes is a long time!).
When he opened the box, he found the bottle was neck-deep in hot water!
Then finally got to enjoy his hot sake! I had a sip & it was really good!
My dinner was vegetable tempura with rice & soup:
Charlie had tempura kakiage (shrimps & veggies in a cake) over rice with sweet soy sauce:
It was all delish! We chatted with the hostess, who told us her daughter lives in North Carolina! Small world :)
On the way home we went to the conbini (convenience store) for snacks & more beverages, & I found some sakura-themed bottled green tea with omake (free gift) of Rirakkuma-themed bottle covers. I love Rirakkuma!!
Speaking of sakura (cherry blossoms) Tokyo is gearing-up for them big-time. Everywhere you go there are sakura-themed displays & items for sale. Our hotel has some pretty ones, & even one you can pose in!
After watching some tv & chatting with Marian by phone about train tickets, we decided to call it a day! Sleep, come to us please!!!