One of the highlights of our stay was getting to have an American breakfast. I know this sounds strange or even hard to understand, but when you live overseas where the traditional breakfast is very different from your own, getting to have American breakfast served to you is a treat. Plus, they had cheese blintzes so I was extremely excited!
Our original plan was to head to the Ghibli Museum, but we waited too long to buy tickets so they were sold out. Plan B was to head to the Tokyo Sky Tree. It is currently the tallest tower in the world, at 634 meters.
This was also our first glimpse of the sakura (cherry blossoms).
We had no idea that it would be so busy. Check out all those people behind the tree. Although there was an insane wait, they did think things through. We arrived at 1:30 pm and received a "return" ticket to get in line at 5:00-5:30 pm to buy our tickets. Look closely and you will see the directions to spend time in the Solamachi or other areas while waiting. Yes, they encourage you to use your waiting time in the mall and aquarium in the complex. Since we didn't have any other plans until later in the evening and have never been to this area when it was open before, we decided to go for it and enjoy our time there.
First we headed to the aquarium within the shopping complex at the tower.
My new camera took lots of nice pictures of the fish.
One thing that was unique was the giant jelly fish tanks.
They used different colored lights to make them look even cooler.
These were actually very, very small jelly fish.
Couldn't resist the cute little seahorses.
Can you spot the fish? Yeah, it's the thing that looks like a rock!
This was in a very large tank with fish, rays, eels and sharks.
This shark actually swam directly at us and then turned right as he got to the glass. It was pretty creepy!
More pretty colored fish.
These were definitely unusual. These are sea worms, I think technically called sea snakes, maybe? They were weird. That's all I know! They stayed with their back ends in the sand.
Here is the shark from when we went to see the tank down below. It was a floor to ceiling tank and you get to view them first from upstairs before making your way down to the bottom level.
Also on the bottom level was the penguin exhibit. This is their main attraction.
This one looked like a mom nesting.
There were also some seals next to the penguins.
We happened to be there just as penguin feeding time started. I wasn't sure how this would be, other than cute, but possibly a horrible mess of a feeding frenzy because there were so many of them. I was extremely pleasantly surprised to see that this was done in the most orderly and "scientific" way I have ever seen an animal feeding go in a zoo or aquarium. The whole process involved 4 people. Two were in with the penguins and two were outside the tank looking from ground level. Inside the pool, one person was feeding and the other had a clipboard to record how many fish each penguin ate.
The feeder would call out a name and then the people on the ground below would watch them underwater and confirm if the penguin actually ate the fish or if a different penguin "stole" it. They were actually calling penguins out by name. Yes, it absolutely seemed like they knew the names of and could identify all of the penguins, and more impressively so, in the middle of some fairly frenzied behavior.
After watching from above we headed down stairs to check out the penguins from below and watch the employees on ground level checking to make sure everyone was eating.
So cute! But I swear with enough of a "running" start, one could definitely jump out.
I know this looks like a lobster, but the sign said ebi, which means shrimp (or prawn more likely). This thing was seriously huge! Most people laughed that it was an ebi. I kept hearing Japanese people say "ebi" in a questioning way and then giggle.
It's almost like a giant hermit crab.
After the aquarium we still had time to spare, so we wandered around the mall. We were pleasantly surprised to see a Cold Stone. In fact, this was the first one I have ever seen in Japan. And since we were looking for a frozen yogurt place anyway, this came at the perfect time.
Strawberries are big here this time of year and you can see that the cherry blossom flavor was also being advertised.
I went with the cherry blossom special sundae.
Ryan got one with berries. We both could not resist the waffle bowls.
After ice cream we headed inside the mall and found what seemed to be a tourist center and museum of all things Japanese. Inside one room we found specialty products made in different prefectures. It was easy for us to spot our prefecture. We have had that beer and soda often, plus I happen to know the characters for Aomori (because I recently had to add them into a document for shipping stuff to my house).
Finally, we were able to get in line for our tickets. This took about an hour from the time we entered the line until the time we were getting in the elevator to go up. Thankfully the elevator was not glass and we would not see outside. It moved very quickly and our ears were definitely popping.
Once at the top we were free to move around and take pictures. It turned out that the timing was perfect. The sun was just setting. This meant we could get some great sun set shows and then see the city light up at night. It's a little hazy but I still got some nice pictures, and I will happily say that it was worth the wait. I wished we could have bought tickets in advance, but in the absence of other plans, it was ok that we stayed in the shopping complex. The view was definitely worth it.
We got some nice shots with the river below. On our next Tokyo trip we have a river cruise planned, so I am looking forward to that.
As the sun went down more and more lights lit up across the city. It was a beautiful change to watch.
Here was my selfie attempt. I am horrible at this because I have very short arms, but I wanted to get me with some of the background.
As we went down a couple of floors to get to the elevator down, we made our way to the glass observation deck floor. It is just a small part, but there is an area where you can see straight down 345 meters. Thankfully it has multiple layers so you aren't right on the last piece of glass. I am sure it is well tested so it won't break, but just in case, it made me feel better to have that extra layer there. It definitely made my heart pound standing on it.
Since it was night time we were able to get some pictures of the tower lit up at night. It really was nice to be able to see it daytime and night time.
We had planned on dinner in Shibuya, which was about 30 minutes by metro and we had no idea where we would eat, so a snack at the Meiji owned 100% Chocolate Cafe sounded like a good bet. We ate at one near Ginza before. We ended up just getting some small squares of chocolate since an all out chocolate dessert didn't seem like the best idea before dinner.
One last shot before heading over to Shibuya.
One goal while in Shibuya was to find the Hachiko statue. I will admit that I looked for this thing multiple times, but never found it. I guess I didn't realize it was further away from the building. I was expecting it to be a little closer. But I was determined this time. We found (not hard since we always use this entrance) the Hachiko entrance and just looked for where people and a statue would be.
If you are not familiar with the story of Hachiko (and the Richard Gere film about the tale), you can read more here. He is a legend in Japan and probably their most famous dog.
So excited that we finally found the statue!
I was also excited that I could get a picture with cherry blossoms in the background.
The dinner plan was to just walk and see what interested us. Kamukura Soup with Noodles definitely caught our attention.
Really what caught my attention was this sign. This is amazing because I rarely find ramen where the broth is pork free (traditionally pork is the broth for ramen).
The ordering was done in the traditional way of ordering at a shop like this, which is with a vending machine. Then you take the ticket inside and give it to the server or cook. Thankfully they had English on the machine to help us out.
Ryans dish came with some rice.
Here is his ramen, which he said was excellent.
Here is my vegetarian ramen. I ordered mine with a soft boiled egg for some protein. This ramen was awesome! I am definitely planning to come back to this place.
Ryan also had some gyoza with his ramen and he said these were good too.
Then we walked around a little before heading back to the hotel. Boy was I glad to get off my feet and get some rest before another fun filled day in Tokyo.
QUESTIONS: What is the tallest tower or building you have been in? When was the last time you visited a aquarium? Have you ever had traditional ramen (fresh, not prepackaged and dried)?