This may seem hard to believe, but most of what was on the agenda for the group tour sightseeing in Tokyo were things we had not done yet. We have seen plenty in Tokyo and have our favorite spots, but there are still plenty of places we have not explored. One of those was Meiji Shrine. I had been meaning to check this out but just hadn't gotten over there yet. I was excited to know this was on the agenda for our tour.
These are donated empty (too bad!) sake containers that line the walkway over to the shrine.
You can tell this is a Shinto shrine because there is a Torii gate.
Here is the walk up to the shrine. With the rain the smell of the wood really came out and it was extremely peaceful.
Here is inside the shrine courtyard area.
This is one of my favorite pictures since it captures those working and viewing the shrine outside in the rain with their umbrellas just going about their business.
Pretty much everyone had their umbrellas out. I couldn't believe that on our full sightseeing day it rained pretty much the whole time.
Here I am with Ryan. And our umbrellas!
I really enjoyed the trees that were inside the shrine grounds.
Next up was Tokyo Tower. We have done the Sky Tree but hadn't done the older TV tower. This is designed to look like the Eifel tower, so if it looks familiar, that's why! Unfortunately it was pouring outside and I really couldn't get a good picture of the outside. The stuffed version inside will have to do.
Visibility was poor but it was still fun to go up and look around.
Apparently a crazy ball was found at the top of the antenna.
It's kind of hard to tell but this is the ball that they found.
This fun robot was on the loose while we were walking around the observation deck.
Although not nearly as high up, there is a glass part on the observation deck that you can look down.
Next we walked through Hamurikyu gardens, quickly of course because it was raining, and then got on a boat for a river cruise.
Here is a 3000 year old pine tree. It started as a small bonsai.
Unfortunately it was pretty wet out.
This was the boat we were in for the river cruise. Thankfully it was fully covered.
Pretty hard to see through the very wet glass, but I still took a few pictures to show what the (clouded) skyline looks like.
This boat was pretty fun looking.
It was neat with the glass roof because you could see the bridges after you passed through underneath.
Lunch was over in the Asahi building. The tall gold building is supposed to look like a beer mug. The other building is also part of Asahi...like the beer.
We had a traditional Japanese lunch served to us. The restaurant was pretty good and had a really nice view.
Lunch started with a seafood salad and an egg custard.
Here is a close up of the egg custard. I didn't end up eating it because there was chicken in it.
We also had some tempura shrimp and vegetables.
Then we had some sashimi. A lot of people were unsure about eating this. I don't blame them! I am just used to it now and very comfortable eating this, but if it was my first time in Japan, I would be cautious too.
They served us rice too.
And miso soup.
Dessert was a brown sugar jelly and a matcha mocha ball. Most people in our group, I think, were really good about trying these, although they weren't really sure what to make of it.
After lunch we headed to Sensoji Temple. I didn't take any pictures because I have been here a few times. Sadly, our favorite sweet bread place was sold out for the day. Instead Ryan decided to have purple sweet potato ice cream. This is a popular flavor in Japan.
This place also had other desserts made from the sweet potatoes.
I thought this was funny. This was down a little alley next to Sensoji.
I passed on the sweet potato soft serve, which turned out to be a good thing since I found this gelato.
Amazing flavor choices!
It was a tough decision but I ended up with the fig gelato. It was awesome. Fresh fig pieces in it. Yum!
Then it was time for dinner. I know, we just ate lunch! But they found if dinner was too late on that first day people were exhausted because they were adjusting to the time difference and had a long day sightseeing. If they went back to the hotel to rest before dinner they may be too tired to go back out. I can understand that and I know the feeling from other trips I have done in the past.
The building in the distance, I think, is the diet building, which I think is their version of Parliament.
Here is Tokyo station from the outside. It is massive!
Dinner was at Gonpachi.
AKA "Kill Bill" Restaurant.
There was a fight scene in the movie Kill Bill that was filmed here and many famous people have since eaten here since. Here is the inside and that is Mimi, our tour guide for the day.
For this meal I was served some dishes that were different from the group because I don't eat meat. My first course was a salad with seaweed and lotus root.
Everyone else had a meat and potato dish.
They also brought me my own, although I am not sure why.
This was a nice salad with large pieces of tofu. Delicious.
This was a very delicious piece of grilled white fish.
Then I had some skewers with scallops and asparagus, mushrooms, and tuna. Everyone else had just steak and asparagus.
Then we were served some cold soba noodles.
After a nice, but long dinner, we were finally served dessert. This was ice cream with some jelly pieces.
This was a great restaurant choice. I never would have thought to go here. In fact, I didn't even know this place was in Tokyo. It was an excellent choice by our guide. Normally places that fit large tour groups are touristy and the food isn't all that great (or authentic), but this place was, and actually so was the lunch choice. I would definitely recommend Gonpachi.
QUESTIONS: Do you eat sushi or sashimi? Do you recognize this restaurant from Kill Bill?