30,000 Steps without the Stroller

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When we decided to leave the stroller at home for this vacation, I had my reservations. Clarissa is not quite 5 and we walk a ton on vacation. But she did really well. We only had to carry her for a few minutes here and there.

She woke up an hour before my alarm on Sunday, so we had plenty of time for a McDonald’s breakfast before heading to the Ueno Zoo before they opened at 930.

The baby panda turned one last month and apparently is still quite popular. By the time we got to the zoo entrance, the line to see the baby panda was over two hours long! Thankfully, Clarissa understood that we had other things to do today and would not be waiting in that line. We did see everything else in the zoo, however and spent 3.5 hours there.

We all really enjoyed the zoo. There are several different species of animals with large monkey and bird sections. Clarissa was especially excited about the polar bears, penguins, elephants, giraffes, crocodiles, and zebras. There was a window viewing area for the polar bear that she was especially excited about because she said she called him and he came right up to her.

We headed to Odaiba for Diver City mall next. We started outside with the new Gundam Statue. Tim needed pictures and Clarissa thought it was very cool but wondered why it was such a large statue.

The original plan was to eat lunch but the lines for all of the food were rediculously long so we found a corner to eat the protein bars we brought and headed to the Gundam Base on the 7th floor. It was very different from our last visit. Last time it was set up like a museum with things you could buy. This time it was definitely more of a shopping experience but they did have several limited edition items.

We headed downstairs for the Hello Kitty Cafe for some ice cream to hold us over. We went to a few stores including a virtual reality store were we bought some astronaut food and a rainbow umbrella. At one point we went to the bathroom and had to wait in line and Clarissa said, “Why do we have to wait in line for everything in this town?” We quickly decided that we needed real food and headed to Shibuya.

Our wifi Hotspot wasn’t working so we couldn’t find our planned restaurant, but we found a Coco Ichybanya instead (Tim’s favorite Japanese curry restaurant). Then we found the Mitake Shrine.

We actually took a taxi (our first ever in Tokyo) to Kippy’s for some ice cream. They are vegan so most of their ice cream and juice choices are made from coconut water and some kind of fruit. They also use either dates or raw honey and organic ingredients. The prices weren’t bad either. If you are looking for a sweet treat, I recommend finding it in Harajuku. It is in a quieter part of town and we enjoyed the walk back to the station.

…And we’re back

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When we were with Tim’s friend on Saturday, we aquired subway cards that are similar to our Daegu Toppass in that they can do any train or bus and you can recharge them easily in a subway station. The difference is that in Daegu, there is a flat rate to ride a train or bus and in in Tokyo, you pay based on how far you travel.

With our new pasmo passes, we decided that we would be adventurous and check out some different train lines and go out of the city a little bit.

We only went one town over to Mitaka, but still. We took the JR Yamonote line to the JR chuo line to the metro Marunochi line. Then, we got off at the train and took a bus to the Tokyo Edo Open Air Museum.

We had to walk through a park to get there. It was a nice park with trees and grass and families playing. There was even a big train. It was behind a fence though, so Clarissa was disappointed that she couldn’t get super close to it.

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I was really excited to see what the houses and buildings looked like in Japan in the past. Unfortunately, when we got there, it was closed. We planned the trip to go home on December 28 because we read that a lot of things close for New Years the last 2-3 days of the year. Apparently, this museum closed on December 26. Oops.

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All was not lost though. We walked back to the train station instead of taking the bus so that we could see what a normal (not in the big city) neighborhood would look like in Japan. There were houses and duplexes. A few villas, but not tall apartment buildings like in the big city. We did see a shrine on the way. I think most neighborhoods have their own shrine.

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Also, I thought it was funny that they had 7-11 in Japan, but most of them had this sign…

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We took the train back to Nakano, which is supposed to be the most crowded neighborhood in Tokyo. Tim’s friend told us about a shopping area there that Tim should check out for video game, anime, and gundam model stuff. So we headed to Nakano Broadway, as it was on the same train line.

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We were hungry so we went to Lotteria for lunch. They have them in Korea too, but the sandwich choices were way different. I got a teryaki burger with egg and Tim got the Kobe burger. Clarissa, of course, ate french fries. We ended up sitting next to a mom and her little girl. Clarissa made a new friend. They had a great time playing together, even though they didn’t speak English and we don’t speak Japanese. The little girl was three.

Then we headed to Mandrake. There were several different stores in the four story shopping mall. Tim found a Gundam model he has been looking for for a long time. Clarissa found a Ponyo doll. We also bought a Totoro puzzle to do together. It was a very successful trip.

We thought we would head back to Shibuya for dinner. We went to Shibuya Hikarie becasue it is supposed to have several shops and places to eat. It did. But most were overpriced. We decided on a Chinese restaraunt, but the service was terrible, and they wouldn’t let us order a bowl of rice for Clarissa. So we left. The trip wasn’t a total waste though because the views from the 11th floor were pretty cool.

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We went back to Shinagawa and ended up at Royal Host. It was actually a nice little restaraunt. They had a special menu for kids and brought Clarissa a bib with a bee that she actually wanted to wear. Tim ordered pancakes, french toast, and sausage. I ordered a steak burger with fries. Clarissa wanted fries, but surprised me and actually ate some of my burger after she finished her fries.

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The cool thing about the pasmo card is that you can return it and get a refund of the cost of the card (500 yen, about $5) and whatever amount you have left on the card. So we returned our cards on our walk back to the hotel.

We headed home on Monday. We took the airport limosine bus back to the airport and were pleasantly surprised that there was a special line for families. Most people had to wait in a long line, but we only had to wait about five minutes before it was our turn.

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They also asked us if we wanted to use their stroller while we were in the airport. The check-in girl was confused because we were headed back to Busan on our American passport. She wasn’t familiar with the special visa that we have. Tim had been warned to bring his letter of employment, and that was exactly what we needed to get through.

The flight went well. Clarissa enjoyed watching part of the Minions movie as well as some Mickey Mouse. They let her pick out a present again. This time she chose an airplane.
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The food was great, yet again. Japan Airlines really feeds you well.

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The flight attendants were very nice and even walked by to tell us we could see Mt Fuji out the airplane window. Tim got a couple of really cool shots.

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We got through immigration in Busan without a problem. We were able to catch the next bus back to Daegu. That was totally a God thing because we only had to wait 20 minutes and ended up with the last two seats on the bus.