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.

Akihabara and Ueno

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When we booked our hotel, we basically went on hotels.com and found the cheapest room that would sleep three. We are very confident in how to use the Korean subway system.  We figured Tokyo’s subway system would be pretty easy with our English map so as long as we were in Tokyo, location wasn’t a huge deal.

What we didn’t know until we were ready to walk to the subway, is that our hotel has a shuttle that goes to a train station every fifteen minutes.  The train system here is interesting in that there are several lines that interconnect and they are not all subway. Taking the shuttle made life easier and the bus driver helped us figure out where to go.

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The Meguro station is on the JR line and not the subway.  We bought tickets from Meguro to Akihabara. Tim found an app that lets tourists have free WiFi in Japan for up to two weeks called Navitime.  But it is by GPS so you have to download it before you arrive in Japan.  If you wait until you arrive,  you have to go to an information stand,  show them your passport to prove that you are a tourist,  and they will give you a username and password to get your free WiFi. That was our first stop of the day.

From the Akihabara station, we went to the UDX building.Tim thought that the stand was in the nttc docomo store (cellphone store). But it was actually above it on the second floor at Aki-info. We almost missed it but went back because we saw Totoro in the window of an anime store.

We could see a Sega building from there so we walked around the technology stores. Tim liked looking at all of the gadgets available. We went into a collectibles store that sold items for StarWars, Marvel, and Studio Ghibli.

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That was probably my favorite part of that section. We had planned to visit the Studio Ghibli museum this trip, but tickets are sold out this week. So God let us see some cool Studio Ghibli stuff anyway. Clarissa had a hard time choosing her favorite toy but ended up with the catbus from Totoro.

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We had McDonald’s for lunch. Then we went back to Akihabara station and bought tickets for Ueno and our return trip to Meguro.

Our afternoon plan was Ueno Zoo. The Ueno Zoo is Japan’s oldest zoo, built in 1882. We got a discount for showing our hotel guidebook, so adult tickets were 600 yen (about $6) and children under 12 are always free.

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The tourist guidebook said that the zoo had 500 different species of animals. It took us over three hours to see everything! We all enjoyed it. There were so many things to see. Any time an animal was in a cage alone Clarissa wanted to know where it’s babies were. After the first few, she started to get upset. Thankfully there were three gorillas and one was a baby so she got to see “Mom, dad, and baby.” She seemed satisfied after that.

She thoroughly enjoyed the “reindeer” and wanted to know where Christmas was. She kept saying “Merry Christmas” and it would respond with a noise. She was so happy!

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On our way out, there was a section for coin operated rides. Clarissa wanted to ride Thomas.

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After we went back to Meguro station, we decided to walk back to the hotel. We wanted to check out our dinner options along the way. We couldn’t decide before we got back to the hotel, so we went up to the room to change into our warmer jackets and then took the shuttle back to the station.

We ended up at a place called Ikinari Steak. You choose the size and cut of your meat and then you stand at your table to eat it. Thankfully Clarissa was contained in her stroller. The food was great. Our meat (Angus sirloin) was 7 yen per gram (so a 7 ounce steak is about $20). You pay extra for sides like rice and salad, but we both had a steak dinner for under $50.

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We passed a Baskin Robbins and stopped for dessert. They have Baskin Robbins in Korea too, but don’t have nearly as many flavors. Though it probably isn’t fair to compare Daegu to Tokyo since Tokyo is such a larger city? Clarissa got cookies and cream. Tim ordered pumpkin pudding and twinkle tree. I ate white chocolate macadamia. We decided to walk back after our delicious evening out.

I don’t know if we just choose well or if the people Tim works with have expensive taste but the prices in Tokyo are not as bad as we were warned. I think we will stay within our budget.