Wednesday, June 2—Tokyo
As Advertised: After breakfast in your hotel, you will embark on a sightseeing tour of Tokyo including the Imperial Palace Plaza, Meiji Shrine, and Asakusa Kannon Temple, Tokyo’s largest and most popular Buddhist temple. The balance of the afternoon will be free to explore this bustling city. This evening, enjoy a traditional Japanese dinner.
This morning we had breakfast in the Glass Court, which had a better buffet and much nicer ambiance than the Medallion Grill. Our tour left at 9 to see the Meiji Shrine. After driving past the Imperial Guest House and stopping briefly for picture taking in the gardens of the Imperial Palace. I took a number of photos of what I thought were the palace itself, but after comparing them to photos of the palace elsewhere online, I have no idea what the building I photographed actually was. After this hurried stop, we pressed on to the Asakusa Kannon Temple and its notorious shopping arcade, then made a circuitous trek back to the hotel, dropping some of the group in the Ginza.
After freshening up, we went out for lunch, planning to eat at New Yorkers Café in Kogakuin University, but we decided the sandwiches were too small, so we went back to Wendy’s, where Barney got a burger and I got a grilled chicken Caesar salad.
After lunch we wandered down to the Shinjuku train station and around it to the book and video floor of Tower Records to cruise its exiguous selection of English-language books (which had been recommended to us). My mission was to find a copy of the Point & Speak guide to Japanese that Matthew had bought, and Barney was still desultorily looking for a copy of Dan Brown’s Angels & Demons. Needless to say, Tower Records did not provide either, but on the way back to the hotel we stopped again at Kogakuin, where there was a Maruzen bookstore. Here I found Point & Speak Guides for numerous other languages, but not Japanese, and Barney didn’t find Angels & Demons, either, but did find The Da Vinci Code in paperback; this was quite a coup, since it had not been released in paperback in the United States (and would not be for quite a while longer, as long as the hardcover edition remained on the bestseller list). Some of my “friends” have insisted that this must have been a pirated copy of the book, but I didn’t think so. I don’t believe pirating would be tolerated in Japan as it is in Hong Kong and other parts of China; in any case, I examined the copyright page and saw that the edition is identified as the “First Doubleday International Mass Market edition published 2004,” and a Web search for the ISBN (0-385-51322-4) confirms this, as the ISBN is widely available in numerous locations, all outside the United States.
After returning to the hotel briefly, we went out to City Hall again, this time unencumbered and much more efficiently. We went up to the South Tower Observatory, where we almost saw Mount Fuji.
Again we returned to the hotel, where I stayed in the room to read until time to change for dinner. Barney, who had been bitten hard by the desire for a digital camera and was very tempted to buy one immediately, went back out to Yodobashi Camera to scout models, pick up literature, note prices, etc. As it turned out, he never felt confident enough to buy a camera while in Japan (too difficult to ascertain comparative specs with so little help in English and no assurance that he could get technical support in the States); soon after we came home, however, he bought one very similar to the one he had given me (Pentax Optio).
Dinner that night was billed as a “traditional” Japanese meal at the Miyako Koshiki restaurant in the Shinjuku Sumitomo Building, where the numerous courses were served by women in kimono.
Returning to the room about 9:30 p.m., we packed in preparation for our departure for Yokohama the next day.