And on the seventh day….we woke up before the dawn in order to see the fish at Tsukiji fish market. Pretty early to see dead fish, but it was on the top of my list. Unfortunately, we were too late for the auction and too early for the regular viewing. We did however, get to roam around the outer market, where they sold a multitude of goods from edible items to chopsticks and other nick-nacks. The boyfriend and I picked up a view pairs of chopsticks since they were so incredibly cheap; we couldn’t pass up the opportunity.

We headed towards the heart of Ginza next, stopping briefly at a Buddhist Temple in Tsukiji. There were several steps up to the entrance and the closer we got, the more we could hear the goings-on inside; the monks were singing. It was perhaps one of the most beautiful things my ears have ever heard. When we walked inside, I just felt enveloped in peace and awe. The inside was beautiful, as well.

Due to our early start to the day, when we arrived in Ginza, hardly anything was open, like Laduree and the Sony Building, so we vowed to return and headed towards Ueno Park. Ueno is a rather large park; 133 acres, but Central Park still tops it at 843 acres. Any park in the middle of a city the size of Tokyo is huge. By this time, some of the attractions were opening within the park, so we gradually made our way to them, stopping at two of the shrines in between; Kiyomizu Kannon-do and Benten-do. Both are Buddhist temples. Kiyomizu Kannon-do was first built in 1631, but the current one is from 1698, having survived every disaster that has come it’s way since. Benten-do had the best view. It is situated jutting out into the parks pond, which are overgrown with lily-pads, an actually beautiful sight, especially if you spot some Lotus flowers like we did.

Our main destination was Ueno Zoo and the Tokyo National Museum. Ueno Zoo was closer after leaving Benten-do, so we went there next. Our main objective was to see the pandas, and that we did. There aren’t many zoo’s nearby in the States that have pandas, so this was going to be our first time seeing them. As lazy as they are, they are absolutely adorable. I even bought a panda coin-purse for all my Yen as a memento. Of course we viewed some of the other animals as well, like the precious Macaques, monkeys native to Japan. I could have easily taken one home with me. Customs would have loved that. Upon exiting Ueno Zoo, I found the best Pocky of all time: Panda Pocky. It was more than a little bit melted, due to sitting out in the sun at it’s place of sale, but it was the most delicious.

We stopped for lunch as a cafe in front of the Tokyo National Museum, then set out for the museum itself. We didn’t take our time viewing all the exhibits and reading everything word-for-word, we had a specific goal and that was to view the samurai exhibit. I also happened to love the array of kimono’s on display.

Back to Ginza, we went! And our first stop was Laduree at per my request. It had been seven long, agonizing months since I had last eaten the delicious Laduree macarons, and when I found out that Tokyo had a Laduree…..I was so thrilled! Pretty sure I tried every flavor they had. I specifically remember one being called “Marie Antoinette”. They were a refreshingly cool treat that I nibbled on as we walked back once again to the Sony Building. I do not recommend going there. I expected to be able to play on thousands upon thousand of yet-released gadgets, but I was sorely disappointed. It turns out it was just a Sony version of the Apple store.

We met back up with our group around five in order to visit the Sports/Science University. What a place that was. It was another state-of-the-art facility, so incredibly nice, and flowing with people being active. Our main interest was watching their Judo team which is almost at Olympic level, they are that good. We watched their practice for a while and got to catch a glimpse at the current All-Japan Champion, then we were taken on a tour of the facility. They had a giant football field (surprise) where people were practicing football, hand-ball, lacrosse. On the inside, there was an Olympic size pool in one room, a Kendo room, a room for the gymnasts and dancers, and on and on and on. In several of the rooms we got to watch people practicing. Once they saw that people were watching, they abruptly stopped and looked right back, probably excited to see Americans, no doubt. Everyone was so athletic though. We even got to walk into their weight room, where I nearly jumped for joy, wanting to join in lifting weights with everyone. Towards the ends, we even saw their library before heading back to actually watch Kendo practice. Now that’s an interesting sport. It’s Japanese fencing and very loud, but entertaining. Visiting the Sports/Science University made me slightly envious. A lot of things in Japan now are very well-made, modern, and well-kept.

It was late by the time we finally arrived back at the hotel, and we were exhausted, but definitely excited about the next day ahead of us.

Thanks again for reading,
MEG

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