Zach's May 2016 01- Tokyo

(Warning: May consists entirely of our trip to Japan (although it only lasted 2 weeks!), and has therefore been broken down into two pages - and includes MANY pictures! This is the first half: Tokyo.)

click here to go to Zach's May 2016 02 page

Our May began with a long flight north: to Tokyo! -for clergy meetings for Daddy, and a once-in-a-lifetime experience for all three of us. Here, passing time in the Sydney airport with a game of Uno! 2016-05-02

Beautiful sunset over the skies of... somewhere, en route from Sydney to Tokyo 2016-05-02

We made it! -And here's our teensy-weensy little hotel room (not much wider than the length of the beds!) :=D 2016-05-02

On our first day in Tokyo, we went on a lay-led tour - including up the Skytree Tower! 2016-05-03

Here's the view out of one of the tower windows. That's a lot of city! 2016-05-03

After the tower we went to Asakusa, where we walked around the Senso-ji temple and through the marketplace. (I don't know about you, but I envisioned the shrines to be surrounded by lots of open space and grass! Not so.) 2016-05-03

We also grabbed lunch in Asakusa - our first time ordering on our own in this foreign language! We managed :=) (We were glad to spend some time with Pete & Teresa, too!) 2016-05-03

We were surprised by some of the American establishments we found in Tokyo. (No, this isn't where we had lunch!) 2016-05-03

Ok, we'll just pick up a few groceries... Ummm, I think these are yogurt, and the pictures are helpful, but...?! 2016-05-03

The Imperial Palace gardens (-this isn't the palace itself, but it looks so... quintessentially Japanese, doesn't it?!) 2016-05-04

Zach was bored out of his gourd, visiting these shrines & temples - Lydia did a stellar job of engaging him :=) 2016-05-04

On the next day, Zach & Mommy ventured into Ginza alone! (-and survived to tell about it!) 2016-05-05

After much Japanese food, Zach (and Mommy!) relished the opportunity to enjoy a good ol' fashioned North American breakfast :=) 2016-05-05

Mmmmm! :=) (Here we are, at Eggs'n'Things, up on the 5th storey of a tall building - as you do.....) 2016-05-05

I love my boy's face, in this picture :=) - but, more to the point, look at that pile of whipped cream on top of those pancakes behind him! :=D 2016-05-05

Oooh, Zach found something interesting! (He couldn't play with it, mind you,...) 2016-05-05

Hey, something else of interest -- this one, he could play with! (At the Sony Building) 2016-05-05

-He really would have stayed here, like this, in the hotel room, all day long, if he could have! :=D 2016-05-06

We had a lovely spread of foods available to us at the breakfast buffet of our hotel - a mix of Japanese & western foods! 2016-05-06

-This was one of the food offerings: gummy, sweaty-sock-smelling probiotic beans of some sort. :=D (*Later discovered to be nattō = soybeans!) 2016-05-06

Zach, on the other hand, found all the western foods, and slathered jelly on all sides of his bread - with a chopstick - with abandon! 2016-05-06

We had a group tour, which included a visit to Meiji Jingu shrine 2016-05-06

Zach took this picture of his folks near the torii, just outside the temple 2016-05-06

We paid another visit <this time with Daddy and the other ministers> to the Imperial Palace 2016-05-06

Zach took the opportunity to get his fortune... 2016-05-06

...which, as it turns out, was a bad fortune :=O -- but, they say, that's actually a good thing because it gets the bad out of the way, leaving room for the good! 2016-05-06

Then, fortunes <especially bad ones!> are tied to the rack, which will later be lit on fire.2016-05-06

Next, back - but a more thorough visit - to Sensō-ji temple. [Daddy was good at entertaining Zach on boring trips!] 2016-05-06


(Wow! Pretty massive, eh?!) 2016-05-06

Most Japanese folk we saw wore western clothes, but some did wear traditional kimonos! 2016-05-06

'Shibaraku' statue (We didn't know anything about him at the time - and only anything now because I've read a bit from the link! -It was just a cool looking statue.) 2016-05-06

This was as close to a geisha as we got -- in the visitor's centre! 2016-05-06

After the tour, we Beiswengers headed to Akihabara to find us some technology. We found a Sega building that housed row after row of vending machines (selling toys and gadgets)... 2016-05-06

...Followed by rows and rows and floors and floors of video games! 2016-05-06

-We really were storeys and storeys up! 2016-05-06

The next day, after meetings ended, we headed over to Shinjuku2016-05-07

Zach found someone he knew, there! :=D (That's Shaun the Sheep) 2016-05-07

We walked and walked, that day. Among other things, we found another Shaun, in Shibuya! 2016-05-07

We visited Tokyu Hands, a one-stop shop that has pretty much everything you could possibly want (and more!!). This is their floor guide... and although it shows '7' floors, there's an A, B and C to each!! :=O 2016-05-07

Hey, another Shaun! :=D 2016-05-07

Another 'taste of home'. :=) 2016-05-07

-And another one. Cha-ching! (The boys were quite excited for breakfast, the next morning! :=D ) 2016-05-07

Heh.... As we walked, we decided that we were in the mood for some nice, cold ice cream. We looked it up on Google maps, mouths watering as we drew closer,.... and found this: "icecream" brand clothing! :=D D'oh. 2016-05-07

These were some of the crowds we found ourselves walking through...! (We did find some ice cream, btw - albeit Baskin Robbins!) 2016-05-07

Then, we went on a hunt - for Godzilla! 2016-05-07

Yikes! Ruuuuuuun! :=O 2016-05-07

(There he is, atop that building!) 2016-05-07

We had dinner at good ol' Burger King, that night. (Cheap! And familiar! ...And, let's face it, something that brought Zach joy, amidst all this walking and sightseeing junk.) 2016-05-07

Shinjuku at night 2016-05-07

...Did you know - or would you believe - that they actually SELL socks with a dip between the first two toes, to accommodate the thong on their shoes?! :=D 2016-05-08

We went up to the Ueno area, on Sunday. Here's Ueno Park. 2016-05-08

We also found a Hard Rock Café. :=D (Ok, confession time: this was no coincidence! We've been to Hard Rocks in a number of different cities. Check 'Tokyo' off the list!) 2016-05-08

We also found Ameyoko, or 'candy store alley'. Alternatively, 'Ame' is also short for 'America', because many American products were sold there, once upon a time. (We weren't particularly impressed by either...) 2016-05-08

Here's what the train/subway stations look like, in Tokyo: uniformed, white-gloved attendants and gated entry to the trains2016-05-08


Something that really did impress Mommy about Japan was its manhole covers! -Isn't this gorgeous?! (-especially for a manhole cover?!?!) 2016-05-08

We made our way to the Honda showroom, that afternoon (and unfortunately just missed seeing Asimo! :=( ) 2016-05-08

--See?! Basic, as far as Japanese manhole covers go, but it's a manhole cover! :=D 2016-05-08

Something we saw a lot of, in Japan, were bicycles! - and people riding them, in all sorts of dress, on their way to work etc. 2016-05-09

Monday was a day Zach was really looking forward to (for reasons you'll soon learn!). To get there, though, we began by taking this super-awesome-looking ferry: the Himiko cruise, designed by the same guy who did Starblazers! :=D 2016-05-09

Zach's not afraid of this Gundam robot! -He ain't so big! 2016-05-09

Well, then again,.... :=O (Perspective is everything!) 2016-05-09

We made it! Miraikan - the National Museum of Emerging Science & Innovation!! We got to see a 3D model depicting how the internet works. Cool! (Angel Grampa would've loved this.....) 2016-05-09

Check her out: she's a ROBOT!! 2016-05-09

AND, finally, we got to see Asimo, yahoo!! (Zach was in 7th heaven! :=) ) 2016-05-09

There was a special 'video games' exhibit; we enjoyed some Dance Dance Revolution, Pong, Simon, Donkey Kong,... (And then returned to the rest of the museum - we didn't travel over 7000km to play video games!) 2016-05-09

After the Miraikan we headed over to the Toyota City Showcase, MegaWeb (This car - the Mirai - run on hydrogen, and its only emission is WATER?!) 2016-05-09

Zach got his driver's license, there... :=O - And took his folks for a spin! (We lived to tell about it...) 2016-05-09

Both boys enjoyed the driving simulators :=) 2016-05-09

Ah, yes, the ubiquitous Starbucks Coffee. 2016-05-09

This is representative of a number of dinners we ate, while in Tokyo: something nuked, on a tray, from the local mini mart :=D 2016-05-09

(Well, except that Mommy got sushi! - Not the highest class dining, but it was cheap AND we got to choose what we wanted. A chacun son goût!) 2016-05-09

An interesting observation about Japan is the abundance of vending machines! (And, you could often pay using your train pass. How convenient is that?!) 2016-05-10

Tuesday: a SUMO experience! 2016-05-10

Inside the sumo stadium (Ryogoku Kokugikan). Sumo events are day-long affairs, and this was early in the day; the stadium filled up as the day went on, especially as the big names arrived! 2016-05-10

-You might think the big guy has the upper hand, but it was usually the little guy who was able to out-manoeuver the big guy! (The zoom lens on my camera came in pretty handy!) 2016-05-10

The higher-ranking wrestlers wore more ornate garb (lower-ranking guys in photo at left). There were some interesting rituals involved. 2016-05-10

All the wrestlers did this stomping, clapping routine before a bout. (The fancy 'aprons' and belts came off for wrestling!) 2016-05-10

It was a full day: we left the sumo tournament for a baseball game! 2016-05-10

Hiroshima Toyo Carp vs. Tokyo Yakult Swallows. Go, go Swallows! 2016-05-10

We were very lucky that it didn't rain until part-way through the game, and even then, it didn't rain very hard. (We were very glad it wasn't rained out!) 2016-05-10

The next day we headed down to Odawara to see Mt Fuji. ...Do you see it? (Nope, neither did we. We saved our ¥ and didn't pursue it any further, alas.) 2016-05-11

Odawara had some <more> gorgeous manhole covers, though! 2016-05-11

Another one! (We walked around Odawara a bit and visited a café before heading back to Tokyo, to make the 75-minute train ride worth our while! :=D ) 2016-05-11

We headed back to Tokyo and went to Sony ExploraScience instead. Zach was quite happy about that change of plans! :=) 2016-05-11

We had fun making faces at the camera to see how highly our smiles would rank! :=D (We all got onto the top-12 board, eventually!) 2016-05-11

Toward the end of another long day, we made our way back to our Airbnb in Sumida. This is the view from her porch. 2016-05-11

This is the 'kitchen' in Keiko's Airbnb. :=O 2016-05-11

This is the 'living room' of the Airbnb. Daddy & Mommy slept on twin-sized air mattresses up in the loft, Zach down there. There was that one chair on which to sit. It was a tight space! 2016-05-11

Hey, this looks decent {to a Western-food-craving North American male}, eh?! -A nice serving of spaghetti bolognaise? ....Or so they would have you think. It didn't taste anything like spaghetti or bolognaise! :=D 2016-05-11


After Tokyo, we visited Kyoto and Hiroshima, then spent a day at Disney Sea before heading back to Australia --

click here to go to Zach's May 2016 02 page