Cheap fun and Japan seem to be rarely uttered in the same breath, especially coming from a tourist, but it does exist. One of the days that ended up being one of the cheapest days Han and I had in Japan was also the most fun.
Originally when I had planned to go to Japan I had wanted to spend only a minimal amount of time in Tokyo. I wasn’t into seeing another big city and really wanted to go and see places that I thought would offer more of a cultural experience of Japan. I honestly thought any city, no matter how big and modern, was going to be boring and redundant after awhile.
When Han decided to come along I had two options, either go off and see a lot of different places in Japan, or being with Han and spending a longer chunk of time in Tokyo with a smaller part of our trip seeing different places. As Han is still a student (just started his Master’s program!! woo hoo) he couldn’t afford to do an “all around Japan” trip with me but we haven’t had a lot of time together lately because of our schedules so I decided Tokyo for 2 weeks and 1 week of traveling around on a JR Train Pass.
To my surprise we only touched the tip of the ice burgh of fun things to do in Tokyo. I still came back to Taiwan with a Tokyo guide book earmarked with tons of things I wanted to see and do but never had the chance to.
Day 4 I wanted to discover some of the beauty within Tokyo so we started at the Meiji-jingu “Tokyo’s grandest shrine”. It was truly a gorgeous spot and even though I’m not thrilled with the photos I took there the memory is still fresh in my mind. The smells, the sounds, the heat. It was like being transported to the countryside while being in the middle of the city. The shrine itself only takes up a small portion the 175 acre forest grounds. The shrine is for Emperor Meiji and Empress Shoken who ruled during the time Japan’s isolation from the rest of the world ended.
We strolled around the shrine, hit the treasure museum on the Northern part of the grounds and then headed for Asakusa for a boat cruise. I love water, I love seeing cities from the water, and I loved boats. I wanted to visit Hama Rikyu onshi-teien palace gardens and one of the ways listed to get there was by boat. Han and I made our way to Asakusa grabbed some Japanese curry and found the boat ferries. Unfortunately by the time we arrived the gardens were closed so that wasn’t an option for where we could get off. Instead we decided to take the ferry as far as it would go. In this case to Odaiba.
The boat was comfy, the time of day was gorgeous and it was such a great little relaxing trip.
Once off the boat we decided to go over and explore Odaiba. It had really interesting buildings and we had heard that it’s a romantic spot with a lot of places to eat. Most of the buildings on the Odaiba, which is a man-made island are futuristic looking and make it look like some big amusement park from the distance. Even the subway ride over felt like a ride as it crosses over the water running along side a busy looping bridge with cars zooming both ways.
We decided to skip the romantic spot until later and head over to the Toyota Mega Web not quite sure what we were going to find.
The Mega Web ended up eating up the rest of our night. Built as kind of a showroom it not only shows, it plays! Aside from all kinds of new Toyota models that you an open up and sit in, and even test drive with advance reservation there are all kinds of simulators, hands on exhibits, displays of futuristic technology and even a theater that you have to buckle up in to experience what it’s like to be Super GT race car driver. All of it free and all of it fun. We did dish out a modest fee to ride the electric cars around the whole showcase and to the other buildings.
Even though I’m not the auto-geek Han is I still had a blast and was as sad as Han to be booted out at closing time and had no regrets on missing out on the romantic stuff.
Sony is supposed to have a similar kind of showcase both in Japan and here but we never made it to the one in Japan, I’m looking forward to seeing if the one in Taiwan is as fun.