Ueno, Vancouver and home, the longest day ever

Trip Start Dec 19, 2010
Trip End Jan 02, 2011

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Flag of United States  , California
Sunday, January 2, 2011

With yesterday's McDonald’s fail in mind, we headed right over there at about 7:30 am for breakfast. I was really looking forward to my Egg McMuffin.  I guess if I can’t have cereal with milk(and that was really impossible in Japan except at a western style breakfast buffet), I really need something hot for breakfast.  The pastries just don’t do it for me, and this was my only complaint with regard to food on this trip. 

We walked back to the hotel, did our final luggage packing, and checked out.  We then hauled us and our luggage across the street and UP the stairs (no escalators!) to the train for our day trip to Ueno Park.  I had a senior moment and forgot that I had written down the train connections, so I was looking through all the maps I could find in order to figure it out.  A nice older Japanese gentleman offered his help and jogged my brain to remember the way to get there.  We looked stupid to him later when we changed trains and thought we were being all smart by taking an elevator downstairs, when in reality we were on the exact opposite side of the station from where we needed to be, so we had to go UP and then DOWN again (at least on escalators this time).  Even with this momentary lapse, we were luggage in train station experts by now, and stored our bags in a coin locker at the Ueno station so we could walk around un-encumbered for the day.

January 2 was the only day we could visit the Tokyo National Museum, because it had been closed for the holidays.  It is located in Ueno Park which was just a few train stops from where we stayed.  There is also a zoo, temple and a shrine, and several other interesting museums located there, unfortunately, we only had about 5 hours for our visit.  It was too bad, because the Western Art Museum had an Albrecht Durer exhibit that caught Steve’s eye.  But we headed straight to the museum, and it was a popular place with quite a line to buy tickets.

I have to admit that the museum visit is kind of a blur to me, with lots of ancient items, but it really didn’t come alive for me.  Perhaps it was because of the English translations of the item descriptions, but I feel that a museum should bring out the sense of the people who created and used the items on display.  That didn’t happen for me.  Maybe I just didn’t feel the connection because of the cultural difference, I’m not sure.  I took pictures mostly of the samurai items because that interested Steve.  We spent probably a couple of hours there, and then headed back toward the train station to find some lunch.

Now, you might have noticed some reference to finding tempura, which had been a sort of a quest of mine, since I never eat it at home.  We found lots of katsu for Adam, but only a stray tempura shrimp on top of noodles or rice for me.  I had been keeping an eye out for a restaurant that seemed to specialize in tempura for the whole trip.  I had pretty much given up hope, what with all the holiday closures at the end of our trip, but BINGO! We found a tempura place not too far from the Ueno train station.  And yes, it was Good, and I relieved the boys of the tempura veggies they were unwilling to try.  More for me!

With a bit of time to kill, we wandered the park for our last bit of temple/shrine visiting and autumn leaves picture taking.  The pond would be awesomely lovely any other time of year, but for winter it is full of dead, brown lotus leaves.  There was a guy playing some sort of home made percussion instruments that was nice to listen to.  Ah well, time to go back home.

We retrieved our luggage, and took the train to Tokyo station to say goodbye to Jacob and board the Narita Express back to the airport.  This was the START of a 21 hour trip back home.  And back to work Monday morning!
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