After declaring it an anime-shopping-free day, we decided to make the most of the beautiful weather in Tokyo so headed for Ueno Park. In Cherry Blossom season, this is one of the spots to be in Tokyo, however, as we are visiting in winter I was willing to take a gamble and have a wander. Home to many museums and Ueno Zoo, 3 temples and one shrine, Ueno Park is a beautiful place to wile away the hours.
I was actually really stressed out on Tuesday when we visited. Nix has been really, really hard work so far on this trip and he’s sucking the life out of me, so it was with great delight that I saw a freaking peony garden, IN FULL BLOOM no less, entry fee ¥600 ($7.40NZD). Dave saw that and was like, go ahead babe, I’ll hang with the boys.
One thing to remember about travelling with kids is that it can be quite tricky to steal a little quiet time. Dave and I find that we are so tired each night, we usually go to bed right after the boys so there’s not a lot of alone time to regroup. Ergo, a wander through some Japanese peony gardens was exactly what the doctor ordered.
We took our time exploring the park grounds, finally heading down a hill to Shinobazu Pond and the Bentendo Temple. This was such a great spot to wile away the sunny winter afternoon. The temple stands in the middle of the pond so there was lots for the boys to explore and look at, delicious food vendors (we enjoyed chicken katsu and crab skewers), as well as a lovely spot to sit and enjoy a cold Asahi.
As it was our last night in Tokyo we couldn’t resist the urge to head back to Shibuya and see the crossing in all of its after work, neon glory. I seriously LOVE this place, the energy is amazing but at the same time mellow and fun. Such a strange juxtaposition. We wandered and found the statue of Hachiko, the gorgeously loyal dog who would wait at the train station every day for his master Ueno to return, even after his passing, #heartmelt! We also saw a full Mario Cart tour stopped at the lights at Shibuya Crossing. This was something Dave and I really wanted to do but you need to hold an international drivers license so make sure you grab one of those in New Zealand before you leave home.
For only the second time (gasp), I popped into a shop I wanted to look in – Zara was having a huge sale so naturally I had a quick browse and nabbed four t shirts for $28 NZD! Everything in a size L is always on sale here, it’s the one time I’ve genuinely been stoked about my size lol.
One thing we are definitely missing is fruit and vegetables. The meat, seafood and carb situation is plentiful and awesome but we love our fresh produce so we stopped to pick up some dinner from the mind-blowing Tokyu Food Show at Shibuya Station. I don’t even know where to start here. Think, every type of uber-fresh seafood and meat in a small format market, complete with butchers, fishmongers preparing your purchase, but, in a fancy metropolitan supermarket. It was crazy packed, frenetic but so, so amazing. There was a whole ‘restaurant’ section in the market where you could find anything under the sun so Ethan picked out some sushi and gyoza while Nix wanted (more) chicken katzu and some potato wedges. Dave and I ate some crazy omelette-y meat/rice combo from a teeny restaurant around the corner from our house. Full tummies = happy Jacks.
So, a different kind of day here, and one just as enjoyable. The parks here are beautiful and so worth exploring. It’s super easy when travelling to get in the trap of ‘paying’ for your experiences in a country, but you just don’t have to at all. Let yourself wander unscheduled and you may start to finally find that ‘I’m on holiday feeling’.