We ended sleeping very little and waking up ridiculously early for our final excursion into Tokyo. I was especially grumpy but brightened up a little with a lovely rainbow over Yokohama.
However, both Peter and I were set to have a rough day, Peter with overwhelming exhaustion and me with terrible stomach issues. Let’s just say I was on the constant lookout for a restroom throughout the entire day. But we made the best of it and still managed to enjoy the day.
To start, we boarded another Western only tour bus for the hour long trip into Tokyo. It was uneventful (but restful!).
The first stop of the day was the Imperial Palace. Sounds cool right? We were pretty stoked.
Except we were required to stay far away from the palace due to a visit by the Malaysian president to the emperor. Figures. This portion of the tour was a letdown but the palace sure seemed cool from afar.
We then drove through the streets of downtown Tokyo to our next stop… another temple! It was interesting to note the differences between Tokyo and Shanghai along the way. Tokyo is much smaller, cleaner, and less busy than Shanghai. Even the buildings are more compact with small but discernible space between each building. Tokyo reminded me of a Disney version of Shanghai with “skyscrapers” that are actually tiny and constructed out of plastic. It was a weird city to say the least.
We then arrived at Asakusa Kannon Temple in the heart of Tokyo. The site was huge with hundreds of tourists everywhere. We let a group of Japanese male students take their picture with Peter and me. At first we though they wanted us to take a group shot of them until they put their arms around Peter for a picture. Then they worked their way up to getting a picture with me. Ballsy.
At this point I wasn’t feeling too well but was amazed at the sheer size of the temple and the surrounding buildings. We happened to witness a Buddhist ceremony taking place in the temple which reminded me of a similar experience at the Jade Buddha Temple in Shanghai.
We walked around quite a bit, found some Chinese style dragons, then made our way to the shopping area.
The shopping street was quite extensive with shops full of the most random assortment of things to buy. I managed to buy a Japanese style ornament and some lucky beaded bracelets from a random monk on the street. I think we paid too much for “peace” in exchange for the bracelets but at least now I have something lucky to wear!
While walking past the shops we were accosted by the most mouth-watering smell. Hungry bellies leading us to the source, we discovered a man making these little candies. He poured some batter into different shaped molds, pressing slabs of red bean paste into the center before pouring more batter on top and sealing the mold shut. He then heated the mold over a grill for a few minutes, finally releasing the warm goodies into our greedy hands.
They didn’t taste as good as they looked but helped tide us over for the time being. And oh hey look! We could see Sky Tower! The tallest building in Tokyo!
After a few hours it was time to get back to the boat. Peter left Tokyo as a ninja. And yet another dream of his was fulfilled.
Back on the ship, we set sail for the final port of the cruise. But we were destined to end the day the same way we started.