Japanese adventure day fifteen: Tokyo

 

We had a lie in and then got ready for our final day in Japan. We decided to spend time at Ueno Park, one of the country’s first public parks and one of its most popular. There are over 800 cherry trees in the park therefore it is especially well visited during cherry blossom season. Despite us visiting towards the end of the season the park was still quite busy and picnics were happening all around us. Although the trees were no longer in full bloom a cherry blossom ‘rain’ had started where the tiny flowers cascaded over you.

 

First we visited the zoo, which sits within the park. It is the oldest in Japan and was really worth a visit. It was 600Y entry and it was hard to believe how good the zoo was when you’re only paying a few quid entry…and people say Japan is expensive? The zoo is famous for its pandas and this was certainly the busiest enclosure. The pandas were quite active, washing and playing, which was nice to see. They had quite a lot of bears within the park and they were probably my favourite thing to see as I’ve never seen them so close before. I just wanted to get in there and give them a hug!

 

There were a lot of Japanese animals in the zoo so there were many things I had never seen before. When we looked at the map there were certain areas that in an English zoo we may have skipped but I’m so glad we visited them here because it was amazing to see how different a Japanese squirrel is for example. Animals such as mice excited us more than they ever had before! They had some really cool nocturnal houses as well.

 

After the zoo we went to the national museum, also in the grounds of the park. The entry was 620Y and there was really so much to see. Everything was so Japanese, I know that may seem obvious but the British museum contains hardly anything British! I really loved the miniature doll house furniture which was so intricately carved and Adam was really pleased about seeing the many samurai outfits and swords.

Everything had English descriptions so it was easy to understand plus they had an amazing gift shop, which would be a great place to pick up some souvenirs for those back home.

 

We decided that with our last evening in Japan we really wanted to make a return visit to Akihabara. At Ueno station we stopped at a small Indian place and picked up some samosas and stuffed naans, which were delicious. There was also an amazing place nearby that sold beautiful cream cakes!

So we returned to Akihabara to spend our last yen. I certainly appreciated it more this time, having a far greater understanding of things like One Piece since our first stop. I had also developed a gachapon obsession that I allowed myself to totally indulge on our last trip. Dudley spent his last yen on a gameboy micro and Adam and I got a One Piece ship model that we could put together. It was official, my nerd transformation was complete!

We had to return to Ueno as we had deposited stuff at the lockers there in the morning and whilst at the station we visited a bakery there, ‘Boulangerie Asanoya’. They had some pretty gorgeous food and we indulged in fried pizza bread and creme brulee toast.

We then travelled to Narita airport, arriving at about 11pm. We returned our PASMO cards, getting a refund on the money we had left on them and I posted back my pocket WIFI. We then checked in at 9 hours, a modern capsule hotel.

 

Staying at a capsule hotel had been a Japanese bucket list item for me but it isn’t as easy as it sounds. First of all many capsule hotels are male only so I had no chance there. Secondly capsule hotels are only suitable for a one night stay really as you’re expected to check in and out for every day that you’re there. However 9 hours was a real find. It’s airport location meant we would be exactly where we needed to be for our flight the next day and its modern interior welcomed women too.

Although women are allowed the male and female quarters were separated. I said goodbye to Adam and Dudley at reception as well as collected my bag of PJs, slippers and locker key. I entered a locker room where I was expected to remove my shoes, put my stuff away in the locker (which easily fitted my large suitcase) and get changed.

From the locker room you entered a bathroom which had countless stalls and a long row of sinks. There were a couple of showers at the end of the stalls as well. From there you walked onto the capsules. The capsules were much more spacious than I had envisioned although they were quite warm. As I had arrived so late many of the blinds were pulled down, already filled with sleeping people. I have to admit in my pjs and with no windows I did feel a bit like a boutique prisoner but it was a very novel experience and I really enjoyed it.

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