Tokyo, Sunday 23-Oct

Kids these days. We got to see a lot of Japanese youth hanging out in Harajuku, then went upscale walking through Aoyama. Then stayed upscale by dining in Ginza. It's probably stereotypical Tokyo, but still a fun experience.

Since we're traveling for so many days, we need to do laundry a few times. Today was that day; since the laundry facilities where we were staying opened at 8am, that's when we showed up. Putting our ¥300 into the machine (which was quite full with all our stuff), we went to get some breakfast then hung out into the room, moving things to the dryer just in time for the next person to put his load of wash in. We returned about a minute after the dryer was done, and the guy who was using the washer had opened it but hadn't gotten to the point of moving our still-warm clothes into a hamper. After folding and putting things away, we headed out to the subway.

Harajuku and Aoyama

Our walking tour began at Meiji Jingu Shrine, dedicated to the Emperor and Empress Meiji. It will be celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2020, so to prepare, they're doing restorations in phases. That's becoming very familiar to us.

The setting for this shrine is a forest, and you walk quite a way from the entrance gate to the shrine proper. We did want to take a look at the garden, but the path to its entrance was closed, so we just went with the rest of the crowd.

While we were looking at the shrine complex, a bunch of uniformed officials started moving people away from the center, and it was apparent something was happening. Indeed, a procession started, centered around a young woman, but it's not clear to me who she was (didn't quite look like any of the royal family who would be about that age). Update: I'm told it was a wedding. Thanks, Noël!

The next stop was Takeshita Dori, a pedestrian-only shopping street. What makes this one different is it caters to teens, and they were out in droves. Several of them seemed dressed to impress, hanging out with friends. We stopped by a crepe stand (there must have been almost a dozen of them) for a little bit of lunch, and went to a food court to have more. Where we had lunch was definitely geared towards kids, particularly girls, but there were some boys there too.

After working our way through the crowds, we started down Omotesando Dori and dropped into Oriental Bazaar to pick up souvenirs. They had a pretty good variety of items, and the prices were pretty good. If you spend over about ¥5,200, foreigners can get an instant refund of the consumption tax; I didn't quite hit that mark and didn't feel it necessary to look for more things.

Back on our walking tour, we saw Omotesando Hills across the street, an upscale shopping center, but we didn't go inside. We were on a mission to move on, past the Prada building (which drew a crowd, with its glass block-like exterior) to Yoku Moku where we had some dessert. Melody got a chocolate cake, while I got a blueberry one shaped in a half dome.

Wanting a slower day, we went back to the room to plan out the evening.

Ginza

We had been thinking about going to Ginza to a katsu restaurant recommended to us, so we decided to go for it. Since it was just about sundown and a little early for dinner, we walked around the shopping area first, feeling like the tourists we were. We even dropped into the Apple Store, which is four floors high, the second being a mezzanine so you could look down to the main floor.

That done, we worked our way to the katsu restaurant, and really enjoyed our meal. It was served in a sizzling-hot cast iron platter with a bed of cabbage; we could hear it coming from across the room. After it was placed on the table, another waiter came by with the red miso sauce and poured it on top, so the whole thing sizzled louder and steamed heavily.

Dinner was done, so all that was left for our last evening in Tokyo was to pack our things up and get some sleep.