Travel to Tokyo / Tokyo (1)

Sunday 29/20 (2/2)

We take the highway from Kanazawa to Tokyo, direct. Very monotonous. Moreover, it doesn’t stop raining the whole day, not even for a few minutes…

We are very disappointed by the rest areas of the highway; we don’t find anything good. Florence and Jules ordered 2 bowls of rice in one of them…

We arrive around 8pm at the Airbnb in Tokyo, in Meguro district, a cool district apparently.

We got a super welcome from Keita, the Airbnb “tenant” (he actually manages some 25 properties, on behalf of the owners). Keita is super helpful. Upon arrival (still under a very heavy rain, which is not easy to discharge the luggage from the car…), he comes with us to do grocery shopping while his friend is looking after our kids at home. He even comes with me to help me returning the rental car! This is of great help when you arrive in a city for the first time. I don’t know many hosts like him.

Kids love the house. It is great. We all have a single bed (in 3 different rooms), with 2 big bathrooms. It’s the best Airbnb so far (but by far the most expensive as well…). The house is great, with all you need to have a comfortable stay (including all the utensils for the kitchen, contrary to our previous Airbnb apartments). Last but not least, the Wi-Fi is very good.


Monday 30/10

Wake up at 8am. We try to implement a new daily schedule (the kids like to have a routine): wake-up early (between 7 and 8am), quick breakfast (cereals) and then two 1h30 sessions of homeschooling. It will enable us to have full afternoons to visit this huge city.

We slept very well. The beds are excellent (still on the floor for the parents though, but with great mattress) and the duvets are as good as in Kyoto.

Homeschooling for the kids with Isabelle while I prepare the programme of this afternoon.

I go to the (City) Bakery, besides the nearby metro station (Naka-Meguro). Bread is very good. We have a nice lunch at home (including one bread with squid ink).

We go and walk in Harajuku district this afternoon.

We go on foot to the famous (scramble) Shibuya crossing. When the lights turn red at this busy junction, they all turn red at the same time in every direction. Traffic stops completely and pedestrians inundate the entire intersection from all sides. We will definitely come back here, to observe this moment of organized chaos from “above”.

The kids quickly pose in front of the statue of Hachiko, a dog remembered for his remarkable loyalty to his owner, for whom he continued to wait for over nine years following his death. During his lifetime, the dog was held up in Japanese culture as an example of loyalty and fidelity. The kids love the movie ‘Hachi: A Dog’s Tale’ (with Richard Gere). There is a queue to take a picture in front of the statue and everybody waits for his/her turn. I hardly imagine this somewhere else than in Japan…

We then take the metro to Omote-sando station. We start by walking on Omote-sando, a wide, tree-lined boulevard. We try to find the striking contemporary buildings that line this boulevard, which is like a walk-through showroom of the who’s who of contemporary architecture: we can see buildings from four of Japan’s six Pritzker Prize winners: Maki Fumihiko, Tadao Ando, SANAA (Sejima Kazuyo and Nishizawa Ryue) and Ito Toyo.

We see first the Tod’s boutique whose (structural) criss-crossing strips of concrete take their inspiration from the zelkova trees below. The Louis Vuitton and Dior buildings are also nice.

We also stop at the MoMa shop, where there are always cool stuff on display.

We go to Takeshita-dori, one of the Tokyo’s famous fashion streets (mainly for teens). Kids buy some Halloween gadgets (no fancy dress this year unfortunately…).

We even go in a purikura, a typical Japanese experience. Purikura are kind of photo booths that produce selfies that you can decorate and print out (on stickers). They in fact predate Snapchat filters by at least a decade. They are cheap and attract hordes of Tokyo teenagers. Nowadays, with the purikura machine, you can apply fake eyelashes, change eye and hair color, enlarge your eyes, and of course add dogs and cats ears… These features are all optional and you can make yourself look way better (or more strange, if you want). This is the reason why it is extremely popular among  fashionable Japanese girls. Of course, you can write or draw anything on the pictures as well with the pen function, and make the photo stickers fun and original. We had fun doing this playful experience, together. For the result, see the picture…

We quickly visit the Design Festa art gallery, where dozens of small galleries are rented by the day.

The weather is rather cold (12C).

We go to Harajuku Gyoza-ro for dinner. We have to queue during 20’; it’s cold outside. Gyoza (dumplings) are the only thing on the menu in this restaurant. Boiled or pan-fried, with our without garlic or chives, they are all delicious.

We take the metro back home. Isabelle already masters the Tokyo metro, which seems however more complicated than in the previous cities (while the Moscow one was not that easy in Russian).

Back home, I prepare the programme of our Tokyo stay. There are so many things to see. Moreover, I still haven’t read about Japan in general; it bothers me…

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