After spending just a few days in Tokyo, we’re now pros when it comes to the subway and train lines, finding amazing vegan and vegetarian restaurants, and giggling like school kids over all things Studio Ghibli.
On day one, we made our way to a northern part of Tokyo to visit the Sumida Aquarium, which is small, but absolutely perfect. Dark and with the uber modern, ultra clean lines of an art museum, long horizontal tanks with pretty fish and lush, cascading sea plants, look like works of art carefully displayed. Tanks have lots of room around them for visitors to admire the sea life with rapt attention and the labels are in both Japanese and English, which made things way easier for us.
Our favourite displays were the jellyfish tanks with numerous wonderful species, including six tanks, side by side, with jellies that ranged from 0 to 1 day old, 1 to 2 days old, 2 to 3 days old, etc., so you could see the progression from tiny orange speck to what started to actually look like jellyfish after just 6 days.
My personal favourite, though, had to be the garden eels. In a long, tall, narrow tank, the eels rose out of the sand at regular intervals, swaying along with the water’s gentle current, each of them a delicate shade of green, yellow or orange.
In the aquarium’s main hall, we saw the most amazing interaction between a penguin and its keeper, who hugged and nuzzled each other, cooed and stroked each other’s faces. We left them after about 15 minutes so we don’t know how long the hugging went on, but it was incredibly cute.
After the aquarium, we had some really nice pizza, before stumbling across a Pokémon and a Studio Ghibli store in the Tokyo Skytree Town. We spent a lot of time looking longingly at just about every Ghibli nicknack, and even took pictures with a life size Totoro stuffy. The Pokémon store was just as awesome, with so many weird and wacky things with Pokémon on them, that Rowan, as a fan, might still be there today if we hadn’t pulled him away (with promises of an even bigger Pokémon store in Osaka that we heard about).
Back on the subway, we next headed to Sensoji Temple in Asakusa, one of Tokyo’s most popular temples. We saw lots of people shaking these metal cylinders and taking out a long stick, so we watched and did it too. After making a small donation to the temple, Rowan shook the cylinder and a long, white piece of wood popped out of a small opening. It had a kanji symbol on it, which we found on a corresponding set of narrow drawers. Inside was a message, written in Japanese and English, telling Rowan he had to practice patience if he wanted to achieve his goals, which we thought was a lovely sentiment.
Suffering from a bit of jet lag, a strawberry ice cream helped Rowan recover enough to hop back on the subway and make our way to a vegan restaurant in Tokyo station, T’s TanTan, that had amazing noodle soups. Unfortunately, the power of ice cream is fleeting and Rowan slept through dinner, so we brought home some instant noodles from the restaurant for breakfast the next morning, which were just fantastic.