Welcome to Day 5 of Janet, Randy and Family Japan Adventure 2016
Monday, April 11th, 2016
Fell asleep at 9:00pm again, but this time I slept right through until 5:00am. I was very exited about that. Me too !
Now that I feel less jetlagged and more clear-headed, I can talk about one of my favourite things in Japan - the toilets (oh boy! if you don't need all the details on a toilet, then skip down a few paragraphs). I love the toilets because they are just so cool. They are a bidet and a toilet all in one. There are different variations, so I will just talk about the one we have in our room in the Imperial Hotel.
The toilet looks mostly like any other toilet - except that it also has a panel of lights on it. I don't know what these lights signify, but they will turn green at times.
Also, the seat is heated. Which can come as a surprise to us North Americans, but I quite like it. As some homes in Japan do not have central heating, I imagine that this feature is quite welcome on those chilly winter mornings. I don't know if our hotel room toilet has pre-set heating times, but I noticed that the seat is not always the same temperature every time I use it (some times is noticeably warmer). Regardless, I quite like that feature.
Now on to the other features of the toilet. The controls for the toilet are mounted onto the wall to the side of the toilet, not the toilet itself. As you can see, there are controls for a 'bum' spray or a bidet spray. When you press either of these buttons, a little control arm will extend out from the back of the toilet and spray nice warm water onto your nether regions. It will keep spraying until you hit the stop button - at which time the water will stop and the arm will retract. There is the option to adjust the water pressure as well.
Once you have finished playing with all the buttons, you can hit the big 'Flush' button. Or, you can just close the lid and the toilet will automatically flush itself. That's some amazing technology right there.
There are also some toilets that have a built in fan (ours didn't). But I did notice that after our toilet finished flushing, it made a bunch of whooshing and gurgling notices for a bit (maybe it was auto-cleaning?). I'm really not sure.
Now that I have the toilet talk out of the way, I will resume with the details of our day. Thank goodness for that :)
We headed over to Starbucks just before 7:00am and ran into Harold, Lil, Bea and Kay. We had breakfast together and went back to the hotel. We stopped by the concierge to check into booking a Tokyo Bay dinner cruise and a bus to the Fuji Shibazakura Festival for when we are back in Tokyo after our week in Kyoto. The concierge was going to look into availability while we headed off to the Tsukiji Fish Market.
We took the subway from Hibiya to Tsukiji (which was quite busy with regular commuters going to work), then walked to the fish market. We wandered through the outer market, and stopped at an information booth to find out how to find the inner market. We managed to find it - but had to dodge traffic and motorized carts that were zipping around, and the many workers with packing boxes and what not. Even once inside, you had to be on the lookout for these little electric carts, as they were moving fish from the vendors to the loading docks (thankfully they are equipped with horns as they would give you a little blast to get out of their way. The aisles are very narrow and in places you have to basically dodge into a pile of boxes to get out of their way).
The inner market was quite interesting, with untold varieties of different seafood. This market is where the fish is sold to restaurants and markets, but after 9:00am, tourists can also buy the products if they really wanted. We wandered around the market for maybe half an hour, then decided that we had seen enough, and figured we better get out before we ended up getting run over.
We made our way back to the outer market area, and decided to hit up a sushi restaurant while we were there (as you wouldn't get much fresher fish than restaurants at the fish market). We made it to a conveyor-belt sushi restaurant just moments before it opened at 10:00am, so were able to get in and get seated immediately.
As the restaurant had just opened, it took a while for some of the plates to make it over to our end of the counter (we were seated on the end of the conveyor belt, so a lot of the plates were taken by other customers before making it to us). But the sushi chefs started to catch up and we were able to get some more food. We also had the opportunity to order any plates directly from the chef (which we did).
I must say that this was definitely the freshest and tastiest sushi that I have had. It pretty much just melted in your mouth. It was very enjoyable, and it is tempting to go back again. Very much worth the trip to Tsukiji.
After about half an hour, we had our fill of sushi and headed back out into the market area. By this time, there were masses of people walking around, and a person could hardly even move. We slowly inched our way to the street and made our way back to the subway station.
We headed back to the hotel where we touched base with the concierge - who had made the necessary reservations for us. We went back to our room to relax for about an hour, then met up again to head over to the Harajuku and Shibuya areas.
We took the train to Harajuku and wandered down Takeshita street - which has a lot of unique little shops and caters mostly to teenagers. We noticed a new sign at the beginning of the street - with a live display showing the people looking at the sign. So, of course we had to stop and get ourselves on the display. The display is quite grainy, so it's not the best of pictures (click on the photos link to see).
We wandered down Takeshita street - checking out the interesting shops (and buying some socks for Janet). Then we walked to the nearby Oriental Bazaar store to do some shopping. This store has a nice selection of various souvenir items to choose from. We spent quite a while there - but mostly because it took ages to actually pay for any goods we wanted to purchase. Randy and I found the cutest cat watering can, and just had to buy it. It was worth the wait in line, and having to lug it home (image to the left).
After we all finally had our purchases, we started to stroll towards Shibuya. Google maps had us take a really nice side street full of shops to get there - which was a much more pleasant walk previous trips where Randy and I had walked on the main, noisy road.
Once at Shibuya, Randy ducked into Tower Records while I continued with the group to the Starbucks at Shibuya crossing. We stood in line to get drinks and then went to the 2nd level to hopefully get a view of the crossing. At first there were no seats available at the windows, but we snagged seats as soon as they came available. Shibuya Crossing is famous as it is a really busy pedestrian intersection. All traffic will stop and pedestrians will cross the street from 5 different directions. So, it is quite something to see.
As we had been doing a lot of walking, we took our time enjoying our beverages and relaxing. We took some photos from the Starbucks, then we went out across the street and took a few more. As it was mid-afternoon on a work day, there wasn't the huge masses of people that you would see during rush hour or on a weekend. But, there were still lots more people crossing the street at the same time than what we would see at home.
Next to the crossing is a statue of Hachiko, which is a dog that used to faithfully wait for his master to come home on the train everyday - even after the master died. It is a very popular statue - that everyone wants to get a picture taken next to. So, getting a picture of just the statue without some random tourist took some patience.
After that we were done our wanderings for the day, and took the train back to our hotel. We luckily got 6 seats all together on the train, so we could rest our weary feet for the 30 minute ride.
As we exited the train station, we went into Bic Camera to check out some restaurants I had noticed last time we were in there. I never knew that Bic Camera had restaurants on the top floor. That would be like finding restaurants in a Best Buy back home. There was an Okonomiyaki restaurant there, so we decided to check out the menu as a possibility for supper later. On the way out of the store, we came across the alcohol section (which was not there in previous visits), and so Harold and Randy decided they needed to pick up some booze. Us gals decided to leave them to it and I took them back to the hotel.
Once the guys returned, we all convened in Harold and Lil's room for drinks. Aunt Bea's iPad had a message saying it was disabled, so I tried to connect it to iTunes on my laptop to see if I could unlock it. (even on holiday, I get to do help desk support). Unfortunately, I was not able to get it working. I did suggest that she could always go to Bic Camera and buy a new one (hee hee).
We headed back to Okonomiyaki restaurant at Bic Camera for supper. Unfortunately we were sat next to a group of business men that were very loud (and probably drunk - very likely drunk). So, that part was annoying. But, at least the food was good - and everyone enjoyed their meal. With full tummies, we headed back to our rooms where we had to pack up for our departure to Kyoto tomorrow.
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