Day 14: Transfer to Tokyo, Free Day
So, today was totally on us. Elissa gave us some possible bullet trains time to get us from Nagoya back to Tokyo (quick hour trip). Adam and I decided to take an earlier bullet train to get into the city a bit earlier. Today was definitely one of my favorites. Exploring Tokyo for the very first time was so incredible, because every experience, every sight, EVERYTHING was brand new. I tried to visit totally different areas today than my first free day and I think I succeeded. Read on to see what I did!
Our bullet train dropped us at Tokyo Station, at which point we needed to transfer to a local train to get to our first location. But first, we wanted to take a look at the grandeur of it. I cannot overstate how incredibly large many stations are. It never felt confusing, but wow. It puts NYC to shame in scale.
Next up, I visited the Hamarikyu Gardens. Not going to pretend to know the historical significance of the place. But if you are interested... it was originally built as a tidal duck hunting ground when part of it was reclaimed by the Shogun to build an estate in 1654. It was passed down from generation to generation and in 1871, the Japanese Imperial family took ownership of the land until it finally opened to the public in 1946. I had been very interested in visiting a classic Tokyo Garden and this one did not disappoint.
Nakajima Teahouse was my next stop. I knew I wanted to have an 'authentic' Japanese afternoon tea ceremony and this seemed like a great place to do it. The original teahouse was built the same year as the bridge but burned down before being rebuilt in 1788. It burned down again in an air raid during WWII, but was rebuilt again in 1983. I paid about $7 for the experience and was given a cup of matcha and a confection. As you'll see in a bit, there is a specific way to partake, which I tried to adhere to. The tea house had a beautiful patio attached which really gave you a great view of the surrounding gardens and Ginza.
So. Some information here. One of my college friends visited Japan and when I asked him about things I oughta do, the suggestion he made that I was 1000% sold on was MariCAR. Basically, for a fee you can take a 1, 2, or 3 hour trip all over Tokyo (or Osaka). They depart from various hubs around the city and follow similar itineraries. If you are interested in doing this, some things you oughta know. It's about $100 for 3 hours, and $60 for 1 hour. Just do the 3 hour trip. It is worth it. The difference between the 2 and 3 hour trip departing from Shinegawa was the inclusion of Rainbow Bridge (I KNOW!) and Odaiba. Basically, we left from the hub and traveled to the bridge, crossed at around 50 mph, flew up an empty garage, parked, explored (in costume) and then went on our way. Also, if you want to participate, you need to get an international driver's license. I was able to get one from AAA for around $20. Seems a bit stupid since there was nothing to it except getting some photos taken and signing some forms. But yeah. I would highly, highly recommend it. I'm not super passionate about Mario Kart or anything, but I love go karts. And these fly. One more note: I didn't do this because I thought it was like a cultural experience. Clearly, this thing is catered to tourists who think a certain way about Japan. But, I just did it because it was fun. I do worry about people abusing the privilege of this experience. This would never happen anywhere else. So I hope folks don't blow it by speeding or getting in accidents (seems to be starting to happen). With that, some pictures!
Last edited by Taylor Finn
on Tue Apr 23, 2019 7:14 am.