Slept okish. The bed is nice and hard which is great. Pillow is a bit big and hard for my liking and the doona is lovely and warm. Which would be great if the ambient temperature was in the low teens, but not so great when the temperature is in the twenties. There's a split system air conditioner which does pretty great in this tiny room, so had that on but probably not low enough for my tastes. So woke up on several occasions hot and uncomfortable in my neck, but least my lower spine is doing ok...
Got up pretty early, around 5am (7am home time) and did all my blogging, GPS downloading and photo downloading. I think at the moment the only solution to the iPhone bastardising all my date/timestamps is to take screenshots of the dates on the phone itself, so files can be retrofitted later. The photos are fine because I can use tools to edit their dates based on exif data, but png screenshots will have to be manually changed later.
While I was waiting for Stu to get ready I took his "random camera" outside to pick up a GPS signal and get the correct time (I'm pretty sure it died in New Zealand when I dropped it, and broke several of the buttons on the camera, including the menu button, which you kinda need to reset the time).
Then we headed down to "breakfast" which is a tiny room filled with people all jostling around, and a bar of a dozen or so different Japanese pastries. They have little toaster ovens so used those to heat up some savoury pastries.
Breakfast in the hotel
Breakfast bar at the hotel
We'd decided that we may as well do the Skytree first, because the forecast for the next day was rain. There was supposed to be clearing clouds in the afternoon, but by that time it would be getting dark, so thought we may as well get it out of the way first up. So I bought myself a Pasmo card (Stu already had a Suica card, but they weren't available at the machine we went to). And then we headed down to the Ginza line. Except we went to the wrong platform at Ueno and there didn't seem to be any way to go to the other side without going through the barriers again. So we thought we'd go to a station where the platforms are joined and then go back. The train was super crowded (it was like 8:30am) and stressful. Stu thought we could stay on the train "another five or six stops" and change to the line that we actually wanted, but I looked at the map and I couldn't see where they intersected and all the people were too much so we did end up getting off at a stop where the platforms let you go back. (I just looked at another map now and it does look like it would have been ok with just one more stop then we actually went, but I wasn't dealing well with the crowds). So that was ok, but like ten or fifteen minutes wasted. Train from Ueno to Asakusa: 165 yen. At Asakusa we changed to the Asakusa line and took it to the Skytree station (Oshiage, 104 yen).
Once in the Skytree Town, I wanted to go outside and actually see the top of the Skytree to make sure its head wasn't in the clouds. Otherwise it'd kinda be a waste of money to go up. So we did that and it was fine.
Inside, we walked around and up and eventually found the tickets for the first level (we decided not to bother with the international "express" ticket which is 1000 yen more, because there was really noone around - no queues at all). So that was all pretty quick.
You come out on the "350" floor, which is 350 metres above ground. The views are pretty amazing. But you can't do a full 360 panorama from there because every so often there's "photo spots" or info boards or cafes or advertising on the windows. So I took a few photos but thought we'd fare better at the top level.
Tokyo from the Tokyo Skytree at the 350m level
View to Shinjuku from Tokyo Skytree 350m level
Asakusa from the Tokyo Skytree at the 350m level
Asahi beer tower from 350m level
Photo by Stu
Crap in front of the windows making it impossible to do proper panoramas on the 350m level
So we paid another 1030 yen each to go to top, at 450 metres. Where was completely disappointed and felt very ripped off. The windows at the top are tiny, completely useless for trying to do a panorama. And you go up in this spiral, not even a complete circle. Didn't stay up there for very long because it was kinda pointless.
Taking the lift up to the 450m level
Terrible observation deck at the 450m level
Terrible view for taking panoramic photos at the 450m level
View north west from Skytree 450m level
So we headed back down to the 345 metre level where the top lift takes you back to. But even on that level there's no way to get a full 360 panorama. Or in fact the 340 metre level below that. So this tower has THREE levels at 350 metres, and one and a half at 450 metres and yet not one of them will let you get a clear view all the way around. Such a waste of a perfectly good tower. Very disappointed.
Looking down to the ground from the 350m level
After we came back down we hunted and hunted for a way back down to where we'd come in, as I wanted to look at the Skytree shop on the ground floor. But, like shopping centres the world over, they make that pretty much impossible. We ended up going down outside. Found the shop, but nothing all that appealing, ended up getting a little tower "phone bling". Then we tried to get out of there, which involved more hunting around for ways to get to the other station we wanted to go to. So painful. As we were walking down we happened past a McDonald's. I didn't really want to have McDonald's (we're in Japan!!) but they did have a couple of interesting looking burgers. They had this deep fried prawn croquette would probably be the best way to describe it. One of them had a sweet soy sauce on top and the other had "cheese fondue". We couldn't resist, so that made for a pretty awesome morning tea. I might have burnt my mouth trying to eat it haha.
Weird santa and reindeer at Christmas Market at Tokyo Skytree
Prawn croquette burger at McDonalds - it was so good!!
Found the station on the Keisei Oshiage line and took the above ground train back to Asakusa. We actually ended up on a limited express for the one station, which we probably shouldn't have with just our metro tickets. Oopsie.
At Asakusa we had a wander around the Sensoji Temple area, much like we did in 2009, but in reverse.
Stu at Asakusa
Hozomon gate at Sensoji temple
Sensoji temple at Asakusa
Inside Senso-ji temple
Koi at Asakusa
Waterfall at Asakusa
Tokyo Skytree from Asakusa
Photo by Stu
Five storey pagoda at Asakusa
After leaving there Stu decided we needed a toilet, but of course out of the tourist area there's not much around. We'd nominally been heading towards Ueno park, but decided to head to the *other* Asakusa station. Sadly the toilets there were behind the barriers. So went upstairs and found a Rox shopping mall, so that was fine. Outside we found somewhere to have lunch. Stu had dumplings and I had a very nice pork and cabbage stir fry.
Pork and cabbage stir fry at Tiger Gyoza Hall
Then we went and sat down and discussed our plan of attack for the afternoon. We decided to take the train a little closer to Ueno park and wander around. So we left for the station. I had my camera bag over my shoulder as I always do, but it was only when we got back to the station that I realised I'd left my backpack behind!!!! OMFG panic. So raced back to where we'd sat down and FORTUNATELY it was still there!!! These old Japanese guys had a good laugh at me heh. Could have gone so badly. The only thing of any real value in the bag was the video camera. I had two credit cards in there which would have been a bit annoying to lose, but they aren't my primary ones for this trip so not so bad. And just a few other bits and pieces. But the devastating thing to lose would have been Cutie - I've had her since I made her in 1983 and she's been all over the world with me.
So train from Asakusa to Shin-Okachimachi (165 yen), then walked to Ueno park. Had a bit of a wander around some of the parts of the park that we hadn't seen before. It was after 3pm by this point and Stu was cold and our feet hurt. Oh, I had my jumper on this morning, but took it off at the Skytree because it was too hot for me, and left it off all day. Maybe I'm dying. Hrmmm.
Sculpture opposite Ueno Station
Looking south over Ueno Station
Time Forgotten Tower, Ueno Park
No Drone sign in Ueno Park
Photo by Stu
Waterfall in Ueno Park
Crow and Stu in Ueno Park
Shinobazu lotus flower pond in Ueno Park
Artist painting Shinobazu pond in Ueno Park
Boat pond in Ueno Park
Swan boats in Ueno Park
Shinobazunoike Bentendo Temple
Shinobazunoike Bentendo Temple
Cherry blossom outside Shinobazunoike Bentendo Temple
Last time we walked here in 2009 it was all street food stalls
So we headed back through Ueno to the hotel. I went to charge the GPS battery but couldn't find the USB charger brick we have that has four USB ports and four different international sockets. I was pretty sure I'd left it on top of the bed head, but thought *maybe* I'd put it away in the electronics bag I have. We looked all around the bed and I tore all my luggage completely apart. No sign of it. At this point we were thinking it might have gotten caught up in the sheets when they were changing them and taken off to the laundry. Or stolen. Either seemed somewhat unlikely. Then Stu was poking around where the plastic cover of the light is, and found the brick (and the proprietery cable for random camera) had gotten down *into* the light fitting. I really don't know how that would be possible without any sort of human intervention. So that left me pretty stressed.
Charging station at the hotel. The top of the light fitting slides aside, and that's where we found the charger hidden (the cover had been slid closed).
We chilled out for an hour or two. When it got dark we headed back to the park to see a couple of trees covered in Christmas lights that were very pretty.
Crossing Chuo Dori to Ueno Park
Frog Fountain in Ueno Park
Tree in Ueno Park lit up with Christmas lights
Photo by Stu
Trees in Ueno Park lit up with Christmas lights
Then we wandered around the large block of laneways south of the station which was a bit of fun looking at all the shops. Stu had a hankering for karaage chicken, but we didn't see anywhere doing that (although that's always difficult when nothing is in english heh). In the end stopped at a yakatori place and had some *very* nice skewers. We had ten small skewers all up, and five beers between us. And they charged us 6588 yen.
This didn't sound right as we were paying the bill, but we're both allergic to confrontation so didn't question it. But we should have. The skewers were 100 yen each, so that's 1000 yen. The beers I'm pretty sure were 390 yen each, so that's 1950 yen. And we got hit with a gaijin cover charge of 300 yen each (this charge wasn't on the Japanese menu). All up the bill should have been 3550 yen. Ok so maybe tax on top. No more than 4000 yen anyways. So where the f$%& did they come up with 6588?? I was so furious. I don't know if it was carelessness, laziness, irresponsibility or just plain malice. But who the f*&% does that people?? Do NOT eat at 鳥どり酒場 !! They will rip you off!!!
Delicious yakatori we had, but do not eat at this restaurant!!
The whole experience with dinner, and in fact the disappointments of the day (did I mention I got sunburnt???) left me feeling pretty bitter about the place. We still have a whole day to get through before we can leave for England.
We were in bed by 8pm.