Continued from Day 10: Kyoto Imperial Palace, Kyoto Gyoen, and Kiyomizudera.
After conking out early (thanks to our wonderful outdoor bath experience), we got up at 5AM the next day to catch our shinkansen out of Kyoto. After the usual prowl for eki-ben (this was going to be another three hour ride), we got on the train, ate our box lunches, and snoozed all the way to Tokyo Station.
Back in Tokyo, we dumped out suitcases in our hotel in Ikebukuro and made out way to Asakusa. Asakusa is one of Tokyo’s most crowded tourist spots, but we were willing to brave it since: 1) it was a first visit for most of the travel group; and 2) we were taking the river bus from there and heading for Odaiba afterwards.
Asakusa’s Kaminarimon and Sensoouji Temple were crowded as feared, but as someone who enjoys crowds (why do you think I enjoy conventions so much?) it was pretty fun. We managed to wade out way through Nakamise Doori all the way to the other side, and back again. Not much shopping was done unfortunately, as we did not find anything off our shopping list.
After walking a block and a half to the ferry station, we bought tickets for the Sumida River cruise from Asakusa station to Odaiba station. Spring is usually a good time to take the cruise, since Sumida river is lined with cherry trees on both sides at different sections of the river. Unfortunately, with the recent cold snap the sakura blossoms were still hiding away.
When we arrived in Odaiba, we had a quick stroll through Aqua City and the Fuji TV Complex. However, what we were really after was the Gundam Odaiba, and it proved harder to find than I had anticipated. Even with Google Maps and GPS, we couldn’t locate the twenty-foot statue — major bummer. So with a lot of disappointment, the group split up and headed home — we were headed for Ryogoku (the sumo neighborhood) and the rest back home to Ikebukuro.
And it turned out that the decision to meet up with local friends in Ryogoku was the right decision, as they helped us find the damn statue by giving us more useful directions than Google Maps. Loaded up with nabe and booze, and equipped with directions, we planned another trip to Odaiba to catch a glimpse of the elusive Odaiba Gundam.
Continued in Day 12: Tokyo Ramen Street and Tokyo Character Street.