Friday, March 19, 2004

Osaka, Japan--Tokyo, Japan--Day 49

Today on my way to Tokyo, which wasn’t a very long flight, I was able to see Mount Fuji from the plane which was really neat. I took a lot of pictures and I think the girl next to me thought I was nuts. Anyways, we landed and my bags were searched by immigration (he had to go through my dirty clothes which were on top so it was a little bit awkward.

I met my driver to the hotel and was stuck in a tunnel for an hour due to an accident or something. It was annoying because I was supposed to meet my friend Sonja (whom was my roommate while I lived in New Zealand) at the hotel and I was going to be late.

We got to the hotel and I checked in but the room wasn’t ready yet, and I had a message waiting from Sonja. So I called her up and she was at a restaurant nearby and was going to finish up things there then come meet me.

I checked in my bags to have the hotel hold them for the day and waited for Sonja. She came and it was so exciting to see her, not only to have a friend for the weekend, but to see Sonja especially since I haven’t seen her in such a long time. She is working on an English teaching scheme here in Japan for two years, so was able to come down for the weekend!

WE got some lunch and then headed to the Tokyo Ueno Zoo via subway, which a little bit less confusing than in Osaka. We had to take the monorail in the zoo to get to the hippos (realizing later that we could have walked) but I haven’t been at a zoo with a monorail before so it was kind of a neat change. The hippos were in full swing when we got there, kind of. Actually it was more like the ranting pygmy hippo next door who was apparently running all around and jumping in the water, then getting out and repeating this over and over. I wasn’t paying attention to it though and luckily this distracted a few people away from our hippos so I could get some good pictures, although it took a little bit for one of the hippos to move around and show her face.

After getting the pictures we headed off to find the names of the hippos, which was discovered at the information desk where they had a huge book with the name of each animal. Now why doesn’t every zoo have one of these? Thanks to Sonja’s stellar Japanese skills, we learned their names (Jiro and Satsuki) and stopped by the pandas on the way out of the zoo.

After leaving the zoo and surrounding park areas, we took the subway back to the hotel and was able to check into the room, which is where we went to Denny’s to get a snack and wait for Sonja’s friend Valerie from her school (who is Canadian) who was also going to be joining us for the weekend. We went to Denny’s because it was right across the road from our hotel (a good waiting point) and thankfully the food was nothing like Denny’s in the States, so I was able to get some surprisingly good noodles.

We went back to the hotel and met Valerie, then the three of us went up to the room and planned our evening. We headed out to have dinner in Ginza (the area of Tokyo that I was staying in) and got dinner at a fun little restaurant which was again on the 6th floor of a business looking building. Dinner was great, and I was really impressed with Sonja and Valerie’s Japanese speaking skills, although they, like the Japanese, won’t admit that they are good at speaking it. After dinner we walked around some and then went back to the hotel to watch a movie and go to bed!

(c) 2004 Sarah Galbraith. All Rights Reserved.