On our fourth day in Tokyo, we did a bit of sightseeing and wandering.
We started off by visiting the East Gardens of the Imperial Palace.
We found some guard houses:
Beautiful trees and immense walls.
Hidden in one corner is the Fujimi-Yagura watch tower, overlooking the moat.
We passed by a tea garden...
The Ishimuro stone cellar, thought to have been used as an emergency store house,
but rumored to be a secret passage to the old palace.
We walked through a bamboo garden and came upon a music hall.
Which was right next to the Tenshudai Donjon Base - this was the bottom section of the castle's keep. It was completed in 1638 (and burnt down in 1657) and was the tallest donjon ever built in Japan.
The stones are pretty big...
This is what the grounds and buildings of Edo Castle used to look like:
...and this is the view today, which is the center of the East Gardens.
We exited the gardens, over the moat:
Then it was time for a subway ride. We happened upon the "Women Only" car, but it was well after the morning rush hour, so the boys were able to continue to ride with me.
We got off at Ueno Station and found a quick noodle shop for lunch.
Beef and chicken tempura with udon noodles - yum!
Next up was a stroll through Ueno Park, just around the corner from the station.
It's a rather large park, with museums, monuments, and a zoo on one side.
Monument to Shokusanjin, a comedic poet.
We found the statue of Saigo Takamuri, the "Last Samurai", and his dog. His story is what the movie The Last Samurai and Ken Watanabe's character was based on.
Tomb of the Shogi-tai Soldiers:
At the end of the park is a reflection pool and complex of museums - the Tokyo National Museum.
We stopped for a picture with the two museum mascots - Tohaku-kun (terracotta tomb figure on the left) and Yurinoki-chan (modeled after a leaf of a tulip tree in front of the building).
I do seem to love taking pictures of roof tiles and ornaments, so...
We love a good museum, so in we went for a stroll through Japan's culture and history. Inside the museum, there were a ton of artifacts and artwork - too many to include here, but I'll share a few of our favorites:
Yoroi type armor
saddle and stirrups
19th Century, Edo period, formal wear for a court lady
Shamisen stringed instrument by Ishamura Tadashi, dated 1798
Standing Juni Shinsho (12 Heavenly Generals) - statues of the zodiac, 1190-99
Here was the "back yard" of the museum, vibrant even in winter:
large dish, 1881
Michael wanted you to see how big this dish really was.
There were a few stations for us to use stamps and other craft items, and then we headed out.
We found a random whale statue on the way back to the subway. Michael was THRILLED!
After that, we headed back towards Roppongi for dinner. We passed a Lamborghini dealership along the way and then spent a few minutes letting a certain someone run some energy out.
Dinner was at Gonpachi, which looks like a simple building on the outside:
In keeping with our mini-movie theme for this vacation, we dined at the restaurant that inspired the setting for the fight scene in Kill Bill between the Bride and the Crazy 88s.
It's become a fun place to go for tourists and celebrities:
It was hard to get any pictures, due to the lighting, but it had the wood, bamboo, and balconies:
I told Michael to make a "Kill Bill" face:
We had some tasty sushi, tempura, and other items for our "splurge" meal of the trip.
And so ended day 4!
Coming soon - Day 5 and our trip home.