Monday, May 4, 2015

Tokyo Adventure III Day 8: Ashikaga & Ginza (Kabuki-Za)

It's our last full day in Tokyo... our trip is winding down, but we kept super busy!  Today was the day we were supposed to check out of our hotel and check into the new hotel.  We checked the night before if we could leave our luggage at our hotel and they said that was fine.  I love Toyoko Inn! 

Paul mapped out our route to Ashikaga and estimated about 2 hours travel time.  He said we had to leave early so that we could catch a certain Shinkansen. So we decided to leave the hotel around 7:00am.  We checked out early and saw that they had the breakfast out, so we tried to sneak in one last meal before we left.  Just as we sat down, the shuttle to Ueno Station (a regular shuttle provided by the hotel) arrived and was leaving soon.  We gobbled down our food and hurried to catch the shuttle.  This would save us some time and totally worth it.

After we got to Ueno, we bought our tickets for the Shinkansen.  Luckily, Paul decide to get us the Non-Reserve seats, so it was ok that we missed the first train.  We could hop on any one after that and it would be ok.   Caught Denise sleeping on the Shinkansen again.  LOL!

The shopping guide located in the seat pocket was pretty entertaining...  We saw plenty of gadgets and other products that were amusing.  Like this toe retainer for example.  It helps to prevent your toes from growing where the two ends touch.  Believe it or not, my grandmother had toenails like that!  She could've used this gadget! LOL!

Mom's are always dependable.  She and my sister always carried a sufficient supply of snacks.  Mom kept reminding me that she had the popcorn I wanted her to buy, so we munched on that while we waited for the next train.  Good thing we had a snack, cause the next train didn't come for another hour.  Yikes!  That totally threw off our whole day.  I guess trains don't come around as often in the country than it does in the city.

After we got off the train to Ashikaga, it was a 15 minute walk to the flower park.  I guess everyone knows it's in full bloom right now, so there were a lot of visitors to the park.  Once you get to the park, you need to buy a ticket to get in.  It was about 1700 yen each, but totally worth it!  Once we got in, we breezed through a gift shop to get through to the garden area.  Our time was limited, so we tried to see as much as we could while we were there.  Mom was in awe once she saw all the blooms!

Purple wisteria- so beautiful!!

Pink Wisteria- very pale pink but oh so pretty!

Purple Wisteria Tunnel- I loved the tunnels!  The individual flowers reminded me of the crown flower or mini orchids.

So pretty!!! I just love the waterfall look.

This is the double wisteria.  It doesn't hang as low, but each flower is bulkier since it is a double bloom.

I think my favorite was the white wisteria!  This would be a perfect wedding photo shot!

Here we are under the white wisteria..

Here you can see it up close...

Here's one of the trees that was outside of the tunnel.

Other flowers were in bloom too!

We took picture in front of the azaleas.  I guess this photo is a good example of why you don't take selfies in the sun. LOL!

I thought this pyramid was interesting!  Love the colors!

This bush reminded me of cotton balls.

So pretty!  Love it!  Like mini hydrangeas!

Here's the yellow wisteria.  I think its not quite as cultivated as the rest of the tunnels.  Many were in bloom but it wasn't as dense as the other wisteria tunnels.  Still pretty though!

And more of us by the purple wisteria..

After the fastest omiyage shopping ever (a record 5 min), we headed back to the train station.  Mom wanted to take a taxi, so we all tried to jump into one.  I had a feeling we all wouldn't fit since Japanese taxis are pretty small.  I'm amazed we made it, but what you don't see is mom is sitting on Denise and Denise is sitting on me. LOL!

We were all cracking up because the driver was trying to explain to us that he had to go around, but mom tried to tell him no, we don't have time for a tour of the area, we have a time schedule.  LOL!  I told mom I think he's trying to tell us he has to go around.  We took the long route, but overall, I think was shorter than walking back.  I'm sure we gave him a good laugh!

We made it back on the train in time and then transferred to the Shinkansen.  I love the Shinkansen!  It's my favorite mode of transportation.  Paul kept missing taking video of it.  Hopefully we'll catch it again one day.

I also love that everything is so well planned in Japan.  Take for instance, my seat on the Shinkansen.  It had a hook that popped out of the chair for my bag, there is also racks above the seat and another bag hook on the wall.  There is also a tray in case you plan to eat or need a desk, and a cup holder!!!  Love it!  Plus there's more room than on an airplane!

Wanted to just show you how long the escalator was.  Happy we could take that instead of the stairs!

I forget what station this is, but mom wanted me to get a picture of how many stairs we had to climb during the trip.  My legs were aching for days!

We finally made it back to Ueno Station. Yay!  After a mix up with our tickets, we finally got into the station and decided to look for food.  Mom chose a katsu place that was amazing!  If you are at Ueno Station, check for the restaurants on the 2nd floor. Its the one all the way at the end.  While waiting for a table, they took our order so we didn't have to wait as long once we got seated.

The waitress told us how to make the katsu sauce.  First you get the sesame seeds and grind it up.

Then you add the katsu sauce. Theirs was made with apples and dates?

Paul and Denise got the Lion (Katsu) Don.  It was pretty awesome. I had a bite and would definitely order that myself!

Here's my lunch. I ordered the tonkatsu and crab katsu combo.

The crab katsu was awesome!

Here's a picture of the front- I guess it's called Katsukura?

Then we stopped at a omiyage shop called Sugar Butter Tree. I had scoped out the shops earlier and this one caught my eye, so I made a pit stop before we headed back to the hotel.  I still haven't tried it yet, but my mom, sister and husband all say its awesome. 

After we got back, we picked up our luggage from Toyoko Inn and headed to Hotel Kuramae, which was a few blocks away.  Now that doesn't sound so far right?  Try lugging heavy bags that far and then get back to me.  I think mom got back strain from carrying to heavy bags.

We finally found the hotel... I don't like to bad mouth establishments, but I will say that I sure missed Toyoko Inn!  Hotel Kuramae had it's own charm.. check out the phone in our room.  I haven't seen one of these phones since I was a little girl.  I bet Akemi wouldn't know how to use it. LOL!

After we checked in, we had like 10 minutes to get ready to go to a Kabuki.  My friend recommended this for my mom and Mom was excited to go.  So we ordered the tickets online and this was the only night we could've gone.

We caught the subway to Ginza and the Kabuki-za is right above the station.  We just made it in time!  We were pretty high up as you can see.

There were a total of 3 stories.  The Kabuki lasted 5 hours.  This was my favorite of the three. I think it was about a snake.

Paul liked this one too- I think he liked the musicians.

Those guys with the fans are supposed to be the snakes body.

This guy is supposed to battle the snake in a tug-o-war.. but somehow I missed it. Wait.... they just talked about it but didn't actually do the tug-o-war.  Darn. That woud've been good to see!

After 5 long hours, we said goodbye to Kabuki and headed back to the hotel.  Paul and I went to go get some food and decided to try more ice cream.  These weren't as good as the 711 one.  Just sayin!

One last post to do!  Can't believe the trip is over!

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