After Harajuku, we hopped on the Yamanote line for Shinjuku. I had visited the area briefly with one of my traveling companions a few days earlier and it was easy to believe that Shinjiku station is the busiest in the world (over 3.5 million people pass through each day!). The station itself is huge and this time we exited in a different direction than we had previously.
We rested a bit after our adventures in Ikebukuro, we visited Roppongi Hills to get tickets to the Observation Deck on the 52nd floor so we could see Tokyo in all its nighttime glory. We could see the Tokyo Tower lit up from the main plaza of the Roppongi Hills complex.
We awoke on Day 9 to a cold and rainy day in Kyoto. We were scheduled to catch a morning Shinkansen back to Tokyo so we packed up and straightened up before saying good-bye to our traditional house.
After visiting three temples in succession, we were ready for a break and some food before darkness fell so we headed for the Gion district to do some shopping and get a bite to eat. Sunset hits at 4 pm so we had a couple of hours of daylight left to browse around the main street, Shijo Dori.
Day 7 saw us arise bright and early to head to Shibuya Station so we could catch the Narita Express for our Shinkansen to Kyoto. Though it had rained the previous day, we were fortunate in clear dry weather. However, we had a cold snap and it was really chilly – with wind. Brrr! One of my friends had a companion to keep him warm, though.
We were fortunate to have no rain on Day 5 of our trip to Japan and since the sky was clear, the 2 of us who were awake decided to find a nice vantage point for a view of Shibuya. We eventually found that the 11th floor of the Hikarie building was open and we were able to have a nice view of the city.
After a late night of karaoke that saw us back to our rented apartment late (or, rather, early in the wee hours of the morning), I got up early so that I could visit the Tokyo office of the company I work for. Two of my three companions also work for the same company (it’s how we met years ago) so they joined me on my trek to Tokyo Station and the office.
My teammates based in San Francisco and I have been privileged to work with some truly phenomenal people from the Tokyo office but none of us had ever met them face to face. So, with some small San Francisco-themed gifts from our team in tow, we headed for the Yamanote line (JR Train) to take us from Shibuya Station to Tokyo Station. The office is across the street from the station so it was easy to get to. Here is a shot of the 100-year-old restored station with the office building I visited in the background.
Our day 2 in Japan happened to fall on the United States’ Thanksgiving holiday. One of my companions (my host in Taiwan) had a particular dream about Thanksgiving in Japan and, since it was one of his main requirements for coming with us on this trip, we decided to indulge him and head to his specified establishment for Thanksgiving dinner.
Day 2 was our first full day in Japan and I awoke after the best night’s sleep I have had during the entire trip. Seriously, the futon was really comfortable!
We made our way back to the Shibuya scramble crossing in the dry daylight via the overpass walkways. It’s a nice way to cross some really busy intersections and the bus terminal!
After 11 days in Taiwan, we awoke early to grab a taxi and head for the airport to catch our flights to Japan. Two of us were on ANA (All Nippon Airways / Air Japan), our host from Taiwan was flying on China Air, and our host’s childhood friend had booked on…Vanilla Air. Seriously, that’s a real airline.
The flight attendants on our ANA flight were very helpful and polite. Their English was also very good, which helped us a lot. Surprisingly, ANA served a meal for our ❤ hour flight. When I used to fly to Mexico from Detroit on a longer flight I never got a meal but then I was flying via an American airline so I guess that’s to be expected.