Day Six: Akihabara, Ueno, DisneySea
Day Six: Akihabara, Ueno, DisneySea
Day Six of our trip to Japan proved to be another day of adventure for us as we were on our own again since we planned on visiting Tokyo DisneySea for their Starlight Passport (a discounted pass that gets you in after 3pm on weekends and national holidays). But that meant that we had a few hours to kill…
I know that one of the main reasons for our trip to Japan was to try all the different types of Japanese food here but this day turned out to be decidedly lacking in eating – mainly because we were always on the go. We did manage to pick up a quick breakfast at the local McDonald’s near our hotel. They had a few items that were different than the McDonald’s in Canada (including a Chicken and Egg McMuffin) but we decided on passing on the corn soup.
We started out our day by visiting Akihabara, a district of Chiyoda-ku known for being a hub for electronics, video games, anime, manga, and maid cafes. We were on the lookout for some souvenirs and heard this would be a great place to pick up some stuff… especially at the large Yodobashi-Akiba store.
Walking around Akihabara, you could see all of the gaming spots and electronic stores. There was a long lineup of people waiting in front of one of the stores but we weren’t sure what they were waiting for or what the fuss was about.
Inside the Yodobashi-Akiba store, each floor seems to be dedicated to some particular niche. We wound up spending the most time on the floor with all of the sci-fi characters like Godzilla and Star Wars.
I think they were priming up for the Rogue One release when we visited because there was a heck of a lot of storm troopers here.
Since it was just past 10am, we decided on checking out nearby Ueno Park, located in Taitō-ku. This large park dates back to 1873 and was one of Japan’s first public parks. I wish we could have visited here during cherry blossom season!
Near the entrance to the park is a statue of Saigō Takamori, one of the most influential samurai in Japanese history and who became the basis of the film, The Last Samurai.
The park is quite large and has many points of interest including various shrines dotting the landscape.
This is the funeral monument to the Shōgitai, an elite corp of shogun that took part in the Boshin War and the Battle of Ueno.
As we headed down towards the Shinobazu Pond, we came across various food stalls that were just setting up near the Shinobazu no Ike Bentendo Buddhist temple.
The morning autumnal sunlight made for some nice pics in the area.
The pond is quite marshy. Apparently, thousands of years ago, the entire area was just a cove of Tokyo Bay. As the sea withdrew, it left behind extensive marshes that now serves as home for various bird and fish species.
One section of the pond is known as the “Boat Pond” as you can rent boats (many of which are shaped like swans).
The pathway that divides the three sections of the pond is a perfect place to take pics.
Heading back up to the main part of Ueno Park, we came across the Hanazono Inari Shrine and the many vermilion torii gates at the entrance. Because these gates are small, it’s a good spot for selfies but due to the number of people visiting here, it’s difficult to get a shot without people in the background.
We were hoping to get some more colourful shots of trees since it was autumn but the lighting was very challenging.
A little further north, we walked the long pathway that’s lined with stone lanterns up to the ornate Ueno Tōshō-gū Shinto Shrine.
Tokugawa leyasu, the founder of the last shogunate in Japan, is enshrined here (a Tōshō-gū is any Shinto shrine in which Tokugawa leyasu is enshrined at).
Along the pathway, you can see the five-stored pagoda of the Tōeizan Kan’ei-ji Endon-in Buddhist temple. I think it’s located in or around the Ueno Zoo if you decide to stop by here.
As it was, we were trying to stay on schedule and wanted to check out the nearby Ameya-Yokochō market which is an open-air shopping district similar to Takeshita-dōri. Just like at Takeshita-dōri, there were a number of sketchy foreigners who were trying to pressure tourists into buying their wares. There were a number of aggressive kebab sellers – one guy grabbed a passing female and didn’t seem to want to let her go unless she bought a kebab.
After finishing off the flea market, we headed out to Tokyo DisneySea, about an hour away by train.
When you arrive at the Maihama station, you can either head over to Tokyo Disney Resort (which I visited about 35 years ago) or you can head over to Tokyo DisneySea. We figured that it was a better bet to visit DisneySea as it was their 15 year anniversary.
Since we bought the Starlight Passport, we had to wait until 3pm to get into the park. While waiting to get in, we saw one guy who seemed to have had a hard day at DisneySea – he picked up so many souvenirs that they had to strap some to his body. Speaking of which, it seems that Duffy the Disney Bear is a huge thing here! Honestly, I’ve never heard of Duffy before but everyone here had a Duffy.
DisneySea is separated into 7 different theme areas or “ports of call” and you enter into the Mediterranean Harbor.
As it was late afternoon, the sun was just starting to set behind the giant volcano that’s part of Mysterious Island.
The Mediterranean Harbour was one of the interesting areas and they even had gondola rides.
Since we had a short time to visit, we had to power our way through the various ports of call. However, we did wine up seeing Daisy during one of her strolls through the American Waterfront near the Tower of Terror.
Nighttime quickly descended and it was getting quite dark.
By this time, we were literally starving. In our rush to get around today, we hadn’t had anything to eat since our breakfast at McDonald’s. It’s not for lack of trying though. We thought that there would be tons of places to eat at DisneySea. Unfortunately, there were lineup everywhere and we didn’t feel like waiting long to grab some food.
We finally found a spot where the lineups weren’t too long and got some grub at the Cape Cod Cook-Off. It wasn’t great food but it did the trick.
After our much needed respite, we continued on our journey around the rest of the theme park. One of the really interesting spots was Mermaid Lagoon. Much of this part of the park is indoors and looks like you’re underwater.
Kinda psychedelic under the sea!
After rushing through the Arabian Coast and the Lost River Delta, we headed back to the Mediterranean Harbour to catch the nighttime show and fireworks.
As expected, we had a challenging time finding our way back to our hotel afterwards but eventually made it back after a busy and full day of exploring.