Thursday, March 25, 2010

Sumida to Odaiba

My friend from grad school came to visit this week. Fortunately the first day of her visit was a holiday for me, so I was able to go out with her, show her around a bit and help her get oriented. We headed out to Asakusa (home of the golden turd, right) to catch the water ferry (below) down the Sumida River. It was a really nice and sunny day (unfortunately the last she would get for the week) and the cruise down to the harbor was pleasant and peaceful. We went under about a half dozen bridges and saw a view of Tokyo that you don't often see. I highly recommend it, particularly for the first day of your visit.

The ferry let us off at the Hamarikyu teien, which was the official garden of the Emperor during the Edo period. It is a veritable oasis in the middle of towering skyscrapers, with several ponds, former duck hunting meadows, and an old tea house.

The garden has a huge meadow of golden flowers. I think it may change every season. A lot of people were out that day enjoying the unusually nice weather.

Once in Odaiba, we went to the Oedo Onsen, which tries to recreate an Edo era feel. Guests choose from about 12 different yukatas and can wander around in an old timey arcade with numerous ice creams, foodstuffs, arcade games and old school games that involve picking various toys and what not out of water. The onsen itself was separated by gender and had a big selection of baths at different temperatures, some clear and sparkling, others were a brownish color from the minerals.
One can also don the gold heavy jacket (right) and stroll outside where there is a bridge and severals foot baths. One such bath is full of tiny carp or some kind of sucker fish. For ~$15 more, you can soak your feet in the bath and have the fish go to town chewing off your calluses and dead skin. It is a very disturbing feeling I have to admit, but my feet were baby bottom soft when it was all said and done.

After the onsen, we took a nice walk around the waterfront of Odaiba, saw the sunset and headed home. A pretty nice day, and along the way, my friend became familiar with navigating the subway system for the rest of the week when she would have to do it solo.

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