Our last day in Tokyo was sadly uneventful. We spontaneously awoke at 6:30—perhaps because we were both nervous about getting everything in order for the next leg of the trip. (I am writing this on the Keisei train to Narita Airport, actually.) After cleaning up, we dragged our luggage downstairs to store at the front desk.
We thought spending the morning at the Imperial Palace in Marunouchi (just to the west of Tokyo station) would be a nice way to end our stay in this fantastic city. We were wrong. Both of us agree that there is really little to recommend this part of town. The area around the station could be mistaken for downtown Omaha—or any financial district anywhere.
We wandered around trying to find an entrance (most of them are closed to the public) before coming to the East Gardens Gate.The problem with the Imperial Palace is that everything that might have been of interest here was destroyed in World War II, including the original palace itself. The museum in the East Gardens has some of the remaining scraps of tapestries and illustrations of floors and ceiling designs. Not only that, but the palace had been built in the late 1880s, and it was an attempt to Westernize the capital, so everything in it was an imitation of European luxury. In a word, the park and museum are a snooze. Even the gardens, which we were imagining to be tranquil and lush, were sterile and boring. In short, if you have one morning left in Tokyo and you haven’t seen Marounichi, you’re not missing much.
Misou’s obsession for little Japanese pancake balls led us back to Harajuku. Unfortunately, the guy who sells them is only there on weekends. So we wandered back down into Omotesando. Lucky for us, we stumbled upon an underground lunch spot that we might have easily overlooked.
Jingumae wins our “Holy Shit, Look How Much Food You Get for 850 Yen!” Award. Ordering off of “Ippo’s Fixed Lunch Menu,” Misou got a big bowl of udon with delicious tempura pork (which tasted like a deep-fried hybrid of bacon and ham), a bowl of rice covered in shredded salmon and spicy roe paste, while I got ten pieces of sashimi, a bowl of white rice, and a cup of miso. I would have been content with my glass of mugicha (roasted barley tea), but since I hadn’t had sake since arriving in Japan I had to get a glass… If you’re in Shibuya and it’s lunchtime, you should definitely check out Jingumae (located in the basement across from the street sign for Shibuya-ku Jingumae 6-chome 9).
Next up, as we leave Japan behind, a recap…