On the seventh day, we spent most part of the day traveling in the car. When we woke up, our wonderful host, Masako served us with traditional Japanese nian gao (年糕) soups and home-made yogurt with cut fruits.
After filling our tummies, we lingered around and lazed for a while more before we bid farewell to Masako and her two sons, Toshiki and Motoki. Although we only got to interact with them for less than 48 hours, Rachel and I were very touched by the Asai’s friendliness and hostility. Being able to converse with them in English was also an interesting experience for us as the two of us had been mostly silent throughout our trip due to the language barrier.
We took off from the Asai’s comfortable home during late morning and headed for Ueno (上野), Tokyo.
We were finally moving closer to the big city. On our way there, we visited a shrine which housed a giant Buddha statue and a giant Guan Ying (观音) statue. The shrine was located high up a steep mountain top – climbing up almost killed me! The toilet was located besides the shrine. Hence visitors will have to pay the entrance fees and complete the steep slopes in order to relieve themselves – pure evil. This was what happened to the four of us who needed to clear our bladders after a long drive.
We reached Ueno at late noon. After returning the car to the Toyota rental store, we walked to nearby Cube Hotel, the hotel where we will be staying for the next two nights. Rachel and I like this hotel very much. Like the Super Hotel chain, Cube Hotel is a business hotel packed with hi-tech gadgets, making full use of the limited room space.
Once we checked in, we simply dumped our luggage into our rooms and headed immediately for Ueno Station (上野駅) to travel out for a very late lunch cum dinner (the last meal we had was the breakfast at the Asai’s residence). Mark wanted to check out the local Mandarake (まんだらけ) to buy more Transformers toys to add to his huge collection. Mandarake is one of Tokyo’s largest vendor of used anime and manga-related products. They have outlets across Japan and we will be visiting quite a few more Mandarakes in the later part of our tour; due to Mark’s persistence in trying to buy up all the Transformers toys in the world.
As we were starving… once we got off the train, we settled for dinner at the nearest, reasonably-priced restaurant. Big mistake as the food was tasteless although the prices were cheap.
After dinner, it was shopping time. While the guys headed to the manga and anime shops, the ladies went shopping for clothings. I was quite shocked by the high prices Dragonball cards fetch in Japan. Mark and I had both accumulated a large collection during our growing up years. After we learn about their value, Mark resolved to bring his collection to sell on his next trip to Japan. Unlucky me can only feel pissed at my own misfortune as my dad had threw my collection away a few years ago without telling me…
The shopping made us hungry again quickly. Hence we headed to a sushi restaurant for a second round of food. Rachel and I tried Chutoro sushi – the second most prime cut of a tuna fish, for the first time. It really melts in your mouth like how food guides like to describe it. Oishi!
We then headed back to the train station to return to our hotel to rest for the night. Still hungry, we bought burgers at McDonald’s to munch on our way back. That ended our day.
Links to my previous blog entries on my Japan trip:
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