Monday 18th February.
Caught the bullet train back to Tokyo and took the short trip by tube to the hotel. Got all sorted out and enjoyed a really nice American meal last night!
This morning the plan was to take myself off the usual tourist track and see what else I could find in Tokyo. The benefit of having a 4-day Flexible Pass for JREast means you can travel on the train as much as you want. I started at Akihabara and then on to Shibuya. It's a nice walk to the Meiji Jingu shrine, passing through two of Japan's tallest wooden Tori gates at 1mm high.
The shrine was built in 1920 and is quite large. The surrounding gardens are beautiful, even at this time of year, but must be amazing when the cherry are in blossom or the Iris beds are in full flower.
This is a lovely teahouse in the garden park and the next picture is of a shelter looking over the Iris gardens.
Next I took a walk around the Yoyogi Park, but the fountains weren't running and they were doing a lot of maintenance. The National Yoyogi stadium (below) is an impressive building, but as there wasn't much more to see I travelled on to Ueno.
The main shrine is the Toshogu Shrine, built in 1627, but unfortunately presently undergoing repairs. There are so many stone lanterns, one of which is one of the 3 largest in Japan.
Right next to it is a stunning display of dahlias (which I decided not to pay to go and see as I was able to have a peek over the wall). There is also this 5-storied pagoda - really nice!
Ueno Park is really big - even has a zoo in it - and has a large lake. One side of the lake is for boating and the other is for wildlife. In the middle is the Bentendo Temple.
This lovely waterfall is a feature along the lakeside walk.
A short walk out at the South side of the park and you will find Ameyoko market. The streets are crowded with stores selling clothes, general produce, fresh fish and dried food.
There is so much to see and do around Ueno, but I eventually made my way back up to the central boulevard of the park where there is a large Starbucks - great place to rest the weary legs, enjoy a coffee and read a book!
Before leaving Ueno I took myself right off the track up to the Ken-eiji Temple, a Buddhist temple originally built to defend the Edo Castle. It later became the Tokugawa family temple. Although closed, it was very interesting and well worth the visit.
So, a short trip back on the train to Akihabara, a quick visit to the hotel before going out for dinner with a friend and the 2013 trip draws to a close, already!
The final day sees me leaving the hotel at 8am. Tube to Tokyo station and Narita express to the airport. The flights all went well and I landed in Dublin at 5.30pm. My parents met me at the airport and by the time we collected the cases, got to the car park and got up the road it was time for a coffee and snack. We still got home to Portrush for 9pm so the journey from the hotel in Tokyo to home took just 22 hours - down to a fine art!