(Ami wakeup time: 5:50. Woohoo!)
We had a plan for this morning! We were going to head back to Yoyogi Park and the Meiji Jingu shrine and then grab a lovely lunch.
We walked outside at 8:15 and… it was raining. And cold. And gray. And yuck! So instead, we went to 7-11 and bought ponchos and umbrellas and walked to Shinjuku Station to take care of some admin travel stuff.
I thought this would take 15, 20 minutes tops, and it took over an hour. But now we have our JR passes and tickets to head to Hakone tomorrow, so yay!
Then, it was on to Isetan department store to check out their depachika. A depachika is basically a food hall, but is also so much more. There were dozens of stands, most about the size of a makeup counter in a department store (though some were much larger), each of which sold an array of beautiful food, from macarons to gorgeous sandwiches to mochi to aged beef to more of those gorgeous strawberries.
(Excuse my finger, please.) There was so much to see! Lines immediately sprung up at some of the most popular stalls. Apparently, today is White Day, a day on which men are supposed to give candy to the ladies who gave them candy on Valentine’s Day, so we think that might have been the source of some of the longer lines at a few of the chocolatiers.
We stopped into a small tea house in the depachika and each ordered a seasonal sweet and a drink – three matchas, one sencha. My Sakura mochi was wrapped in a lightly pickled shiso leaf! And this was my first true matcha. Now I see why there are so many devotees!
After tea, the next plan was to find tempura. And find tempura we did! …after a few false starts, heading up escalators into the wrong building, striding confidently down the street before realizing we were going the wrong direction, et cetera. Turns out the Tsunahachi tempura restaurant was on the 12th floor of the Daimaru department store. But once we found the place, waited in a short line, and were seated… what a view! That’s Tokyo station.
Tsunahachi was terrific, and very friendly! They brought a really nice high chair for the toddler and had an English menu. The lunch specials were only in Japanese, but we were able to muddle through with Google translate.
There was a beautiful shrimp fritter, and onions, and fish, and long conger eel, and sweet potato, and on and on. The most fascinating thing to me, though, was the array of salts for dipping. There was plain salt, wasabi salt, shiso salt, and seaweed salt. So neat!
After that, we parted ways. Logan, Ami and I headed back to the apartment while Tori and Jody went off in search of adventure.
Ami is so into trains now!
Dinner tonight is worthy of a book of its own. We got Ami a sitter and went to Takumi Shingo, an incredible sushi restaurant. Logan researched for days and days to narrow down a list of sushi restaurants that would accept reservations from non-Japanese, and then he leaned on our AirBNB hostess for help. After a lot of back and forth, she was Boe to get us a reservation.
I don’t even know what to say. There were THIRTY-EIgHT courses, and six kinds of sake, and so many perfect bites I can’t even begin to describe them.