Note: I’m relying on Jm’s notes and my memory from here; I neglected my journal keeping during the remainder of the trip.
Friday the 13th… not sure if it has the same superstitious connotations here, but it did bring cloudy weather to Tokyo. We decided to spend the day exploring Tokyo Bay; after our last breakfast at Jurin (3245¥), we hopped on the train and transferred to the monorail (1700¥ for the day) that would take us across the bay to Odaiba-kaihin-koen. The ride provided us with some interesting views of the city and the Rainbow Bridge.
Our guidebook told us that a familiar face would greet us once we exited the station; a smaller version of Lady Liberty was on display in the center of the park. I was also greeted by the realization that every anime featuring the area has been remarkably accurate, right down to the giant Ferris wheel visible in the distance. Tokyo Bay is a series of connected parks, and we decided to start by strolling through Shiokaze-koen. It was a stroll along the boardwalk and piers; we took our time, relaxed, and enjoyed the view of the city. There were few people in the park, but we did find a large patch where various school groups and families were picnicking.
We made our way back through Shiokaze-koen and strolled along the Odaiba-kaihin-koen beach. Couldn’t see any windsurfers out, but there were a few people playing with and walking their dogs. There were also a few men sprawled out on the sidewalk napping; they looked like they might have been construction works. Good to see "Don’t kill the job" is a universal concept. The beach connected into the Daiba-koen peninsula. It was a perfect way to cap off our stay in Tokyo, just walking and unwinding in a peaceful setting.
We grabbed a few drinks from a vending machine (150¥) before heading back to the monorail; love that Aquarius. Wish the Asian supermarkets here carried it. Most of the day was gone by the time we reached the hotel, and we were quite hungry. Man cannot live on Aquarius alone; we flipped through the Lonely Planet guide and decided to try our hand at shabu-shabu. The guide suggested a place in Shinjuku called Ibuki, and the Lonely Planet guides have never failed us when it comes to restaurants. Ibuki was not the exception to this rule; we were seated and surprised to find the hostess (possibly the owner?) spoke fluent English. We were even more surprised when she simply asked “Lonely Planet?” That guidebook must be driving a lot of business to the place; wonder how much of an investment it was to make sure they made it in.
The hostess was very friendly and attentive, helping us through the whole meal. We ordered the beef shabu-shabu (8159¥); it was quite the meal – beef, shiitake and other Japanese mushrooms, tofu, rice noodles, leeks, and even some leaves related to the chrysanthemum. She showed us how to swish the beef in the broth to cook it; we had two sauces available, one vinegar based and another sweeter sauce. Once we had our fill of beef and veggies, the broth was poured into bowls as a soup to round out the meal. Wish I had taken some pictures like Flickr user varf did, but I was too busy enjoying the meal to think about it.
Before we left, the hostess handed us each a bag of Japanese candy; we thanked her profusely for the meal, her help, and her kindness. I can’t recommend this place enough, great food served, great staff. It was another perfect touch to end our Tokyo stay. We had nothing left to do but walk back to the hotel, pack, and grab some sleep before heading off to Kyoto.