On the first full day of the trip, James, Brandi, and I explored Ueno, Tokyo while waiting for Nicole and Paul to arrive. You can watch the video on my YouTube channel.
After waking up at 5AM local time and being unable to fall back asleep, I put on my eye mask and laid in bed for a couple of hours. After we all decided that sleep wasn't going to happen, we left our Airbnb around 9AM to head to the Ueno Zoo. The train/subway ride was 30-45 minutes.
The Ueno Zoo is in a massive park with a museum, a few shrines, some statues, and the biggest standalone Starbucks I've ever seen. We primarily went to the zoo to waste time while waiting on Nicole and Paul to arrive later in the day, but we were also there to see the giant panda. Along with the panda we saw a polar bear, tiger, elephants, birds, and gorillas.
After the zoo we wandered around the area for a bit, stopping by a shrine. We then made our way to get lunch at Cocoichiban, a chain curry restaurant. I ordered the vegetarian curry with spinach and eggplant, and a scrambled egg. Spicy level 2.
From there we walked to a nearby lotus pond that was at least 5 acres in size if not larger. It had a floating dock which we could walk out onto that was surrounded by lotuses. We spent some time there, still waiting on Nicole and Paul to land, then headed to see Tokyo Dome City. On our way there we stopped by another shrine.
Tokyo Dome City was FULL of k-pop fans. I think there was a signing or something to get ready for upcoming concerts, but people were lined up for autographs or pictures in what looked like at least a two hour line. After spending an hour or so people watching, we walked to Tokyo Station to meet Paul and Nicole!
We walked around some fountains near the Imperial Palace, then headed back to our Airbnb to drop bags off. After hanging out for a bit we set out looking for dinner. I was getting really tired at this point but was also hungry. It was probably 6PM or 7PM.
It took us probably 30 minutes to find somewhere to eat. We passed another shrine that we walked through, then landed at a local spot where they spoke zero English. We used the Google Translate app to sorta read the menu but that didn't work. Luckily the waiter knew salmon, tuna, octopus, and sashimi so we ordered those roles and a sashimi plate.
I was fighting off falling asleep at this point, but we made it back to the apt. I dumped the footage from that day onto my computer and then fell asleep immediately.
On day two of the trip we explore Akihabara and Rainbow Bridge.