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What to do in Tokyo today

This is our third full day in Tokyo - what to do in Tokyo today?  We finally ran into a little snag last night at dinner which you can read about  below. In the mean time, to catch up, see our posts (in reverse chronological order) Meiji Jingu Shrine and Cherry Blossoms in Tokyo and 3 movies, 2 meals and some sleep – how long to get to Japan.

Does Rice have Gluten?

Tokyo Zoos baby panda Xiang Xiang baby panda

We found an area just next door to our hotel with 10 different restaurants so we thought we give it a try for dinner.  Surely we can find something good to eat there. And normally we're very adventurous when it comes to eating. But with a gluten allergy and Rosemary allergy, we need to be more careful in a different country. The restaurant directory was clear enough:  pictures with English descriptions. But when we went to each place here's what we found:

  • Buckwheat noodel place:  closed (it was Sunday night after all, but it was the only one closed)
  • Noodle place #1 - zero English menu with no pictures
  • Noodle place #2 - English menu but we couldn't figure out if Dan Dan noodels are wheat based or not.
  • Chicken place - all fried - didn't want to take a chance since likely flour coating
  • Chinese place - the English speaking server claimed that everything contained gluten - even the shrimp with rice.  We know that rice does not have gluten but ... we weren't taking any chances.

We finally found a Thai place where they not only spoke English but explained the menu item by item. They were so nice and the food was SO good. As was the plum wine!

Now, we have to decide what to do in Tokyo today.

Choices - here's what to do in Tokyo today

So today on our last full day in Tokyo we have some choices to make.  What should we do in Tokyo today? We realized we had seen pretty much all the top sites of Tokyo in our last two days.  We asked the concierge for some suggestions and she had a great list:

The subway can be crowded but navigation is easy On the subway, you can see which car you're in and where to exit

  • A one day Mt. Fuji tour complete with gondola ride up to the top for best viewing
  • Explore Odaibba - located at the foot of the Rainbow bridge with an emerging technology center, a giant Ferris wheel, lots of shopping, food and other entertainment venues along the waterfront.
  • A trip to Oshiete Kamakura which was described as a mini Kyoto with several authentic historic shrines and a giant Buddha as well as cherry tree groves.

Each sounded great.  Which one to choose?

Planes, Trains and Automobiles (and buses)!

It's unusual to be able to see Mt. Fuji from Tokyo Mt Fuji from Tokyo Bay

We decided against any of these.  Somehow the prospect of 1 - 2 hours on a train each way followed by other trams or monorail just sounded like way too much travel for us.  We've been on the go for several days now.  We decided that we wanted a "down day" given that we still had 14 more days of touring to go in Vietnam and Cambodia. Sometimes building in some relaxation time makes sense.

So our answer to what to do in Tokyo today is....go to the zoo!.  It's supposed to be 73 F today and sunny - and there's a baby panda bears at the zoo - decision made.

A to Z

The Tokyo Zoo (Ueno Zoological Gardens) is an easy 20 minute metro ride on the Ginza line from our hotel (ANA Intercontinental).  It's located in a very large park (Ueno Park) and is very popular.  It only cost us about $6 each to get in (600 Yen).  Features include the Panda bears (featuring a baby Panda),  Shoebill Storks, Japanese birds, and snow monkeys.  How can you not love snow monkey?

Apparently everyone else in Tokyo had the same idea - we waited in line about 30 minutes to get into the park.  Seeing the baby Panda (Xiang-Xiang) required timed entry tickets.  Each group of 12 people got 30 seconds in each of four separate viewing locations.  Doesn't sound like a lot, but actually it was enough time.  As you can see there's a lot of sleeping going on with Pandas.

What to do in Tokyo Today?

Try the zoo in Ueno Park!

Even the lunch is panda themed Lunch - a Panda shaped rice meal

We spent about 5 hours total in the park and saw just about all the exhibits while having time for a leisurely snack.   For dinner we ended up stopping off at Ginza shopping area on the way back for an early dinner.  This time we ate at a Okonomitaki place.   The server was fantastic and recommended several great dishes including an eggplant rice dish and shrimp Okonomitaki - each of which was terrific.

Tomorrow we leave Tokyo early and start our trip to Vietnam.

Interested in reading more?  Browse through our other trip reports as well as over 100 blog posts on topics like travel trends and destinations, travel insurance, alternative travel suppliers (ie: not mass market) and river cruises.  They can all be access here.  You can also sign up for our quarterly newsletter which will be sent to your email.

Here's some other fun Zoo pictures from Tokyo

Cormorant at Tokyo Zoo Cormorant

The Tokyo Zoo had many lotus flower Remnant of last seasons' Lotus flower.

Shoebill Stork Tokyo Zoo Shoebill Stork stalking

Tokyo Zoo Shoebill stork The Shoebill Stork

Tokyo Zoo Snow monkey Japanese Macaque or Snow monkey

Snow monkey Tokyo Zoo Deep thoughts

Tokyo Zoo Panda bear Daddy Panda bear

Pagoda at Tokyo Ueda Zoo was built in 1639 Pagoda at Tokyo Zoo

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