Thursday: Birkenstocks, Ueno Park, and Shinjuko

Shoe Shopping

Jennica was having shoe and foot problems—flip flops and Vans weren’t cutting it and she needed some different shoes.  The web is a wonderful thing, though, and she found a shoe store specializing in walking shoes.

Took us a while to find the store, or more accurately, walk in the right direction; we ended up finding a different store that carried Birkenstocks and she found a pair she liked that came in black in her size.  Happy Jennica feet.  She’s having a bit of trouble adjusting to the pronounced arch support after wearing shoes without arch supports for so long.  I think once she gets used to them, they’re all she’ll want to wear.  I’ve been alternating between my Mephistos slip on sandals and my Ecco sandals (sure glad I found time for a pedicure before we left).  I brought a pair of Ecco white shoes, but I haven’t worn them even once.  I expected that I would and they and my swimsuit are really the only items I’ve brought that I haven’t used.

Ueno Park

As has become somewhat of a theme, we didn’t have enough time to see all of Ueno Park that we wanted to see.  We went to the zoo, which is Japan’s first and biggest zoo but never managed to get to the National Museum or see the Pagoda.  I keep reminding myself that it isn’t possible to see and do everything—sometimes I believe myself.

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The Zoo

Pandas!  Two pandas!   Elephants!  Bears!  Polar bears!  Sear lions cuddling! Gorillas! Flamingos!  Giraffes!

The zoo was huge—it has an Eastern Garden, a Western Garden and a walk or monorail connecting the two.

When we got into the zoo, the first exhibit we came to was the Giant Pandas.  There was also a large Pandacam stream outside of the exhibit—large as in billboard size.  I didn’t even notice the cam until after we’d left the panda exhibit.  There were two lines to go in—one long, one short.  We weren’t sure of the difference, but chose the long line on the theory that it must be better or people wouldn’t be waiting in it.  We were right—the longer line took us right in front of the pandas; the shorter line was further back.  Both pandas were indoors, in separate enclosures.   They were both eating and so we all watched for a while (hence the long line, since that’s what everyone was doing) and took tons of pictures.  If Jennica’s camera used film instead of being digital, we’d be counting her pictures in terms of rolls of film.  I know they’re wild animals but Giant Pandas are so cool and look so cuddly!

Speaking of cuddly, the sea lions had a cuddle puddle while we were there.  (Stan calls it a puppy pile).  We watched for quite a while as four sea lions climbed out of the water and gathered on a rock “island”.  They were all piled together, some honking was going on, and they basked in the sun.  We watched then for a long time (and took tons of pictures)—they were being very cooperative.

The animals in general were much more active and/or visible than I’m used to seeing in the heat of the day.  One thing we noticed is that it was “raining” in one of the bear exhibits and so the bear was walking back and forth through the rain.  In another exhibit, the misters were going, which again was a favorite place of the animals in the enclosure.

The East Garden exhibits were more modern than the West Garden ones, with more realistic and accommodating enclosures.  One can’t renovate a zoo all at once!

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After cleaning up a bit from our day at the zoo, we took the train to Shinjuku.  It’s a huge entertainment/shopping/business district.  The train station is the busiest train station in the world–both railway and subway.  We all wanted to see it–and we wanted to the Japanese arcades.

City streets
City streets
I was so glad that my new camera has a night setting

Japan 2012 | On our way! | Arrival | On to Kyoto | Nara & Gion Corner | Touring Kyoto |