The hotel may have been cheap, but it did offer a great free breakfast bar downstairs. After munching down on bagels, rolls and coffee, we headed for the train station via taxi. First, we returned to Shin-kurashiki via local train, then rode a  local shinkansen to Okayama and finally caught an express shinkansen to Tokyo (pictured). It was a five hour trip from start to finish.

When we arrived in Tokyo, we were greeted by our second exchange student family who would be our hosts for the next two days.

Our first stop from the train station was to see the Tokyo Tower. There are actually two observation decks, one about a third of the way up and one about two-thirds of the way up.


From the first observation deck, you can see the city of Tokyo behind us. They had a really clever way to manage the elevators between coming and going tourists. Incoming tourists would come out on the main deck and then go downstairs to take the same elevators back to the ground floor. That way there aren't folks trying to enter and exit the same elevator at the same time. 

A view of Tokyo. On the lower level there were interactive displays below the window that allowed you to tap a picture of a building or other landmark visible from that vantage point and get the name and other details about it.

On the mouse over picture, everyone is looking out at the view from the upper level.


After Tokyo Tower, we went to our host's home to drop off our bags and meet the rest of the family. We discussed where we should visit that evening and I mentioned that I was looking for some Kodansha bilingual manga books. Their son suggested a store he knew of in Shibuya.

It was just a short walk to the neighborhood train station and we were on our way. Imagine my surprise when we entered a building, took an elevator to the basement and discovered that I'm in none other then the Mandarake manga & anime store. The clerk was in cosplay and a girl dressed as Sailor Mercury was singing "Moonlight Densetsu" on stage. I wish I could have taken some pictures, but cameras and bags were banned from the store. You had to put all your belongings in a coin locker outside the store. It was a rare trove of anime and manga treasures. I could have wandered those aisles for hours but we really didn't have the time right then. And no Kodansha, so on to the next bookstore, Book 1st. There Jennifer's friend found an entire wall of Kodansha bilingual books for me. Mission accomplished!

The mouse over picture is a night time view of the streets. Jennifer and her friend went into one of these little parlors that had countless photo booths where they took some of those postage stamp pictures together.

For dinner, our host took us to a Korean barbeque restaurant. We were given raw beef, chicken, various vegetables and sauces. Using a small hibachi built into the center of the table, we grilled our own meal, each to our particular taste. It was such a heavenly treat.

To my delight, the guestroom where I stayed was completely Japanese in all respects. The tatami mat floors, the paper sliding doors, the futon and even a square spring-driven alarm clock next to the pillow.

There was a small earthquake at about 5 in the morning. Because I was on the third floor, I was awoken when the room started swaying a few inches side to side. Our host said this routinely happens about once or twice a month.