By lunch, the historic neighborhood of Fukagawa had already provided us with a surprisingly entertaining day, and we still had a couple things to visit after eating. The Fudo-do Temple dates from 1703, and the nearby Tomioka Hachiman Shrine is famous for its connection to the world of sumo.
Across the Sumida River from Nihonbashi, Fukagawa is one of Tokyo's original fifteen wards. We spent a day wandering around its uncrowded streets, allowing the district to surprise us with an excellent museum, a tranquil garden and, for lunch, a delicious bowl of the neighborhood specialty, Fukugawa Meshi.
It's hard to imagine an experience more perfectly suited to Tokyo, and one less likely to exist anywhere else, than Shinjuku's Robot Restaurant. With a stage show that stretches the definition of terms like "elaborate" and "bizarre," the restaurant has quickly become one of the city's most popular venues.
The world's third-largest stock exchange is found in Tokyo, headquartered in the financial district of Nihonbashi. Guests are welcome to visit the complex, and watch the high-stakes action from a platform above the main trading floor.
Between the shopping mecca of Coredo Mall and the Tokyo Stock Exchange, we came across a quaint museum which feels completely out of place in modern Nihonbashi. The small and cluttered Kite Museum is hidden away without fanfare above Taimeiken, one of central Tokyo's favorite restaurants.
We had a feeling that our visit to Odaiba Island's Miraikan Future Science Museum was going to be awesome, and we were right. The only disappointment came when it closed, and we had to leave. Officially named the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation, this is the most cutting-edge science museum we've ever visited.
When Tokyo wants to relax, it comes to Odaiba, an artificial island which began as a set of defensive fortifications but has become the city's premiere entertainment zone. With museums, arcades, parks and more shopping than a person could possibly need, a day spent in Odaiba will almost certainly be expensive, tiring and loads of fun.
You've been to a casino, right? The ringing sounds, the stale stench of tobacco, the confusion, the sad people so desperate to be happy? All that is familiar. But a pachinko hall takes the wholesome goodness of a casino and condenses it down to its most vile. It exaggerates the sensory overload beyond belief. ¡¡MAXIMIZES THE SOUND!! Multiplies the confusion. Doubles down on the hopelessness. And achieves the impossible, by creating a place of gambling in which I have absolutely no interest.
Kaiseki is Japan's haute cuisine, a traditional meal of several individually-crafted dishes. It's as expensive as it sounds, and since our budget won't allow us to repeatedly indulge in kaiseki, we wanted to be careful about the restaurant in which we'd experience it. After considerable research, we decided upon Tofuya-Ukai. I doubt we could have made a better choice.
On the eastern side of Ueno Park, in the streets around the elevated tracks of the train station, you'll find the Ameyoko Shopping Street: a great place to come when you're in the market for... well, anything. Fish, veggies, shoes, leather jackets and the discrete companionship of attractive ladies are just a sample of what's for sale.