turning 43 in Tokyo: sumo, shopping, and sushi

I awoke at 5am on June 7 and walked to the nearest 7-11 for breakfast of eggs and some triangular rice thing with meat inside before taking the train down to a sumo gym to watch giant men in diapers push each other outside of a dirty circle.  There weren’t any matches going on during our stay, so we found that the Arashiobeya gym allows folks to quietly watch through the window from the street, which sounds worse than it is–the wrestlers are actually quite close to the windows, which are open, so we could hear the slapping sounds of their enormous chests slamming into each other at the start of every contest.

We then went to Tsukiji market, where all the fish that go to sushi restaurants all over Tokyo arrive, get inspected, and get chosen.  There’s also lots of food to buy and eat in the “outer market” area, so we tried some desserts and meats on sticks before sitting down for “conveyor belt” sushi at Sushizanmai.

We went to the Park Hyatt, since 1) the concierge was supposed to have our baseball tickets for later in the trip (we’re staying there our last night in Japan) and 2) I wanted to have a drink in the New York Bar featured in “Lost in Translation.”  The bar didn’t allow children (or open until 5pm), so we had cocktails and mocktails at the Peak Lounge instead, which was still 40-something floors up and offered great views, ambiance, and drinks.  It was there that I introduced the children to Bob Harris’s “For relaxing times, make it Suntory time” commercials from the film, and it became a running joke for the rest of our trip.

Shortly after noon, we went to Meiji Jingu Shrine. It was our first shrine, so we got to learn how to wash our left hand, then our right hand, then our mouth (via water in our left hand), and then our left hand again before walking up to a shrine, and how we remove our shoes, bow twice, clap twice, and then bow again before entering to show respect.  We also saw a 450-year-old Bonsai tree (among younger trees) and an enormous Torii gate.

We spent the next few hours going into various stores, including an enormous vintage record store called Disk Union, where I picked up several hard-to-find albums from U2 and The Cure. We got ice cream at “the zoo,” and then watched the insanity that is Shibuya crossing.

That evening, we had 6pm reservations at the amazing Ginza Kyubey, where Phil got sushi on the PBS show we watched to prep for our trip.  It was hard to find and was our family’s most expensive meal together ever, I think, but the food was outstanding.  See the pretty fishes?

I loved it.

I’d hoped to go out afterward, but given the jet lag and the long day we’d had, all 5 of us were pretty exhausted by the end of dinner, so we returned to our AirBnB to get some sleep at about 8pm. And also? I figured since June 7 was just getting started in the States, when we woke up on June 8 in Tokyo, I’d have my second (American) birthday!

And that’s exactly what I did…

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