Thursday, September 16, 2010

Tokyo Trip Part 2

(Due to Fulbright Fellowship official duties, Tokyo day 2 blogged by Darrin)

Beth gone, Dad and dudes head out on the town. First stop, ko-hi (Coffee) shop in Shinbashi train station. Cinnamon buns just as good as home.

We got ideas for things to do from Tokyo Fulbrighters (Guess what? Stinking hot). Headed for the (indoor) emerging science museum in Odaiba. Perhaps the coolest part, got to ride on a relatively new JR subway/monorail line-front seats! (Don't worry, Max was driving while Alek and Hugo horsed around).
Nice ride under the highway. Brooklyn Bridge, coming up....
"Now when we come off the turn, really hammer it down!"
Cool bridge views- a bit on the safe side, I must say.

So, to summarize, this place was awesome. Typical Tokyo style-B-I-G and slick. Nothing like a nice, ~40 ft diameter LED globe hanging in a 4 story atrium on entry. It showed the clouds, temperature, ocean currents, or jet streams over a recent 30 day period. Also quite nice space music in the background causing many customers to unabashedly nap on couches in atrium.

No napping for these fellows, though. Too much fun stuff to see. First stop, Asimo the robot from Honda circa 2002. Asimo is in the closet to the left. The staff guy is announcing the beginning of the show in 10 minutes. Certain people wanted front row for this one.
Asimo walked out and talked to the crowd (in perfect Japanese, of course).
Asimo showed its (his? hers? Kind of had a female-ish voice... must email the Honda people about this) tai chi-like moves. It could also kick a ball and run all on its own. When running it looked a bit like it was tip toeing. They say the new robots are much more human-like. Coming next year to the science center!
Next up, Max and Hugo have to work together to make a robot walk, turn, and duck/stand. This was training for the virtual reality sim ride where you sit in a simulator with a view as if you are inside the robot and driving it! But it was dark and you had to wear funky glasses and all under the age of seven had enough after 2 seconds, much to the chagrin of those over the age of seven.
So we watched another staff member work his magic instead.

Very cool music section-iPad to control calipers to whack different things for funky music.
Futuristic instruments

And, of course, the science museum wouldn't be complete without the body section. "Who ordered the brain stem!?"

Hugo: "So we're putting this guy's brain in reversed so that when he wakes up, he will talk and walk backwards."
Just to highlight a couple more things, kids had a great time making their own bugs via computer. "Would wings on the thorax be conducive to evolution?" (Actual question in English on the monitor). This level of sophistication was all over the place. We got to walk into a neutrino detector (!) complete with equations on the wall describing particle physics. Like, whoa.

A solid 6 hour day about over.
Odaiba-The contraption from Contact must be around here somewhere...

Ah, there are the napping couches I alluded to earlier-even comfy when the globe show was telling you how the world was baking itself into Mercury territory.

Couple of last stops. A visit with Doreamon, the gadget cat from the future. So Max tells me.

The Doreamon exhibit had a thing where you could be invisible. Didn't quite come out as good as it was in person.
Ok! We get the point that things are getting hotter!

Hugo said bye to Asimo.
"I'm not leaving."
Hugo drew a suggestion for the next class of robots in Japan.
He called it the "Convenient Bot" and signed his name in katakana so that "the Japanese kids can read my name."
Time to go. Alek said that we didn't take any pictures (!!) and that he wanted a picture of a rock. And so it was done.

Bye bye emerging science museum.

And it's back to steering the train on home.
Debate back in Shinbashi. A quick refresh from the SunKus store or...
better yet, a refresh from the alley vending machines. Mommy home any minute. City and family--sans interpreter--survived.

Later, all five of us went in search of the perfect Toyko dining experience. We got distracted by this funky ride:

All of these cheap restaurants are built underneath the train tracks. While we were eating, we heard rumbles every 2 minutes. Here we were shopping for a good place--all menus displayed, often with pictures.

Here's another funky ride....this one is actually a car.

We considered this place....

Distracted again, this time by some strange melting ice things in the street...

We almost went in here--you could cook your meat on the table with these cool exhaust fans.

We finally picked this yakitori place. That means "chicken cooked on sticks." So we ate chicken in different forms. Breast, back, wings, ground up (and I mean, ground up with everything...kind of crunchy). We skipped the chicken skin--again--and also passed on the skewers of chicken heart and liver. Sorry, not so adventurous.

Very helpful English menu.

Look at us attacking these fries!

We had an ohashi traffic jam at the bowl of pickles, too. I swear this shot is not posed!

This shot is for you, Mike. Sorry--it's still not Yebisu. That stuff is way too rich for us.

Back at the hotel, another more combini dessert festival. Max is enjoying soft serve ice cream from a squeeze pack. Hugo and I had my favorite--waffles stuffed with ice cream and chocolate. I think Alek is having some kind of grape ice.

What about Tuesday, you ask? What did we do then? We won't post 'til tomorrow night. But it was big. Really big. Here's a hint:


  1. Where are the napping couches in America? I want napping couches!

    Also, I love the English menus.

  2. You all are having TOO much fun! The science museum looks awesome and I love seeing all modes of transportation. Everything looks so sterile, I mean clean, in Japan. True? The food & restaurant are making me want to hop on a plane and join you. The snack options seem abundant for the boys. Mira would be in heaven...and I would be happy with a big plate of ebi sushi...and Kurt would be on the hunt for the most odd things to see, eat, and do.

  3. How're you going to keep them down on the farm, after they've see Pariee? Or...Tokyo! Wow! Love, Gramma