Okay, bad stuff first (but not so bad): man, my feet are hurting. I've been on them for over a week now, and they're starting to hurt real good. Good thing I also have a high tolerance for pain. Also, Japan makes me feel fat (well, tall, too). I swear I don't fit anywhere -- and Japan is really, really tight on space. Or at least Tokyo is -- it's astounding how much crap they squeeze into this place.
So, good stuff: finally rode the Yamanote line all the way around Tokyo (first time I'd ever been to the part of the loop between Ueno and Ikebukuro, actually). Cheap fare, since we just went around and two stops farther to Ueno (from Akihabara, where the Tsukuba Express terminates, that being the closest line to our hotel). Where we wandered through Ueno Park and went to the Tokyo National Museum.
The cherry blossoms weren't quite blooming in Ueno Koen, unfortunately, although people were already camping out to reserve spots for the 花見 (flower viewing), and lots of people were getting their drink on pretty good by the time we left the park. We wandered over to the lake and temple, but spent most of our time in the museum, which at 600円 is a pretty good deal. We saw lots of cool stuff (although, actually, a lot of it was also kinda wasted on us, since we didn't have enough context to appreciate it, although I'm sure it was astounding if you happened to be Buddhist). Our favorite bits were the samurai weapons and armor, probably, and I also really liked the caligraphy (both Japanese, and Chinese in the building with all the Asian art. Although, apparently, Egypt is part of Asia, but never mind that). The grounds of the museum (and the park as a whole, actually) is also pretty nice.
Anyway, looking for a place to sit down near Ueno station, we found the funkiest Starbucks you can imagine in what used to be, well, one of those rotating garage things they have in Tokyo. Not much of a menu, but it was shelter from the cold (it was getting dark by this point) and had chairs.
After that... Off to Akihabara to meet folks for birthday festivities. I got stuffed on yakiniku (a.k.a., "Korean BBQ") and fed lots of beer, and afterwards, we headed off to a karaoke booth, where many songs were sung, beer was drunk, and festivities continued. Besides Dusty and my friend from Tokyo, four other members of the Nippon2007 committee attended, including Mr. Chairman and his wife. Everyone gave me wonderful presents, and while I know I shouldn't pick favorites, the best were the sushi fridge magnets that made me squee when I saw them -- it was the best possible gift, I think.
Also, I got a 2000円 bill that someone had (totally cool, that was something I really wanted to find while I was in Japan), which I traded for a $2 bill I had with me (actually, I had two -- that was the only money I didn't exchange at Narita).
Anyway, we got home without incident (this time!), although the train was almost rush-hour crowded on the way back from Akihabara at 11:45.
So... Tomorrow Nagano and Matsumoto.
[see photos on flickr]