Part 2: Two weeks in Tokyo with Dad

Last month, my 77-year-old father from Ohio came to visit for two weeks. As I wrote in my last post, we had a great time exploring Tokyo together, visiting spots in Kichijoji, Asakusa, Takao, Chiyoda, Sumida City and central Tokyo. It wasn’t easy narrowing down our destinations to a reasonable itinerary. In addition to touristy spots, we also made time for a few holiday-related ventures. Dad attended a base holiday parade and tree lighting with us, we stuffed ourselves silly at a Thanksgiving Day buffet and we decorated my little house for Christmas.

In today’s post, I share a few more highlights from his visit.

Roppongi, Tokyo: We dined at a German restaurant and perused a few shops before enjoying the main attraction: the winter illuminations at the base of Mori Tower and along Keyakizaka Street. The light shows here in Japan this time of year are amazing and I’m so glad my dad was able to see one of the city center ones. (The Roppongi Hills show continues until Dec. 25.)

Odaiba, Tokyo Bay: Dad loves cars, so I knew a visit to Tokyo MegaWeb for the giant Toyota car showroom and the VenusFort mall, with its museum of vintage cars, would be in order. Lucky for us, we stumbled onto a small festival taking place at Toyota, so we were treated to a stage show with traditional dancers as well as a bevy of dancing mascots. (Just another day in Japan, Dad!) We gaped at the giant Gundam robot — Thank goodness, he doesn’t move — and at Asimo the robot — who not only moves, but dances and recites poetry. The latter performed for us at the National Museum for Emerging Science and Technology. (For more details on Odaiba, see my post from last May.)

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Ueno Park, central Tokyo: On Thanksgiving day, Dad, Liam and I immersed ourselves for a few hours in ancient Chinese history. We went to the Tokyo National Museum at Ueno Park to see the “Great Terracotta Army of China’s First Emperor” exhibit. It’s a rare treat to get to see these 2,000-year-old statues (The exhibit is on view through Feb. 21.) The highlight is the final gallery where you can walk up to and around nearly a dozen of the nearly life-size statues themselves. Photographs are allowed only of replicas, near the exhibit exit. (Note to self: Need to get Dad to send me his pictures of us posing with the soldiers!)

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Mt. Fuji: I’m cheating here. We didn’t go to Mt. Fuji. But…we did take pictures of it from base. One crisp morning, the clouds parted to reveal Fuji himself against a clean, blue backdrop. I spy him on clear days fairly regularly — one of the aspects of my life here that still gives me a thrill — but we’d been waiting for a day for my father to get a good view. We played paparazzi from the rooftop garage of the base community center.

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Showa Kinen Park, Tachikawa, Tokyo: Showa is my favorite Tokyo park. (I’ve previously blogged about its many wonders.) I’m so glad I was able to take my father there for a visit. It’s a huge park, so we limited ourselves to the Japanese Garden, the children’s forest with its dragon playground and massive ‘marshmallow’ jumping fields, and to the farm village. The trees were not as spectacular as I’d hoped but we still spied a few vivid, fall colors. (Those dragons can be fierce. I’m running away from one below.)


Yomiuriland, Inagi-shi: On Dad’s last Saturday, we boarded an afternoon tour bus here on base for the easy trip to Yomiuriland, a small amusement park, for another spectacular light display. Once the sun set, the entire park dazzled with lights. All the rides were surrounded by bulbs and entire sections of the park were set aside for extra displays that shimmered in time to music. One of the shows flashed over a large pool. (The illuminations continue through Feb. 14.) To be honest, it was almost surreal at times. Liam was ecstatic to ride his first (little) roller coaster and even those of us still only young at heart had a blast.

I don’t anticipate posting again before Christmas so may I wish all of you, my lovely readers, a very special holiday. And for those of you who may be celebrating this year while far from loved ones, I hope you and yours find lots of happiness and joy during this season, despite the distances that may separate you.

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