After breakfast at our hotel, I spent some time wandering around The New Otani’s Japanese garden. This carefully manicured sanctuary featured waterfalls, Shinto gates, statues, lots of Koi fish, perfect flowers, crimson bridges, and more.
After my stroll through the garden, I joined our tour group to visit the imperial palace in Tokyo. Our tour of this massive public park in Tokyo was wonderful. It seemed easy to get lost in the serenity of the large open fields, minimalist landscaping, and calm groves of trees. Set against the backdrop of the palace gardens was the skyscrapers of Tokyo, proving a contrast between the lush green with a glass and steel metropolis.
Next was a visit to the Edo Museum, which showed the history of Japan in miniatures, interactive exhibits, and fascinating artifacts behind glass.
For lunch, we headed to Ginza where we took a sushi cooking class. It wasn’t as difficult as I thought it would be, and the fresh fish, wasabi, and artfully-cooked sticky rice were easy to work with (and even easier to eat).
After the class, we strolled through Ginza for shopping. We stumbled upon a Kit-Kat “Chocolatory,” featuring Kit-Kat bars (which are much more popular in Japan than in the U.S.) in several unique flavors. We spent several dollars on chocolate and left, making our next stop at Itoya, a Japanese stationery store. There must have been thousands of pens in this store, but I chose a ¥500 calligraphy brush pen. Then our tour group got back on the bus and headed for the Marriott at Lake Yamanakako (about 1 ½ hours away).
This hotel was pretty cool. Built only about a year ago, it had modern interiors, state-of-the-art facilities, and even hot springs. It was easily one of the nicest Marriotts I have stayed in.