Shinkansen

Verified: the Shinkansen is fast.  Got to check that off the bucket list today.  Rode the Japanese bullet train from Misawa to Tokyo.  Mostly we snacked and napped and Zoe read “Ivy and bean” on kindle.  It really didn’t feel super fast, which is nice. Not creepy; but we did a 10-11 hour drive in 2.5 hours.  YES!

Our day didnt’ start so fast.  After an amazingly good nights sleep (complete with a dream about Tom Cruise in that rock opera movie) I woke to two happy kids and a very blue Misawa sky.  We spent an hour on school lessons and then some playground time before taking  a taxi to the train station.  
Misawa is really in a very rural part of Japan.  It’ nice.  It seems liveable and slow.  The view from the train was pretty. It looks a heck of a lot like Korea, but tidy, clean, and matchy-matchy.   As in, the houses look good together.  They have a collective character, not the randomness of Korean building style.  
Tokyo was busy!  It took a bit to find the lockers at Tokyo station where I stashed my backpack.  For this trip I only have my  backpacking pack, and in it a cloth purse/bag for out and about.  So, we stashed the pack at the super-techno Japanese lockers and spent another 10 minutes trying to find the exit from Tokyo station.
From there we walked to the Imperial Palace.  It’s close…about 4 big blocks.  Enroute we stopped at an awesome water fountain park that really perked up the kids to the potential here.  They were grumpy about seeing a garden.
The east garden of the old imperial palace, though, isn’t just a little garden.  It’s a huge FREE attraction with manicured areas, forests, ponds, and the cool old palace walls.  
We started with a stop in the ‘rest room’ for ice cream to sweeten attitudes.  It worked well!  The kids had a fun time running along paths in the woods, counting the koi in the pond, and climbing a tree by the big field.  We took a nice long break in the grass for snacks and Zoe reading.  She is obsessd with Ivy and Bean.  Avi also mistakenly tossed a cheeto to a raven who creepily followed us with his buddy until I insisted the cheeto bag go in my purse. 
The walk back to Tokyo station was much more pleasant as Avi was busy taking pictures.  He loves the camera. 
The local train was surprisingly uncrowded as we made our way toward Yokota air base.  Sadly, base lodging is full as is the Toyoko inn nearby.  So I had to book off base in Tachikawa.  Its like the next suburb over.   Our hotel: the Crest Hotel is shockingly super nice and fancy. Rooms are big for Japan, as is the bed! They even gave the kids a little pack with their own washcloths, cute toothbrushes and slippers.
  Thank goodness its nice because we got lost walking between the train station and here.  My map from the website sucked and I expected a few landmarks that didnt exist.  We made the best of it by getting a great 7-11 dinner.  I had to ask for help twice, and found people quite willing and kind.  Of course, now we are here I see where I went wrong.  Oh well, the kids were excited about seeing all the neon lights and didn’t complain about the walk until just as we got to the hotel. Me?  I’m tired. 
Tomorrow we’ll have to forgo our free breakfast to depart with enough time for the walk, subway and then taxi to base.  I’m hopeful, though, that I will be blogging from Singapore tomorrow night!

Breakfast and school sans shirts

Leaving northern Japan

It’s the famous Shinkansen is very “nosey”
Japanese train station lockers!  This also helped me find our locker again later. 
Cool fountain

East imperial gardens are a hit

The old moat and wall

Avi in his tree

Following the yellow lines (for the blind) in Tokyo. 

Crest Hotel and dinner from 7-11

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