Today is National Foundation Day in Japan, so I didn't go into work. Apparently skipping work is the only thing that's done to celebrate the holiday. I asked people at the office if anything I should go see or do on the holiday and they were somewhat confused. This makes me appreciate the 4th of July more. Whoever came up w/ celebrating via explosives was a genius.
Anyway, since we weren't going to work, Leo and I decided to check out Ueno. Ueno is the site of Tokyo's first public park and home to the highest concentration of museums and galleries anywhere in Japan (I picked up a guidebook, so now I can sound knowledgeable).
Unlike other temples and shrines I've seen so far, this one is surrounded by a swamp.
Unfortunately, according to this sign, an average of 8 childern drown in the swamp every year.
Here's the Japanese taco-thing I purchased from a street vendor. I really have no idea how you're supposed to eat this thing. It's covered in sauce, so you can't pick it up. It's not cut up enough to easily manipulate with chopsticks and they don't provide a knife. My solution was to stab at it w/ chopsticks until manageable chunks fell off and then eat them. It was not an elegant solution. Also, the taco-thing was pretty gross. All in all, I would not recommend it.
After wandering through Ueno-Koen for a bit, we headed to the Tokyo National Musuem. We only had time to go through the Main Hall, but it was worthwhile. Historical Japanese art, scrolls, swords and crap.
After the musuem, we left the park area and wandered through the more commercial part of Ueno. Apparently, this area was once the popular spot and has more or less been replaced by Shinjuku and such. There are a bunch of little alleys filled with restaurants and shops and kinda has a farmer's market type feel to it. For some reason, I'm really drawn to places with signs in otherwise unappealing alleys. It's like I'm convinced that all the best places have to be hidden in seedy locations.
Overall, I liked Ueno better than the other districts I've been to. There were plenty of restarants and things, without nearly as much crowd. It also doesn't feel catered to tourists and lacks the guys who harass you and try to direct you to strip clubs.
Best of all:
Meat Dish & Beer. It's going to be tough to top this as my favorite restaurant in Tokyo.