I took the Cummings on a tour around the west area of Tokyo on Monday. Dave called on Sunday and was able to reserve two rooms for us at the New Sanno Hotel. This would enable us to spend the entire day exploring and not having to take the train all the way home.
The first stop on our scavenger hunt was at The International House of Japan. Or as we quickly named it “The International House of Ja-pancake.”
Here, Sara was able to deliver a book her father published of his notes and recordings from a conference he attended during the 1960s. Fortunately, one of the receptionist spoke very good English. Sara left the book with the receptionist and she in return gave Sara an email for her father to use to contact the library. Mission complete.
Our next order of business was to drop off our bags at the hotel. As we walked through Roppongi, we could see Tokyo Tower.
At the hotel, we registered for our rooms and left our bags with the bellhop. Back to the train station we went! This time our destination was lunch! The Vernal Equinox is a holiday in Japan making it difficult to find a place not too crowded at lunch. Outside of Shinjuku station, we found a cute little back alley filled with different ramen shops.
It was the perfect spot to fuel our Seven Lucky Gods pilgrimage. Lucky us, there were five seats available!
With our lunch mission complete, we set out on the Shinjuku Seven Lucky Gods pilgrimage. Seven temples to find!
At our first temple, Taiso-ji, we collected Hotei and purchased the boat the Gods would rest upon. Hotei: God of happiness, family, peace and protection from illness and disaster.
The second stop was at the Hozen-ji Temple. Here we collected Jurojin. Jurojin: God of long life and protection from illness.
I knew our next stop was a tricky one to find and I took us down a couple dead end streets before finding the path to the temple. Without too much delay, we arrived at the Itsukushima Temple. Here we collected Benzai-ten. Benzai-ten: Goddess of music, arts, and speech.
Our fourth stop was around the corner. We walked over to the Eifuku-ji Temple. The Eifuku-ji Temple is dedicated to Fukurokuju. Fukurokuji: God of health, happiness, and long life.
The fifth temple was a bit of a walk and required a little refueling. A short stop at the Family Mart for ice cream and we were on our way! About 15 minutes later we arrived at the Kyo-o-ji Temple. Here we collected Daikoku-ten. Daikoku-ten: God of grain harvest and wealth. Everyone also had a chance to shake the lucky mallet for wealth!
To reach the sixth temple we took a quick train ride to the Zentoku-ji Temple. This temple is dedicated to Bishamon-ten. Bisamon-ten: God of protection from disaster and evil.
As we were leaving the temple, we realized we needed to pick up the pace in order to ensure we made it to the last temple on time. Everyone stepped it out! I was so proud of everyone! We made it to Ushi Kitano a Shinto Shrine.
But, guess what – it was the wrong one! Yep, I messed that one up! Gah! It was 1600. Hopefully, the temple we wanted to visit stayed open until 1700. Back to the train we went!! Our final God awaited at the Inari Kio-jinja Shrine. Here we collected Ebisu-jin. Ebisu-jin: God of prosperous business.
I consider us extra lucky after this pilgrimage- we found all seven plus one additional temple!!
After completing our pilgrimage, we went to Harajuku for the reward I promised – cotton candy. And not just any cotton candy… a mountain of cotton candy! But first, we needed a family picture at Takeshita Dori!
This part of the scavenger hunt was pretty easy. The cotton candy was everywhere!
We enjoyed walking around Harajuku and seeing so much “kawaii!” Next up- finding Shibuya Crossing and a snapping a picture with Hachiko statue.
Done and done! Time to eat dinner. Oh, boy… always a bit of a scavenger hunt and with two kids it can be tricky. If James had his pick, we would eat ramen again. While walking around Shibuya we turned the corner and saw Outback Steakhouse. Seriously. Our search was over. The American mothership called us home.
We all agreed, this was much better than the sea urchin pretzels Delaney picked up earlier in the day!
This massive burger with blooming onions on top made my scavenger hunt complete.
The day was quite an adventure. I lost track of how many trains we rode. Apple steps told me we walked over 10 miles. Even after a full day of walking and occasional wrong turns, I’m the lucky one. I was able to spend the day with friends doing what I love – exploring!
PS. Sara snapped this picture in one of the many train stations. Me, wiping my ever runny nose. Yep, that’s about my normal look! Haha