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Here's a story I wrote for the Honolulu Adveriser. I also took the pictures.
  Tokyo's entertainment scene is a family affair - The Honolulu Advertise... of 73/11/07 10:30 PM Harajuku Station in Tokyohelps connect Japanthrough a train systemthat's quick and fun toride.Photos by Peter Erikson ãThe Honolulu AdvertiserShinobazu no Ike is arenowned pond at UenoZoo filled with lotusblossoms and migratorybirds perched on stumps.Swaying weeping willowsline the pond. CUSTOMER SERVICE : Subscribe now   |   How to advertise |   Contact us Hawai'i's Newspaper Online Sunday, March 11, 2007 76°F Mostly Cloudy HIGH:   81°FLOW:   73°F Detailed forecast>> Search Honolulu Advertiser:   All   All   Go   ISLAND LIFE AboutMen/WomenTaste/RecipesFaith calendarTravelComicsTube NotesTGIF calendarE-Postcards ARCHIVE Today's headlinesBack issues FEATURED NEWS Nation/World newsMovie showtimesSpecial projectsObituariesWeatherBeach conditionsColumnistsPhoto galleriesVideoBlogs   CUSTOMER SERVICE Help pageContact usSubscriber servicesReader servicesAdvertising servicesAbout usSite mapCorrectionsToday's front page RESOURCES Discussion boardTraffic hotspotsHTYellowpages.comHawaiianPrintableversion E-mailthisstoryPosted on: Sunday, August 3, 2003 Tokyo's entertainment scene is afamily affair ã Look at bentos for cheap eats ã Get good deals on diapers, formula By Peter EriksonAdvertiser Staff Writer TOKYO, Japan — Including thegiant crows that dive-bomb pedestrians, I've got a specialaffinity for all things Japanese. It'sthe birthplace of my wife, dualhomeland for my two childrenand a place where bentos beat burgers.We visited Tokyo and its environsfor 2 1/2 weeks in May. My wife'sfather got to meet his grandson,and I returned to the country Ilived and worked in for almostfour years. Not much has changed. Tokyoremains an easy place to getaround, even if you've got smallchildren. Buses, trains andsubways run on time, and peopleare quick to help you find your station or point you in the right Watch for TopJobs coming tothis space soon.  Tokyo's entertainment scene is a family affair - The Honolulu Advertise... of 73/11/07 10:30 PM The elevated YebisuSkywalk connects EbisuStation to Yebisu GardenPlace, which is the formerhome of Yebisu Brewery. On the Web :For details, visit the JapanNational TouristOrganization Web Also of interest, the Englishlanguage site of the JapanTravel Bureau, thecountry's largest dictionaryE-mail news alertsRSS news feedsWireless newsNewspaper inEducationBlood Bank of Hawaii   direction.Here are a few ideas for familieson where to stay, what to do,which eateries to patronize andhow to get around.And it doesn't have to beexpensive, if you follow a fewrules:Don't rent a car unless you'resharing the cost — there areno freeways, only toll roads,and the fees are steep.Don't shop in international grocery stores, whose jet-setclienteles can afford to pay$10 for a can of tuna.Eat like the natives — ignoreAmerican joints such as AnnaMiller's, where a pie costs asmuch as Russian caviar, andtry, say, a kaitenzushi(revolving sushi) restaurant,which serve plates of the bestraw fish you've ever tastedfor a fraction of what you pay here. You can also bark an order to one of the chefs: Maguro o kudasai! ( Tuna, please! ). The wonders of Ueno A decaying city of grimy buildings surrounds some of Japan's finest cultural treasures in the historic railwayhub of Ueno on the northern edge of Tokyo.But the contrast between blight and divine sight is less jarring when you see the country's premier zoo,world-class museums and a park where cherry blossoms bloom in spring and magicians entertaincrowds.Ueno Zoological Gardens is a five-minute walk fromthe train station, making it easy to lug along children — even if one is in a clunky stroller and the other isharnessed to your chest in a Baby Bjorn, as was thecase with us.The big draw is one aging superstar: Ling Ling, agiant, rare panda born at Beijing Zoo and given to  Tokyo's entertainment scene is a family affair - The Honolulu Advertise... of 73/11/07 10:30 PM Ueno in 1992. Pygmy hippopotamuses, giant anteaters,gorillas, polar bears and thousands of other animals arealso featured.This might sound rather ordinary — but how manyzoos have a shrine and other centuries-old landmarks?Toshogu Shrine, built about 1650, is dedicated toshogun Tokugawa Ieyasu, who in 1603 established theTokugawa, or Edo, period, a military dictatorship thatlasted until 1867. Nearby is a five-story pagoda andmilitary commander Todo Takatora's Tea CeremonyHouse, used for the reception of visiting shoguns.Takatora, who served under Tokugawa, helped invadeKorea and was considered one of the finest castlearchitects of his time.The zoo is also known for Shinobazu no Ike (Pond),filled with lotus flowers and islands where migratory birds perch on tree stumps. Swaying weeping willowsline the pond, and Aleutian Canada geese andred-crowned cranes rest in mini sanctuaries protected by bamboo fences that look like works of art.Elsewhere, you can take a ride in a cart pulled by allama; you'll receive a colorful, laminated certificate asa souvenir.A Disneyland-like monorail takes visitors from the eastside of the zoo to the west for a small fee.How to get there: Take the Yamanote Line fromShibuya, Shinjuku, Tokyo or Shinagawa; you'll payless than $2 each way, per person. The zoo is openTuesday through Sunday from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thecost is 600 yen (about $5) for those ages 15 to 64, 300yen ($2.50) for seniors and 200 yen ($1.67) for youths 12-14. Keep an eye on your children — hundreds get lost at the zoo each year. A place to play If you have small kids, a visit to Tokyo-To JidoKaikan (Tokyo Metropolitan Children's Hall) is a must.This multistory wonderland was established under theChild Welfare Act of 1964 in a city where the playenvironment for children worsens each year, according to the city.The facility hugs the choked streets of Shibuya but provides plenty of space to stimulate children. You canvisit the scientific craft corner or the Human BodyMaze playground, work on computers, check out  Tokyo's entertainment scene is a family affair - The Honolulu Advertise... of 73/11/07 10:30 PM library books or create art in Origami Land. For teensthere's a wireless-communications room and soundstudio.How to get there: Take the Yamanote, Saikyo,Inokashira, Toyoko or Denen Toshi train lines, or theGinza or Hanzoumon subway lines, to Shibuya Station,seven minutes from the Children's Hall. The facility isopen 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day except holidays anduntil 6 p.m. in June and July. Write to TokyoMetropolitan Children's Hall, 1-18-24 Shibuya-ku,Tokyo 150-0002. Or call (03) 3409-6361 or (03)3407-8364 (fax). A day with the emperors Another great place to bring the family is Meiji JinguShrine, where visitors walk lush grounds and learnabout Japan's emperors. Take either the JR YamanoteLine to Harajuku Station, or the subway's ChiyodaLine to Meijijingumae Station.Meiji Jingu, which holds the deified spirits of Emperor Meiji and his consort, Empress Shoken, was completedin 1920 and rebuilt after being destroyed in World War II. Nearby is Harajuku and sprawling Yoyogi Koen(Park); Tsukiji market, an enormous barn-like structurewhere merchants hold morning fish auctions and slicegiant sea creatures into sashimi; and Yebisu GardenPlace, former home of Yebisu Brewery, connected byan elevated, moving Skywalk to Ebisu Station. Where to stay An excellent choice is Kodomo no Shiro (NationalChildren's Castle) in Aoyama, which combines a hotelwith whole floors of play areas. There's no fee to usethe facilities if you stay at the Tokyo hotel; otherwiseit's 500 yen ($2.50) for adults and 400 yen ($3.35) for kids. Our room price, including tax and fees, was $123 per night, a bargain in any big city.Our daughter loved the roof-garden play areas,fine-arts studio and a wooden jungle gym that took uphalf of one floor. There's also a well-child clinic, musiclobby, childcare area, restaurants, a pool and a gym.The down side: Hallways smell of cigarette smoke, andthe nearest laundry is a half-mile away.How to get to there: National Children's Castle is about
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