Our first few days in Tokyo!

Our neighbor Dave drove us to the airportOur AirBnB house, with the red sign

These drink vending machines were EVERYWHERE!The fire station

Our first meal out - go McDonalds! The milk tasted different (but you actually got regular milk, instead of skim or chocolate). And the butter for the pancakes looked like sour cream, but tasted like butter. But otherwise very similar. The chairs were VERY close together, though - I'm sitting just a few inches away from another customer.A neat slide, with rolling pins to slide down

In a grocery store -these funny pyramid shaped contains were like a can substitute.

Strawberry and cream sandwich, right next to the ham and cheese!Coke Plus - this Japan-only product has something that's supposed to prevent the absorbtion of fat.

The place we stayed was RIGHT next to the train tracks.The nearby junior high school had unicycles for kids to use.

Interesting buildingAt the Daiso (100 yen store, like a dollar store) - rubber booties, for when you're cleaning the bathtub

The rice here is priced very high, a protectionist scheme to benefit Japanese farmers. One of the large bags (5 kilos or 11 pounds) is about 25 dollars.Love the models of the food at restaurants!

This utility pole looked pretty erie...I assume it was just spikes to scare off birds.Very serene neighborhood nearby, called Mejiro Woods

Even the smallest little strip of property is often very nicely cared for.Saw a lot of these flexible gates

A beautiful gateI'm assuming the blue mesh was there to prevent birds from getting at the garbage

A view from the Tokyo Metropolitan Government BuildingThe walkway under the Shinjuku area. An amazing number of people are wearing black suits. A big shock, coming from Seattle, where nobody wears a suit.

Saw lots of these battery assist bikes with a front and back child seatAt the food court in the Isetan department store. It was truly an exceptional experience, with an amazing array of beautifully prepared foods.

Some (beautiful) tomatoes for about $32

The fruits were displayed like jewels

Kids playing baseball, by themselves, no coaches, no uniforms. I haven't seen this in the US in decades.The playground at Nishi-Ikebukuro Park. We went back so Peter could enjoy the slide. A group of kids from a daycare were there as well.

At a restaurant, the kid's milk had ice in it.I like this napkin holder. Very compact

A view of the subway

We did the tour at the Ikebukuro Life Safety Learning Center. First, fire extinguisher usage

Also an earthquake simulation

Peter's earthquake simulation was for kids only, and much gentler. The adult version was rough! I felt "shaken up" for quite a while afterwards.

Love these micovans

Artfully set up little side yardNice border made of bamboo, at a temple

The temple also had a batch of polliwogs in a bowl.Lots of signs right on the pavement. Here's a no-smoking sign.

Finally bought a drink from one of the many vending machines. I was surprised - it was hot! Next time I know that if the price is in red, it's not. Blue is cold.Another beautifully kept space

Going over a train trackA lame small playground, but this little egg was cool

Wow -this is actually a little micro multi-level parking spot! There's another level (or maybe more?) for cards to park.At the Zoshigaya Kishimojindo Temple - the sign says "No Pokemon Go!

Ringing the bell

A monster Ginko tree

This area was to get water and brushes for cleaning the tombstones

Beautiful workmanship of a temple bench. The woodworking in Japan was amazingly well done.

Another cemetary

Neat water fountain, that sprays straight up!A natural stone tombstone

At Minami-Ikebukuro Park. It was a beautiful open space in the middle of the city, obviously very popular.

Oddly shaped ping pong tablesThese ladies set up a very fanciful scene, involving stuffed animals, little trays of what looked like fake food, etc, and then took pictures of it. I have no idea why.

This guard kept an eye on things.Interesting building

And anotherBeautifully tended micro parking spot

Our place, from the train track side

Checking out the selection at a restaurant, via their models of foodThis was a place where you paid for the food with this automated teller. It was tricky to use, and only partially translated into English. We needed help.

Ueno Park was a big cherry blossum viewing area. There were large blue plastic sheets set up for people to set up picnics on, along with signs telling them to stay only one hourGarbage disposal area, with very detailed instructions on how to separate the garbage

The shops in front of the Shinobazunoike Bentendo temple, right next ot Ueno Park.Octopus on a stick

Some cherry trees, still in bloomCones to guide the lines for the zoo. I believe this line is only if you want to see the pandas. I wouldn't want to be waiting here if the line were this long!

Shops close to the Senso-ji temple complex, selling things that look like shrinesView of the Senso-ji temple area

Peter, with the Skytree growing out of his headSmokers cluster in these special areas to enjoy their cigarettes

The symbol for Buddhist temples looks like a swastica, except not on an angle, and turned the other directionMany shops on the way to the temple, selling souveneirs and snacks

I asked this lovely lady in a kimono to pose with PeterA little machine to make the filled cookies

At the templePaying 100 yen to get a paper fortune

This was a very popular spot for photos. The ladies liked to havve photos taken of themselves, in kimonos, holding a branch of cherry blossums.Headed back home on the subway, unusually empty. The subways are spectacularly clean and comfortable.

A newspaper office very close to our houseI finally noticed that there's a little shrine, just next to our house

The house 2 doors down from ours was being torn down while we were there. Things progressed very quickly. Every day, they swept and washed the street down.The Akihabara neighborhood, previously famous for electronics, and there's still a few stalls left. It's mostly all about anime now, though.

Old radios

Super expensive Japanese children's backpacks. The most expensive one here is about 538 USD. We later saw ones that were even more expensive.Some very brightly colored buildings in Akihabara

Many places had whole walls of vending machines, selling various collectiblesAt Mister Donut

Builders started work on the lot diagonally across from us while we were there

At the playground very close to our houseSome of the many interesting buildings in our neighborhood. This one was very narrow

A mini townhouse complexThis Frank Lloyd Wright designed building was a few minutes walk away from our house.

The traditional fence building style is to tie bamboo together with black cordAt the Mejiro Teien temple/garden, very close to our house

A very beautiful looking drivewayThe Nippon Foundation held a show to promote Adoption Day in Japan.

At a "love hotel"We stumbled upon "Outdoor Day" at Yoyogi Park. Peter and Eric in a tent sauna. It was hot in there!

A s'more station for kids

Fully disposable bbq setJapan style RV

The largest ballon sculpture I've ever seenA Subaru made front-wheel drive bike

This guys had FIVE poodlesA folding cooler. The Japanese have all kinds of cool ideas for folding and collapsible items.

Another cherry blossum viewing areaA folding picnic table

At the Meiji Jingu Shinto shrine

We happened to come across a very formal Shinto wedding ceremony

The bride and groom, and attendants

A beautiful avenue

It's more interesting to walk down the street in Japan because things actually happen and are visible on the street. This man has a street-side shoe polishing stand.

The grocery store about a 2 minute walk away, we bought all our food there. Nothing was in English, and there were no American brands, so it was pretty difficult to figure things out.Based on what Google maps shows, this was a foundation.

Interesting narrow bulidingAnother interesting narrow building

This is the only place I saw bike sharing facilitiesMore interesting buildings

Pristine and very nice looking gates were everywhere

At our house. The Christmas decor was a little out of date. There were only Japanese programs on TV, no subtitles or dubbing. It was kind of relaxing to watch.

Progress on the building diagonally across from us, on the other side of the train tracksOur steps. The house was three stories, and the stairs were narrower than what we're used to, and also the railing was lower.

A parking garage close byClimbing wall at a school nearby

Very narrow builidingHomeless man at a nearby park. Overall, there were very few visible homeless, though - maybe about 1/1000th of the what Seattle has.

At the shopping complex in Ikebukuro. The bottom floor of department stores seem to always have these amazing dessert areas. They're decorated like jewels.

At a local department store - this was a whole new category of furniture for me. It's like an armchair, but on the floor. I guess for the low tables?

Visiting with our friend from Geneva, Alison, and her two boys. It was really great to sege them again.Little dogs wearing dresses. They were everywhere!

Basketball at the park with Alison's boysI finally figured out that all the bumpy yellow lines were for blind people. There were any more visible blind people walking around Japan than in the US (where you basically never see blind people).f

At a parking gargae/carouselThe house 2 houses down from ours, now being completely demolished

In the line to ride the Shinkansen (bullet train) into KyotoThese ladies in pink clean the train and turn it around in about 8 minutes

On the train!