With limited sleep as a result of our body clocks attempting the adjustment from California to Japan, we started the day by checking out of Hotel MyStays Ueno Iriyacguchi, Tokyo. We headed for the Tokyo Station to pick up our Japan Rail (JR) passes, which as tourists allows us to travel at greatly reduced rates. Arriving before the JR office was due to open at 9 am we strolled around the station on a mission to locate breakfast. We discovered a lovely bakery (Andersen Bakery), which had an incredible array of delicious treats . . . . and really good coffee. A young boy (perhaps 5 or 6 years of age) engaged Dennis in conversation. He was dining with his mother, and was very excited to test out his English skills. He was a delightful young man, with exceptional manners, and was extremely excited to talk to someone that lived near Disneyland! When his mother decided it was time to leave, he gave Dennis a great smile, shook his hand, and said, "It was a pleasure to meet you." Wow, very impressive.
It was now time to board the Shinkansen "bullet train." Dennis found and downloaded an app to his iPhone that displayed actual mph, and we were thrilled to see just how fast we were charging northbound to Sendai . . . one instance recorded a speed of 198 mph!
Upon arrival at Sendai Station, Steve welcomed us to Japan, and gave each of us a Zunda Shake, a local specialty made with soy beans and vanilla. It was delicious! We proceeded to place several pieces of luggage in lockers at the train station so that we would not be encumbered on our way to Matsushima Bay. Matsushima is a group of islands in Miyagi Prefecture consisting of 260 tiny islands formed of volcanic rock shaped over time by waves and earthquakes. The islands are covered in pines and has been ranked as one of the Three Views of Japan. Once there we walked around a bit before boarding a pleasure boat for a breathtaking sightseeing experience. In particular, Kanejima Island was spectacular.
At the conclusion of the tour we once again boarded a train back to Sendai to retrieve our luggage, and check into our next hotel (Sendai Washington Hotel). Once settled Steve directed us to one of his favorite casual restaurants (Wara Wara) for dinner. After dinner we headed back to the hotel so that Barbara and Kathy W. could settle in for the night. Dennis and Kathy C. decided to go with Steve to a favorite pub spot before they too turned in, Steve then taking the subway back to his home. (Perhaps Dennis or Kathy can elaborate on this adventure!)
It was a full day, and absolutely wonderful having Steve as our official tour guide. We look forward to spending more time with him tomorrow! KW