Tokyo 2014 – DAY 06, Goodbye For Now Japan!

  • By Sara

Boohoo, I can’t believe we’re on our last day in Tokyo right now. Time seemed to have just flown by within this week and before you know it, it’s time to head back to Singapore, reality. Read about Day 5 here if you haven’t.

Sigh.

But before reality, here’s what we (or rather I) did on the last day!

As with the whole complication of flying there, I flew back alone (in the evening) as well with hub’s flight back to Singapore being later that day at 11pm or so. Which meant after seeing me off to the airport train, he would have the rest of the day to himself which he spent meeting up the friend that couldn’t make it to dinner with us last night.

So anyway, Day 6…

We spent a little while in the morning sorting and packing everything before getting ready to head out.

The nearest place we could spend some time at and grab lunch would be Shibuya so we took the hotel shuttle there and roamed for a little in the few hours that we had.

After a short walk, we spotted a huge Donki (Don Quijote) and totally got suckered into it, in good time too since it was the last leg of our trip, a perfect time to stock up on some snacks!

I doubt I would need to explain much since Donki has a bit of a reputation of its own but it is a duty free shop (you can claim tax if you spend over 10,000 YEN) whereby you can find anything from food to costumes to cosmetics to appliances. It’s mad and we spent such a good amount of time in there.

There truly was loads to see and I was tempted to play around with the ‘tester’ curling irons and give my flat hair some curls but decided against it.

After all we were a little pressed for time, and hungry!

We ventured the streets and went into a restaurant that seemed quite promising yesterday except that it was full.

It has a nice cozy and dim setting, very classy except for the fact that you could smoke in here.

We realized that a lot of these restaurants (especially those that sell liquor and bank on the night chill-out business) allows smoking within the restaurant. It’s probably culture over there but we felt a little bummed about it because I personally can’t stand the smell of smoke. I have smoker friends and all, don’t get me wrong but I truly do not like the scent of cigarette smoke. Ack.

I had a chicken karaage set (my fav, fried chicken) and the chicken was nicely fried – moist and juicy inside without being too oily or hard and crispy on the outside.

Hubs had a mix of chicken karaage and pork stir-fried with ginger I believe.

After lunch we walked about a little more, bidding Shibuya goodbye before taking a slow stroll back to the hotel so that I can pick my luggage up.

Check out that giant Lululun cushion / display thing. It’s so cute!

We picked up some drinks from Donki to have on the stroll and this Cafe Latte I got was so so good! I felt a little sad that I only discovered this just as I was leaving.

Aesop is so commonly seen and found over in Tokyo.

Goodbye my beautiful Tokyo~ The weather was so wonderful the whole 6 days we were there and we are so grateful for that. The week before our visit it was raining non-stop and a friend who was there complained that it was so wet, icky and cold the whole time so we really were counting our lucky stars that there was no drop of rain the whole time we were there.

Phew!

Hubs helped me drag my luggage all the back from to Shibuya, from the hotel and we had the drink of his pick on the way.

It’s supposedly mocha but all I tasted was really rich chocolate, eeps not my kinda drink.

On the way to Shibuya we saw some procession taking place. We had no idea what it could be and I don’t want to raise any unnecessary remarks and speculations so… yeah we just snapped some pics and were on our way.

After bidding Hubs goodbye upon buying my N’EX train ticket (which omgosh, the queue for it was horrible and the people are so incredibly slowwwww), I made my way to the platform and waited for the train.

Luckily I had time to give the train ticket a good look and located the Cabin I was suppose to be in as well as the seat number and whatnot.

Wouldn’t want to be in someone elses’s seat or have any confusion of that sort!

The journey to Narita airport was smooth and the train was fairly efficient, reaching just a little (about 5-8 mins) in excess of the estimated time but ah well, I guess delays do happen even in a city where trains are meant to be on the dot about time.

It was a bit of a rush for me, the whole getting to the airport, checking in and making sure I get myself on the plane so I didn’t get to roam in the duty free section which was just as well. No temptations!

In no time, I was on the plane catching The Hobbit (Part 2) and home-bound on JAL.

p.s. the Dinner served was actually quite yummy but I didn’t manage to snap that – too hungry!

 


 

This wraps up the Tokyo trip and while we had an enjoyable time in Tokyo, Hubs and I both agreed that if we were to ever go back to Japan we would be more keen to explore the outskirts as opposed to venturing the city area once more.

Thanks for reading this very long travelogue and feel free to pose any questions should you have any! 🙂

Tokyo 2014 – DAY 05

  • By Sara

Wow, I can’t believe this is the second last day of Tokyo already! If you haven’t read Day 04, you can here!

By Day 5 hubs and I were positively tired out from the early wakings and whatnot but we still soldiered on. After all there was so much to see and experience in Tokyo!

But first, breakfast.

We waited a little to take the hotel shuttle to Shibuya (because we are tired of walking all the way there) so… in the meanwhile, we surf!

It was another day of long train rides as we journeyed aaaaaall the way from Shibuya to Asakusa.

Tired faces…

We were greeted with odd acrobatic stunts the minute we exited the station, talk about attention grabbing! Apparently these people are trying to tout for their tri-shaw services.

Pity a part of the Asakusa Temple (Sensoji Shrine) was under construction, obstructing this shot.

The grounds of the Sensoji Shrine were crowded, cramped with tourists and very commercialized. I found it a little difficult to truly enjoy the place because half the time you were being shoved or in someone’s shot or amongst rowdy tourists.

In all, it was quite a departure from the serenity at Meiji Shrine, though I guess it was to be expected given that Sensoji is a buddhist Temple and probably appeals to a larger crowd and following.

There were a lot of Thai and China nationals visiting while we were there.

Though the beauty of the structure cannot be denied.

Apparently there is a ritual of fanning incense smoke onto yourself before stepping into the temple. Probably very much like blessing yourself with the smoke.

Because the main walkway of the Temple was too cramped and congested, we ventured off to the sides where there were some sakura trees in bloom.

We did a quick dive into the Main Hall, snapped some pics and promptly left the crowd.

After a little touristy sight-seeing at Sensoji Shrine, we headed off towards Akihabara because it was on the way. Truthfully we didn’t feel like there was a lot for us to see at Akihabara since most of hub’s interest is found at Nakano Broadway too but we thought to drop by either ways, since we are here.

Akihabara, as expected, is loud and bright and cheery. Anime music is blaring at every street with giant and colorful billboards, digital flashing screens and such.

I believe we went at a fairly early time hence there weren’t many people on the streets and we didn’t get to see any cosplays in action, not that I would know if there are cosplayers otherwise during the day.

There were a few ‘maids’ all dressed up along the streets handing out flyers but nothing really out of the world, I feel.

Oh, look, AKB48 Cafe on the 8th Floor! Though it was closed at the time we were there.

Frankly there wasn’t a lot to see but even then Hubs did have an agenda in mind, to visit the Mandarake building in Akihabara. And so, we did.

After this we dropped by Animate, which wasn’t a lot for us to see either since it is largely manga-based and hubs is more of a toy collector than comic person so with that, this rounds up our short trip to Akihabara.

At least we went!

With that, we were on a schedule to dash to Tsukiji before 2pm so off we went!

A few of our pals recommended this particular sushi place in Tsukiji, a block away from the market, so we were on a mission to hunt that place down.

Thank goodness for Google Maps (and wifi).

Tucked away in a quiet corner and alley was Katsura, probably the best sushi we’ve had the whole trip!

Katsura Sushi
2 Chome-15-4 Tsukiji Chūō-ku, Tōkyō-to Japan

Their menu is in Japanese only so perhaps there are more options to it but all you really have to know is the first two numbers – the 1 person set (950 YEN) or the 1.5 person set (1,050 YEN).

The 1 person set comes with 9 pieces of sushi and a maki roll (6 mini pieces) while the 1.5 person comes with 2 extra pieces of sushi.

Given how 1,050 YEN is still considerably cheap (13SGD), Hubs and I ordered a 1.5 person set each.

The set comes with tea (everywhere in Japan comes with tea / water) and miso soup which is refillable. Their miso soup isn’t fantastic but it is a decent broth.

The highlight of Katsura is the fresh, succulent and amazingly delicious sushi. The fish they use is freshly purchased from Tsukiji market every day and what they sell is a fraction of the price what you would when you frequent the sushi chains right outside Tsukiji market.

I also like that the chef makes the sushi for you, right infront of you. The service was impeccable (they refill our miso bowls even before we are done) and the whole experience was awesome for just 13SGD a person.

Each time I pop a sushi into my mouth it felt like heaven. Everything was so yummy and fresh that hubs (who is a little reserved about anything that isn’t salmon) was singing praises about the other fishes.

The ika (squid) was particularly good and shockingly enough, perhaps my favorite of the batch. I don’t usually like ika anywhere else but the one here was so sweet, crunchy and juicy all at the same time. Delectable!

The maki roll to end it off, cleansing your palate.

Hubs was so impressed that he contemplated ordering one more set for himself but I held him back incase we wanted to try anything else at the market.

Though on hindsight, we should have just ordered one more set…

After our very fulfilling lunch, we decided to head over to the market just to have a look. We weren’t too keen on the whole hype of visiting the market (hence our late visiting time) but since we are here might as well give it all a look.

There was a lot of fresh produce for sale, along with dried goods and whatnot. Though frankly speaking, I think a lot of it isn’t actually very cheap. It felt like a lot of these items were already marked up because of the tourist influx so while I was tempted to get a box of Ika or Uni, I decided against it.

They have some freshly oysters here too but I disliked the fact that they had already shucked everything and left the oyster open as such (with toothpicks poked in too, gosh.

Overall as nice as Tsukiji is or was I felt like a large part of it bowed to commercialism and tourists hence it has lost a lot of its authentic flavor along the way. It’s quite a pity given something so old and traditional but oh well, such is life.

After having had our fill of Tsukiji, we decided to wander back to the Harajuku area again. It feels like we are constantly in this area but trust me, this area is huge and each time we are here we only uncover a small bit of it.

When in Harajuku, have crepe!

This time I picked a flavor and ended up strawberry cheesecake (with ice cream)! So sweet and yummy!

We ventured over to the Omotesando area again and this time around Hubs finally got to visit Secret Base.

After this was more strolling, shopping and such around the Omotesando area.

You see that little box Hubs is holding? Yes, well, someone has got a new pair of kicks.

Since it was almost dinner time and the shoes that Hubs was wearing was giving him some pain we decided to slowly make our way back to the hotel so we can unpack, settle down, get refreshed and head out again for dinner.

But not before dropping by Lowrys Farm for a bit…

Back in the hotel I decided to don my beanie (wanted to wear that out earlier but forgot) because the nights can get quite chilly.

I swapped out my boots too from the ankle ones to my knee-high doc marts, for better ‘wind protection’, yanno?

Hubs swapped out to his new pair of Nikes too.

Went by a skate shop near our hotel that we have never noticed before. Apparently the shops opposite our hotel are quite hipster and we’ve never noticed that because typically when we are heading back it’s the dead of the night and they are all closed.

Another shot of Shibuya Crossing, a panoramic one this time!

We wanted to meet some friends for dinner but they couldn’t make it in the end so we decided to roam about and spend some time hunting down some gifts and such.

Though before we did that we popped by Uniqlo to pick up some basics because they are a tad bit cheaper in Tokyo and I have been eyeing some of their tanks for awhile.

Somehow we ended up at Tokyu Hands again and I realized that they carry Manic Panic Hairdye here!

I spotted a shelf of Lululun masks as well!

I’ve heard a lot about these masks from some beauty blogs and how these masks work great to deliver hydration and refresh the skin, along with how elusive these are given that they are only available within Japan as of now (I think?).

Though unfortunately the one mask that I wanted to pick up (the pink one) was completely sold out here! Grr!

We spent a good few hours over at Tokyu Hands, picking up some random hauls, souvenirs and whatnot. By the time we decided to head for dinner it was about 9pm or so.

We roamed the streets a little and I had a craving for having Yakitori though unfortunately we had no such luck because it was a Friday night and with Japanese culture, that meant that restaurants are usually filled because everyone would be having drinks and Yakitori with pals so unless we wanted to wait for 2-3 hours or so… it meant we had to keep looking.

I did some googling and learnt that there were some nice Yakitori stores over at Drunken Alley so we decided to head over there and try our luck.

Drunken Alley was very interesting…

It was a small and dim street filled with tiny little shops. When I say tiny I really mean TINY.

Yet given that there are a lot of office workers dwelling in these shops, drinking and chatting away with their friends. I believe it’s a very local sort of atmosphere because a lot of these shops don’t have English menus and their ‘owners’ hardly speak a word of English too.

We ventured into one small cramped store but after some difficulty communicating (because how would you know what to order for Yakitoris unless you know what they serve, yes?) we decided to leave because we were not getting anywhere.

After trying our luck a couple more times at several restaurants, we wound up at this 2nd storey western place.

It was quite a western-influenced restaurant and I’m not just referring to the food. The whole vibe, decor and all was very rock and roll. The waiter serving us was quite cute thing – in a very band-ish way.

But anyway, yes the food.

My beef patty with an egg (and added sausage to share):

Hub’s beef chops:

After dinner we were quite stuffed and filled but everytime we travel abroad we always make it a point to sample their Mcdonald burger, especially so if they serve pork patty!

So we went to Mcdonald’s to pack a Teriyaki burger back for supper.

Once back, we didn’t head to the onsen today and instead enjoyed a nice bath with the LUSH Golden Egg Bath Melt / Bath Bomb!

My skin felt suitably pampered with the nourishing and luxurious lather in the water – a milky soft soapy mix that has a fresh citrus twist to it.

After we soaked in the tub and masked for a little bit, we decided to microwave the burger and have our supper.

Probably not the best shot of it but here, the Teriyaki burger:

To be frank we were a little disappointed because the burger wasn’t as nice as we had hoped it to be. There was a slight tangy taste to it, probably customized to the Japanese taste but we weren’t really a fan of it.

Hence, when in Japan, don’t bother with the Mcdonald’s. At least, that is our thought.

With that, we wrapped up Day 5 and pushed the whole luggage packing ordeal for the next morning, read on about Day 6!