Our First Foray to Japan! – Tokyo 2014 DAY 01

  • By Sara

Hello!

It’s been awhile since this space has been updated and while the plan was for it to be a side-blog, talking about other things in life as opposed to my constant beauty rambles at Icyabstract Makeup. Though somehow I never found time for it… That, and also because I never found appropriate content.

Lifestyle blogging is a lot harder than beauty blogging apparently. Or maybe it’s just me with my reservations about oversharing every aspect of my everyday.

Though ANYWAY!

We’re back, with a new URL (previously schuledays, and prior to that kerandkye). It seems like we swap out a new URL after every trip… heh.

So… JAPAN, let’s go!


The tricky thing about this trip is that Hubs and I aren’t traveling in and out of Japan together. In fact, Hubs is already in Japan (Kagoshima) when I am en route to Tokyo, though he would only be joining me later that night.

The up side to that is that I get a whole day to myself, which is quite awesome if you think about all the makeup venturing and sight-seeing I could do without having to worry if the Hubs was bored.

My own time to see, venture and swatch. It’s quite perfect if you ask me!

So I flew to Tokyo on a mid-night flight, via Japan Airlines which was moderately comfortable. The plane was a little more cramped than I thought, for a ‘normal carrier’, but decent enough with good enough service (and food).

I managed to catch up on some flicks while on the 7 hour flight, as well as get a little shut-eye. Though frankly that was quite tough.

I was so excited when I touched down in Tokyo, a land that so many had talked about.

In a way I couldn’t believe I was actually here – FINALLY!

To be fair, Tokyo wasn’t even a destination we had plans to visit anytime soon, but then spontaneity happened and… look where I ended up!

I was properly welcomed to Tokyo via their washroom facilities, it was the start of a beautiful (though shortlived) toilet experience.

Honestly though, Singapore should install more bidets and heated toilet seats in their malls. Especially heated toilet seats, that thing is gold!

Okay this is frivolous toilet speak right now but while I loved the high-tech bidet system found in almost all their toilets (even train station ones), I wasn’t quite used to how thin their toilet paper is. I rarely come across anything that is 3 ply, majority of them being 1 ply.

Though oh well, no matter, just a random observation.

Ending the toilet talks with a toilet selfie, here’s what I wore on Day 1!

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The first order of business was to head to the hotel to check-in and drop-off my luggage; our hotel was situated between Shibuya and Harajuku.

From Haneda Airport, I purchased a Suica (3,000 Yen one) and took the Keikyu Line towards Shinagawa, where I then changed to the Yamanote Line towards Harajuku.

In Tokyo, taking the train is a tricky business. It’s not exactly difficult if you have the right resources (train maps and all) though if you are new to Tokyo it helps to be mindful about the platforms and signages when you’re in the station.

In instance of the Keikyu Line (and other lines that run along Tokyo’s outskirts), a few trains stop by the same platform and not all of them end up going the same way so it’s best to keep an eye on the board for which train is arriving first and where it is going.

In short, don’t board the first train you see, else you end up in a completely different place!

So, anyway, I managed to get on the right train (bound to Shinagawa) and had a bit of a shock a few times when it skipped by some stations but as I said – the trains use the same rail but doesn’t necessarily have the same ‘route’.

Long story short, I changed at Shinagawa to the Yamanote Line, took that all the way to Harajuku and dragged my luggage over to my hotel just fine.

I think it helped to Google Map the route a few times ahead of time just to be sure.

Since I arrived a little sooner than my requested check-in time (of 1pm), I dropped my luggage and decided to roam the streets about my hotel first.

I could have proceeded with my great plan of training down to Ginza for some makeup shopping but I wanted to settle into the hotel, unpack some items and whatnot first.

Plus I was waiting for the delivery of my wifi router which oddly (was supposed to reach in the morning) wasn’t there yet at 11am.

Could anyone enlighten me about this store?

When I dragged my luggage by it earlier, before the store opened, there was a snaking queue of people waiting to get in and the same occurrence happened every day we were there. I popped by after I snapped this shot but… I wasn’t exactly impressed by what the store carried.

It had some cute novel items and household items, very much like a slightly more expensive Daiso, but… I just didn’t understand the queue. Is it new in Tokyo?

Tokyu Plaza! A little mall loaded with apparel brands.

Laforet! Where you can find Topshop / Topman as well as some slightly high-street priced Tokyo fashion stores.

I find it so interesting that boutiques are by the road-side over there.

Crepe! One of the few stores in the Harajuku area but we’ll get back to that…

I wandered over to the Harajuku street across the popular Takeshita street, the road that led towards the Omotesando / Meiji-jingumae area because I had a mission on hand.

A mission to get my morning cuppa from Omotesando Koffee!

Though before that, here are snaps from the streets of Omotesando-Harajuku area.

I explored the little alley that Hubs was google mapping from home because it contained some of the street brands he wanted to check out – Undefeated and Supreme.

Can you believe, that’s a hair salon? How cool.

Queuing is quite a normal sight in Tokyo too as this rainbow-pancake parlor was seen with queues the whole time we were there!

Wilting sakuras in a residential area.

 

After quite a long stroll about and me almost giving up (because I didn’t have wifi access to check my maps, grr), I walked by this quaint little house and a strong aroma of coffee blew by.

Feeling curious I went closer… lo and behold, the Omotesando Koffee I was searching high and low for is right here!

There is hardly a signage for this place, no wonder it’s so easy to miss.

Omotesando Koffee
4-15-3 Jingumae
Shibuya-ku, Tokyo

Upon arriving, I can see why Omotesando Koffee was so well recommended by varying groups of friends.

The decor here is simplistic, housed in a machiya (traditional Japanese house) with no airs about the place, just a simple and beautiful touch of nature with your coffee. It’s so perfectly serene and beautiful.

Though when I arrived there were 2 groups of people there – a lone woman and a couple, who were thankfully not disruptive.

The baileys cappuccino was highly recommended by my pals but I decided that I would save that experience when I revisit this place with Hubs. Instead, I ordered my usual caffeine kicker – an Iced Latte.

Aside from the beautiful ambience of the place, the coffee served was good as well – aromatic with a decent body. It isn’t too strong nor was it mild and ‘diluted’ in an iced form.

It’s an Iced Latte that I definitely miss now that I am back in Singapore!

After I had my morning cuppa in an absolutely peaceful and serene setting, I decided to make my way back to the hotel.

But it’s not without dropping by a convenience store on the way to grab some quick bites for lunch!

Most of you would have known this by now but the convenience stores in Tokyo are really no joke – they are so well stocked with fast (yet still yummy looking) bites. Even the drinks look so appealing as well!

Though I walked out of that konbini-food-heaven with a small little onigiri – I really wasn’t too hungry, somehow.

A simple mentaiko + seaweed (?) onigiri that was so so good.

After picking that up, I strolled back to our hotel (Dormy Inn Premium Shibuya Jingumae) since it was over 1pm and I could check-in already.

Upon reaching the room, I was pleasantly surprised at how spacious it was – given Tokyo’s hotel room standards.

Though to be honest we did fork out quite a fair bit more for this hotel, as opposed to other options we had.

The bath-tub included was a proper and actual bath tub size! I was most surprised with that, fully expecting it to be the squashed triangular sort, typical to Tokyo hotels.

The hotel room was pretty great with the usual facilities of a television, hair dryer, refrigerator and whatnot amidst the cool heated (and bidet-installed) toilet and air purifier.

There was micro-waving amenities on the 4th floor (along with vending machines), as well as an indoor onsen open to hotel guests on the 2nd floor. They even have a pillow-loaning counter with pillows of varying stuffings incase the soft and flimsy one provided isn’t to your liking.

My wifi router had also arrived by the time I checked in so I picked that up as well and fiddled about with it while I had my onigiri.

After I was all settled, I decided it was about time to journey to Ginza so, off I went – to Shibuya Train Station to take the Ginza line to… well, Ginza!

Managed to catch more Sakura blooms on the way, as well as new blooms of other flowers. Spring time looks so beautiful in Tokyo.

While, from the map, our hotel appeared further from Shibuya than Harajuku, it was actually a lot closer and easier to walk towards the Shibuya station because of the underpass that you could not see from Google Maps.

After about a 20 min journey (could have been less or more, I wasn’t really counting), I arrived at Ginza and this was the first thing to greet me the minute I tapped out of the gantry.

Well, well, just where I wanted to go!

Hakuhodo was the first thing I saw in Mitsukoshi but given our frequent encounter with this brand, I didn’t have anything in mind so I gave it a quick look and left.

The Mika Ninagawa for Shu Uemura collection was already out in Tokyo, so I had a little look of that there.

ADDICTION – of course I had to have a look.

The new Spring 2014 collection was recently launched during my visit.

I was swapping some vampy lipsticks for a makeup pal and thought to include that picture here. The shade on the right (Vamp) is so so beautiful, I was tempted to pick it up for myself as well.

The MAs in Tokyo are quite strict about photo-taking (or rather no photo-taking) so I had to sneakily snap the rest of the shots I got from Mitsukoshi.

All the counter brands we are familiar with, and more!

Laduree makeup! Though frankly I’m not too interested so I caught a glimpse and passed. That and there was quite a crowd about the counter.

THREE! Another brand I am happy to see in person.

And Jo Malone having their own little counter tucked away at the corner.

After making my rounds about the makeup level of Mitsukoushi, I decided to venture out to explore the streets of Ginza. That, and also because I had a personal mission to source out some makeup haunts.

The streets of Ginza are filled with high-end boutiques of all sorts, from Louis Vuitton to Dior, Givenchy and lots more.

Amidst all the high-street and high-end brands was a Matsumoto Kiyoshi building which I of course zoomed over to.

It’s makeup galore here with so many brands and so many makeup items from cheek products to brushes, eyeliners and not forgetting lashes!

The lower ‘pharmaceutical’ floor was also filled with ache-relief patches amongst other medicated / medication items.

Basically there was a whole lot to see and get here but at the same time it’s overwhelming to the point that I felt I didn’t really need all this. Though it was fun to browse and be surrounded in some form of a drugstore makeup heaven.

Below are random swatches of some brow and eye products from Integrate. I was deliberating the liquid liner for a good while because of how rich and black it is!

In the end I passed because, well, I truly don’t need another liquid liner as of now.

The famed Shiseido ‘drugstore brush’!

After spending a good while at Matsumoto Kiyoshi, it was time to head back on the streets.

Queuing seems to be quite a thing in Tokyo as well, who said that it was just Singaporeans with the hobby of queuing? Ha.

Now this building right here might not look like much but if you’re a brush fan, it’s a building you need to take note of…

Because the Chikuhodo (and Koyudo) distrubutor – Kumanofude – resides in this plain ole building, on the second floor!

Kumanofude Select Shop – Hiroshima Satelite Shop Ginza 2F
1 Chome-6-10 Ginza,
Chūō, Tokyo, Japan

I had in mind to snag up a couple of Chikuhodo’s Z Series but alas, for some reason, a good majority of the brushes that I had in mind to get were out of stock. I was eyeing a Koyudo Fupa 02 as well but that too was out of stock and stocks for everything wouldn’t be in till the next Friday; I would be back in Singapore by then.

I didn’t want to come all this way and leave without a Chikuhodo brush so I spent a good while browsing the range ‘forcing’ myself to pick something up, ha!

Though to be fair, I did like what I chose in the end. However the Z series pieces are still on my mind.

 

After locating that tucked away brush distributor, I roamed the streets of Ginza again and came across this beautiful street lined with rows of pink Sakuras!

Majority of Sakuras in Tokyo are rather white or a pale white-pink, it is rare to come across rich and vibrant pink blooms so I had quite a field day snapping shots of these.

Aside from Sakuras, there were beautifully colorful and cheery blooms that lined the main streets of Ginza, injecting a Spring vibe amidst this very cosmopolitan part of Tokyo.

I wandered along to my final makeup haunt / mission for the day – Mary Quant!

This particular Mary Quant branch in Ginza was a little hard to locate but as I later learned during my stay, Mary Quant is actually in quite an abundance here in Tokyo! I easily came across 2 – 3 more in 0101 and other departmental stores (in Shinjuku and Ueno).

I found out from my mother-in-law that Mary Quant had a little stint in Singapore back in the day – I had no idea about that! Their products are a little reminiscent of Anna Sui yet not as extravagant.

The shadows were of smooth and good quality. Not all displayed the same smooth texture and pigmentation but a good number of them did.

The purple is such a gorgeous shade but unfortunately a little chalky, though the brown on the other hand was divine.

I thought the palettes were quite cute but I managed to control myself and only picked up what my friend wanted.

After this, it was getting fairly late (and chilly) so I wandered back to Mitsukoshi to roam the beauty hall once more before proceeding to Food Hall to decide on something for dinner.

Addiction lippie swatches again – Vamp on the top and Lady of the Lake below.

The extravagantly priced ‘first love’ strawberries! They were about 65SGD per pack, that is insane!

After circling the Food Hall for a good while, I picked up a bento and train-ed back to the hotel to properly enjoy my dinner.

There weren’t any tables or sitting area within the Food Hall and by that time (about 7pm +) I just wanted to head back and rest my legs.

Here’s my bento dinner, which costed about 1,300 Yen (15SGD).

For 15 SGD I felt it was a good array of stuff from beef to eggplant, seasoned egg, salmon, potato salad and more! If only bentos in Singapore were this awesome.

 

After I finished up with my dinner, sat around for a bit and skyped my parents, I got a little bored so I decided to roam about nearby.

Since it was really chilly at night – no sun, plus strong winds – I bundled up a little more.

Though the sad thing about Tokyo is that there isn’t much of a nightlife and by 9pm, close to 10, everything is closed.

Look at how dead and eerie the hip and happening Takeshita Street is at night.

With that I roamed over to Shibuya station since I got word that Hubs had arrived in Tokyo and was taking a train down from Haneda airport.

The sakura-adorned Hachiko Exit/Entrance at Shibuya.

Eventually, after an hour long wait Hubs had arrived so we strolled through the (slightly) dead streets of Shibuya before heading back to the hotel and calling it a night.

Below, the famed Shibuya Crossing!

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And this marks the end of my solo adventures and Day 1 of Tokyo!

Continue on to Day 2!

5 thoughts on “Our First Foray to Japan! – Tokyo 2014 DAY 01

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