Tokyo in 4 Days – Day 4 – Land of Gadgets and Anime

You can’t be in Japan and not visit the mecca of anime and gadgets – Akihabara. This was the only item on our itinerary for today. Our check out time was at 10 AM – we already did our packing the night before. After having a simple breakfast of bread, milk, bacon and coffee, we bid our Airbnb goodbye.

The plan was to trace back our steps – we were going to deposit our things in a coin locker in Nihonbashi station, where we plan to take the train to Narita, and then head to Akihabara from there.

Hello Akihabara! Anime heaven!

It is my second time in Akihabara but I’ve never really completely explored the place. We were on the main road (Chuo-dori) and we were surprised that they actually block that stretch for traffic so that people could walk freely!

Don’t be fooled by the sun! It’s coooold!

The weather at this time was quite cold, and we were already hungry. We were looking for a store that serves omurice (because we were tricked by that restaurant we ate in last night). But we gave up because we could no longer handle the cold! We went in at a random restaurant, which turned out to be a ramen restaurant. I ordered a simple shoyo ramen to warm my insides.

Just a normal ramen!

After lunch, we spent most of our time in BIC Camera, which is heaven for a gadget freak like me. Hannah bought a bluetooth speaker for her sister and a portable NES player that you can connect to a TV and play old school Nintendo games on! I bought my brother a Gunpla (still no sign of Wing Zero) and Pokemon Go Plus (at only 1,500 PHP each)!

Shopping time!

Look at all of the Gunpla!

We still had enough time so in our tradition of visiting one coffee place a day, we went to a coffee shop called Honey Toast to rest our tired legs. After an hour or so, it was time to head back to Nihonbashi, and then ride the train to the airport.

At Honey Toast coffee shop!

The train ride was long, and I was reflecting again on how I really want to live in Japan, even if its just in one of the peaceful provinces outside (but near) Tokyo. While Hannah and Mhealler slept, I was gazing out of the train and bidding Japan a silent goodbye.

 

We had time for dinner at the airport and guess what I got? Omurice! Hannah just gave up and had a burger – because she missed normal food, even after all that searching in Akihabara!

Omurice at the airport!

We went home happy and satisfied. I can’t wait for our next Japan adventure in October!

Bye bye Japan! 🙁

In case you haven’t checked the rest of the trip – click here!

Tokyo in 4 Days – Day 3 – Shrines and Shopping

On our third day, I woke up already feeling anxious about leaving Japan the next day.  There were a lot of things in my mind that I wanted to do, places I wanted to visit – but there’s just never enough time each time. I got pressured thinking we only have 2 and a half days left.

But before that – a “blogger” pose from a cool wall in one of the subway stations towards our first stop.

Where did I drop that 100-yen coin?

Our first stop for today is Meiji Jingu. I have been here before but as it was Hannah’s first time, we had to take her there so she could make her wish. Stepping into Meiji Jingu is like traveling back in time, or to a place that is opposite of one’s idea of Tokyo as a modern city. I guess this is what I love about Tokyo, you can be at different kinds of places within a train ride.

A refreshing welcome

Cleansing ones hands and mouth before entering the shrine

Once inside, we checked our fortunes by drawing sticks (Omikuji). Last time I was here, I picked up something about being a wayside pebble to becoming a polished gem. This time, it’s something about being left behind when one makes no move at all.

Drawing lots!

Why is this so true?

After getting our omikujis, we bought some charms and then went in the shrine to make our wishes and prayers.

Peoples’ wishes for the day

So, what do they do with the wishes?

Writing down her wish on the votive tablet

We took a few more photos within the area before heading to our next destination.

Golden tori

Saw a Japanese wedding procession!

One more photo!

We were already hungry at this point – our initial plan was to go to Tsukiji Market and have lunch there. But – the subway train going there is 700 meters away, which is around 20-30 minutes walk.  We were almost thinking of just eating within the area but as this is our last chance to go to Tsukiji (we won’t have time tomorrow), I’m happy I pushed them to walk!

A long walk along a quiet street!

When we got to Tsukiji, the first thing we did was look for a place to eat! We didn’t have enough energy to go through several places and pick one so we just went in the first restaurant we saw. I can say though, thank goodness we forced ourselves to come!

Various kinds of sushi!

The KING of sushi – fatty tuna belly (o-toro)!

Itadakimasu!

I still dream of that o-toro up to today. After eating and regaining our strength, we went around Tsukiji a bit for sight-seeing. For those who are worried about coming to Tsukiji late in the day, don’t worry – there are still a lot of stores and restaurants that serve fresh seafood. You don’t need to be up at 3AM and witness the fish auction – if all you want is to eat the best sushi and sashimi in the city, just come to Tsukiji anytime!

I wanted to eat here, too!

Fresh seafood!

Those are big tuna heads!

Our next stop was Sensoji temple. To get to Asakusa from Tsukiji, we had to walk a bit to the train station. We passed by a Kabuki Theater which looked very grand! There were a lot of people outside the building so it was good to see that Kabuki is still popular!

Kabuki-za

Senso-ji is one of the most touristy places in Tokyo. There’s just a lot of people visiting the shrine, and a lot of shopping going on in the surrounding shopping streets.

Kaminarimon

Senso-ji Temple

We tried some street food, as well as shopped around some more for souvenirs. We spent over an hour walking around aimlessly again!

Trying out this crab street food

One of the many shopping streets surrounding Senso-ji

Afternoon chill

Yatai street! I was tempted to drink!

We rested whenever we found chairs or seating areas. When there was none to be found, we went in a coffee shop, mainly to sit down – but damn, that coffee was good, too!

Rest #1, a random empty chair on the street

Rest #2, a coffee shop called Ginza Ranzu

This was very good coffee!

When we went out of the shopping street, it was already dark! We still had a lot more shopping to do since today was our last evening in Tokyo. The next day, we would be checking out of our Airbnb already so we won’t have time to properly pack anything that we’ll buy on our last day.

We went back to Shibuya to continue our shopping. Hannah had to get some cosmetics and gifts (shoes, earphones) for her family. I didn’t really have anything particular that I wanted to buy so I just went along and looked around. There was a Don Quijote store 1 block away from our Airbnb that was open 24-hours so I was going to buy my omiyage there.

Shibuya at night

Weekend crowd

We went back to our Airbnb after the shops in Shibuya closed. We had dinner at a restaurant nearby where we saw the other day that they served omurice. To our surprise, they didn’t serve omurice – they had an omurice looking one but with noodles inside.

We thought this was omurice!

Not wagyu, but good enough beef!

Tired but happy!

After dinner, we went to Donki to buy even more snacks and souvenirs before calling it a night. This day passed by so quickly – I felt so sad because we’d be flying back to Manila the next day already.

Check the rest of our 4-day trip here.

Tokyo in 4 Days – Day 2 – Spring is coming

To be honest, we (almost) had nothing on our itinerary. This was just going to be a “do-whatever-we-want-to-do” trip, except for one or two which Hannah wanted to visit. One of these is a store with 7 floors of anything you can put your hands on (to do creative work, I mean) – Tokyu Hands in Shibuya.

Before that, we stopped for breakfast at one of my favorite “fast food” restaurants in Japan (if you can call it that). Sukiya is a competitor to Yoshinoya in terms of affordable and delicious Japanese food (you can already get a nice set meal for 600 JPY).

Sukiya for brunch!

 

Hannah’s Sukiyaki-don and a big bowl of miso soup!

We walked down the street to Tokyu Hands and took our sweet time looking at colored pencils, art materials, different kinds of pens and paper, and other cool things. I had to stop by the Gunpla section to look for a model my brother wants (RG Wing Zero).

Right most Gundam at the back – Wing Zero is out of stock! 🙁

We realized we hadn’t taken any photo until we reached the top floor!

Tokyu Hands is really a must-visit for creative people. There’s a lot of things you can buy that’s not really available outside Japan (or if they are, for a hefty price).  I wanted to get some colored pencils but I know I’ll only be slacking so I decided not to. Next time, when I do get the passion to draw and make art again – I will definitely buy some good stuff!

We spent over an hour inside Tokyu Hands, so we were tired when we got out. I spotted a Doutor coffee shop nearby so we stopped over for some coffee and a mille crepe cake.

Another mandatory group photo…

 

This is a mille crepe cake, if you didn’t know what it looked like. Just layers of crepe and cream!

Our itinerary as mentioned was sort of blank, so while I was browsing through Instagram – I saw a post from a friend living in Japan of pictures of plum blossoms, almost in full bloom! We couldn’t hope for cherry blossoms at the time of our visit, so this was like an unexpected surprise. We had to go! This was at Shinjuku Gyoen. On the way to the train station, we stopped by a few stores to look for bargain deals – and snagged a few at Bershka.

Bershka’s cool interiors (and Mhealler)

It was a very windy walk to Shinjuku Gyoen from the nearest train station. But the moment we got there, we were just taking photos non-stop! Hannah and I got our old “photographer” hats on and just shot away!

Hello there white ones!

Pink ones too!

Spring was on its way!

Of course, we had to take some “model” shots – which was a lot of fun to do! If only I could show you blooper pics, which is around 90% of the shots.

Mhealler’s throw-that-jacket-behind-your-back pose

Hannah’s look-fierce-while-fixing-your-hair pose

My “I-need-to-go-to-the-toilet” pose

Photo shoots are tiring! We realized after this that we can’t be models! After laughing so much, we got so tired that we spent a good 30 minutes lying under a tree in the park.

Obviously, Mhealler is not done posing for the camera

Tired but happy!

My view while lying down!

As the sun was about to set, it was also time for us to go to our next destination. We had a really good time in Shinjuku Gyoen – it’s a very nice place to relax, maybe read a book on the weekend – I was thinking scenarios in my head for when I will live in Tokyo (wishful thinking). Anyhow, after all the day dreaming, we wiped the grass of our behinds and headed off to Harajuku!

It was already dark when we got to Takeshita street in Harajuku. The place was packed. We just walked around the area until I stumbled upon my favorite ramen shop in Tokyo! Yokohama style Ramen!

The busy street of Takeshita

3,000 yen bags, anyone?

At the other end of Takeshita street (the one without the JR Station), sits my favorite ramen place in all of Tokyo. On my first time in Tokyo, our Airbnb host brought us to a ramen place in Ikebukuro where I had my first “authentic” ramen moment. It was the best broth my tongue tasted and I have been craving for that taste ever since. We didn’t go to Ikebukuro this time, but we stumbled upon a branch of the same ramen place in Harajuku! What luck!

For me, still the best ramen in the world. So far.

I couldn’t read the kanji, so I took a photo of the front of the store and asked my Japanese friend to read the name to me. This is for me to search for it next time, wherever in Japan I may be.

After eating, we didn’t go back to Takeshita street, but explored the alleys near this ramen place, and we ended up in Omotesando!

This was our route in Harajuku/Omotesando.

After Omotesando, we found our way back to the other end of Takeshita street and had a crepe. We were already so tired at this point.

Which one to order? They all look good!

While walking back to the train station, we passed by Daiso and did a shopping spree of gifts to bring back home (omiyage) as everything was for 100 yen!  Our feet were at the point of giving up already and the nearest train station was a JR station, which is not covered by our Tokyo Metro All Day pass. We didn’t want to walk any further so we took the JR train back to Shibuya!

When we got home, we slept for an hour. At around 10 PM, we decided to go out because it’s such a waste to be sleeping in Tokyo! After walking around our neighborhood, we stumbled upon another chicken place that served drinks!

My favorite part of traveling, walking wherever our feet will take us!

Mhealler’s high ball!

I also had a big high ball, Hannah got a small one!

We had a few more drinks after these photos. In short, we went home buzzed enough to get a good night’s sleep! It was indeed a long day, by the time I was about to sleep, I had already forgotten what we did in the morning!

Check out the rest of our trip here!

Tokyo in 4 Days – Day 1 PM – Favorite Site/Sight

Unfortunately, the train from Shibuya to where we were staying was not a subway line. So, we had to use the normal PASMO/SUICA card for this part of our commute. For future accommodations, I will keep in mind to make sure there is a subway line running nearby.

Nevertheless, we loved our Airbnb for this trip. The building is located in an area surrounded by restaurants, stores, and even a 24-hour Don Quijote! I wouldn’t mind staying there again, to be honest. Here’s the link in case you want to check it out.  If it’s your first time to use Airbnb, use my code so that you can get a discount (shameless plug).

Fits 4 comfortably, can squeeze in up to 5!

To give you an idea of how lively the neighborhood is, a 2 minute walk can take you to this street (or alley) – lined up with restaurants! This is one single continuous street in Sangenjaya (starts under the train station at the top, going through until the bottom part); and perhaps just one of many!

After resting up, we walked around the neighborhood, specifically the street above, and enjoyed the sights, scent, and the energy of it all. This really is Japan!

There’s a lot of takeout stores like this one.

The entire street/alley is lined up with stores and restaurants

Yakitori restaurant beside a Karaoke place

We spent a good hour walking around, trying out some of the take out food (chicken), and taking photos.  What makes this place stand out is that it isn’t a “tourist” district. This is more of a place where locals go to hangout in the evening or during weekends, which I really prefer over densely populated places.

Almost time for dinner, looking for a place to eat!

For dinner, we ended up at a yakitori place called Torikizoku, where everything on the menu was at 280 yen (if my memory serves me right). And my god, I loved the liver skewers, it’s levels above what we have here in the Philippines!

I am craving for this liver skewer right now.

After dinner, our next destination was my favorite sight/site in the entire world – the magnificent, bright orange illumination that lights up the Tokyo night sky – Tokyo Tower. We took the train to Shiba Park where you were supposed to get a good view of Tokyo Tower.

Tokyo Tower from Shiba Park

We saw the first blossoms of spring!

Since Tokyo Tower looked quite close to where we are, we decided to walk towards it.

I cried at this point. Kidding.

Getting so close..

I see you have no underwear.

Quite frankly, these photos don’t do Tokyo Tower justice. You have to see it in person to be fully amazed!

We didn’t go up to the observatory anymore, because you couldn’t really see Tokyo Tower from inside it. However, we went inside the building under it, and was surprised that there was a One Piece store, restaurant, and coffee shop in it!

Too bad they were already closed when we got there!

Trick art painting on the floor

I’ve just started watching One Piece recently…so I’m a newbie fan

It was time to go home, but before that, we had to touch the base of the Tokyo Tower, as if to harness some of its bright energy. We also took a few more photos outside, where there was a big snow globe with Chopper inside, and some illumination outside.

We were a bit hungry when we got home, so we ended the night with authentic cup ramen.

Itadakimasu!

And that wraps up Day 1.  Check the rest of our trip here!

Tokyo in 4 Days – Day 1 AM – Tada Ima!

We arrived at Narita Airport at around 7 AM, with intermittent 5 hours of sleep on the plane.  Prior to exiting the plane, the flight attendant said “It’s very freezing outside, please keep warm.” She was right! We walked from Terminal 3 (JetStar) to Terminal 2, where the train station is located. We rented a mobile wifi device and bought our Tokyo Subway Tickets before leaving the airport.

Photo op before boarding the train

Our Airbnb accommodation is two stations away from Shibuya Station, at Sangenjaya. We bought a one-time use ticket from Narita Terminal 2 to Nihonbashi station (Narita Skyaccess), and used our Tokyo Subway Ticket from there to Shibuya.

We were starving when we arrived, but we didn’t want to eat at the airport, so we headed out upon arriving at Nihonbashi station to look for a nearby Japanese restaurant. A lot of the restaurants we passed by were closed, so we ended up picking the first open restaurant we saw.

Katsudon set for brunch!

After eating, we headed back to Nihonbashi station to continue our commute towards Shibuya.  We had a couple of hours to kill since our check in time is at 3PM. So, we decided to start exploring Shibuya central area while waiting. We left our bags at the coin locker near the station so that we could enjoy walking around.

But first, photo op with Hachiko!

The famous Shibuya crossing

We went into Tsutaya to have coffee from the 2nd floor Starbucks and watch the Shibuya crossing action from there, but there were no window seats available. So, we ended up listening to some of the latest music from Japan’s top artists instead.

Perfume’s Tokyo Girl was playing EVERYWHERE

After checking out the entire Tsutaya building (record stores, books, and a posh cafe on the top floor), we crossed the street to L’Occitane cafe, which also had a good view of the intersection. Although this cafe was quite pricey, we got a taste of the best ice cream ever.

The ice cream on these creme brulee – best ever!

We spent a good hour people watching as we were seated right by the window. We also took a time lapse of the whole Shibuya crossing action.

At around 1:30 PM, our Airbnb host texted us that we could already check-in in advance as the unit was already ready. We finished our coffee and went back to the station, excited to wash up and rest a bit!

This already feels like a long post, so Part 2 of Day 1 will be in the next entry!