JANUARY 19, 2016 (TUESDAY)
We started our 6th day in Tokyo really early — left our Airbnb place a few minutes after 5AM to catch an early train going to TSUKIJI MARKET. It was really cold that morning for me, around 4C and when we reached Tsukiji Market, it got even colder because of the wind.
Our first mission that morning was to look for the famous SUSHI DAI or SUSHI DAIWA. Once we found the long line, J stayed behind. We thought that it was the line for Daiwa which has faster turnaround since they have more seats but we later learned that the line was for Dai (the original shop). The rest of us in the group decided to look for other breakfast options…
We spent 3 hours going around the market, buying food, and resting inside a coffee shop. We also encountered a woman handing out survey forms to tourists. Main topic is Tsukiji market and the move that is going to happen late this year. I read a few articles saying that the relocation is mainly due to sanitation and safety reasons. Guess we were lucky enough to see Tsukiji in its original area before the big move.
After 3 hours, we decided to go back to Sushi Dai to check if our J had already eaten. To our surprise, she was still in line so we told her we would go around some more. After a 5-minute walk, I saw a sign that we were in GINZA already. Too bad though that all of the stores were still closed.
When we returned to Sushi Dai at past 10AM, J was already done and she said that every penny was worth it in Sushi Dai. The place charges 4,000 yen for 10 sushi pieces, in case you’re wondering. Sushi is served omakase style, meaning you leave it up to the chef to come up with the different kinds of sushi. There is no fixed menu but rest assure that each sushi is fresh and tastes really good. My office mate also said that you can order extra pieces of sushi.
After our visit in Tsukiji Market, our next stop was KAWAGOE. We boarded a train going to Takadanobaba Station, and bought tickets for Honkawagoe Station. The purchase was quite confusing though since the employee was not fluent in English. She showed us a poster that highlights a Kawagoe package. She said that it already includes 2-way ticket via New Red Arrow Line (reserved seating, scheduled rides) and bus pass in Kawagoe. We bought it and since we still had almost an hour before our train ride, we ate a light lunch in a nearby shop.
About 10 minutes before the scheduled departure, we went inside the station to look for New Red Arrow’s platform. Do not make the mistake of boarding trains randomly. Always ask around. We asked nearby locals if the train already arrived. We showed them the ticket and they would shake their heads to say that the train was not yet there.
True to the character of punctuality, our train arrived on time. It was clean and the seats were comfortable enough that I drifted to dreamland after a few minutes of sitting down. The doors connecting each cabin were also awesome because there was no knob or handle; instead, I had my hand near the door surface and motioned it like I was swiping on an invisible surface. Should have taken a video of it for better demonstration, lol.
The ride to Honkawagoe was about 45 minutes and we were at a loss where to go out. Eventually, we found it but the problem was finding the bus going to Old Town. After speaking with an employee in the station, he gave us a map with bus schedules and when we checked the time, it was already boarding time for the Koedo Loop Bus (http://www.koedo.or.jp/foreign/english/bus/). I ran like crazy when I saw the bus from the exit, and when I reached the bus, the driver had just closed the doors. I knocked loudly at the door and the old driver laughingly opened it. Now that I think about it, that was really embarrassing!
We remembered that we bought a package so we showed our train ticket but the driver did not accept it. Not sure if the employee in Takadanobaba forgot to give our bus tickets, ugh. Since we did not know the distance of the places, we bought a 1-day unli pass. It was a waste in the end because we did not ride the bus anymore after that. Also, from the station, Old Town is apparently just walking distance. The loop bus drove around different spots in Kawagoe before we reached Old Town. No regrets though because at least we can all say that we were able to ride a vintage Japan bus.
It was amazing to see lots of snow in Kawagoe at that day because in Tokyo, there was just little snow left. A few roofs even had small icicles with water dripping due to the heat. The old buildings looked amazing! This long stretch of Old Town was able to preserve the vibe and look of the Edo period.
What else to do but take pictures, look into shops, and find a restaurant that sells unagi which this place is known for…
Unfortunately, an unagi restaurant was nowhere in sight and when I checked Google Maps, it was quite far and we only had less than 2 hours to explore the place before our scheduled train trip back to Tokyo. 😦 I tried dango instead, thinking that it is the same or similar to fish balls here in MNL… Wrong! Dango is apparently made from mochi… That was okay for me but the sauce that came with it did not taste good at all. Good thing I just bought one stick. Still willing to try dango when I return to Japan, perhaps it was just a “miss” incident.
I was really hungry already since we did not have heavy lunch earlier. There were few shops opened at past 3PM that sells decent food but either the price was too expensive or the type of food sold did not interest my appetite. Eventually settled for soft-served matcha ice cream. I was given a small cup of sweet tea as part of their free tasting activity inside.
After finishing the ice cream, my office mate and I walked back towards the train station. Also took some more pictures of people and places while walking…
Five minutes before the scheduled departure, we were already at the platform but we made the mistake of going to the side where the doors were closed. We ran with all our might to be able to reach the correct area where the doors were opened. We made it in time, thankfully!
Our destination was Shibuya to eat at the famous MAISEN (MNL has a few branches of Maisen already!). Indeed, their katsu was really good — crunchy, juicy, not too oily. But the best part of our dining experience in Maisen was getting to use their own salt & spices. Too addictive! If they were selling it there, we would have bought at least a bottle each. It was also funny because it was in Maisen where my office mates saw a woman who really looked like me, especially with her side view. We also had the same habit of smacking our lips together and tucking hair behind an ear. Quite freaky but really interesting and funny.
On the way home, we dropped by SOLAMACHI where my office mates bought Tokyo Banana. Turns out that this is a famous Japanese treat so they bought a few boxes as pasalubong. Before leaving the mall, we also bought takoyaki for our drinking session at home.
While walking to our Airbnb unit, we saw the Skytree all lit up. Since it was our last night in Tokyo, we just had to take a group selfie with the Skytree in the background. Yay to selfie skills!
At home, while packing all of our clothes and pasalubong, we had our drinking session ongoing. The takoyaki still tasted good despite being quite soggy already. We did not lake the taste of the sake from the convenience store because of the very strong alcohol taste. For me, it somehow resembles isopropyl alcohol, yikes!
While packing, I could not believe that our week-long stay in Tokyo was coming to an end already. *sigh* Good thing we still had half-day left the next morning to do some last minute exploration and shopping in the Asakusa area. Til the next post!
LINKS TO OTHER TOKYO 2016 POSTS: