Tokyo, Day 5: Akihabara and Revisiting Shibuya

We went straight to Akihabara, and Mark and I were in pure bliss because we were in the popular anime place! We visited the big DONKI (DON QUIJOTE) store first to buy all sorts of pasalubong, mainly food (instant noodles + chocolates). After that, we headed to RADIO KAIKAN and went crazy at each floor. We were not allowed to take pictures, especially in areas of action figures. T.T

JANUARY 18, 2016

We were greeted in the morning by the first snowfall in Tokyo for 2016. Toshi-san’s prediction that we would be able to experience it was right on mark. We were not able to witness the actual snowfall but seeing that much of snow was already enough to make me happy. The last time I saw snow was back in January 2014, which was also my first time to see it.

Thick snow covering the roofs of every house and building
More snow!

We started the day quite late, leaving the lodging at past 1PM. We had our late lunch in the food court of SOLAMACHI, and I picked the store which sells Japanese curry dish.

We went straight to Akihabara, and Mark and I were in pure bliss because we were in the popular anime place! We visited the big DONKI (DON QUIJOTE) store first to buy all sorts of pasalubong, mainly food (instant noodles + chocolates). After that, we headed to RADIO KAIKAN and went crazy at each floor. We were not allowed to take pictures, especially in areas of action figures. T.T The place has all sorts of merchandise for anime lovers — manga, action figures, CD copies of the shows, drawing guides, OST CDs, etc.

I wished we could have stayed longer so that we could visit more anime/manga places in Akiba. *sigh* We went to Shibuya afterwards to do some more shopping…

Hello there, Hachiko! We finally met!

Our first stop was TOKYU HANDS, which has 7 floors and per floor, it has 3 sections (A, B, C). The place sells all sorts of items — ballpens, friction pens & highlighters, brush pens, postcards, stationery, bags & wallets, cosmetics, etc. Shopaholics will definitely love this place!

I was excited and itching to go to our next destination, which was recommended by Mark since he absolutely loves the same show to… ONE PIECE MUGIWARA STORE in Parco Shibuya. YAAAYYY!!! Good thing it was just walking distance from Tokyu Hands. So happy to see huge figures of Zoro, Luffy, and Chopper outside the store. I splurged on the One Piece gachapon machines outside, and bought some more keychains inside the store. I also bought a Perona cellphone audio jack, but I AM SO SAD TO SAY THAT I LOST IT HERE IN MNL. 😥

We went to look for ICHIRAN after our shopping trip for One Piece goodies…

There was a line but we decided to stay since it seemed like we would not wait that long. We ended up sitting in separate cubicles so we were able to experience eating alone.

It was interesting how we ordered our ramen — we were asked to “create” our ramen using a vendo machine, which would let out a small paper slip after you paid for it. Then, the waiter would hand out a paper so that you can check your preferences when it comes to flavor, richness, garlic, sliced pork, green onions, original red sauce, and noodle texture. This part resembles the way Ramen Nagi in MNL does things so it was familiar to me at that point.

I liked the way they cook their ramen because it is not that salty. It was good but still not decided if that is indeed the best ramen.

We called it a night after this dinner since we still had to wake up really early the next day for Tsukiji Market.

 

LINKS TO OTHER TOKYO 2016 POSTS:

Tokyo, Day 1: Tofuro Restaurant, Hotel Monterey Akasaka, Gindaco Takoyaki

Tokyo, Day 2: Tokyo Disneyland

Tokyo, Day 3: Mt. Fuji, Komagatake Ropeway, Lake Ashi + Cruise

Tokyo, Day 4: Meiji Jingu, Imperial Palace, Sensoji Temple, Ueno Park

Tokyo, Day 6: Tsukiji Market, Kawagoe, Maisen

Tokyo, Day 7: Revisiting Asakusa

Tokyo, Day 4: Shrines, Temples, and Museums

Our first stop during our 4th day in Tokyo was the MEIJI JINGU (or Meiji Shrine) in Shibuya. It was just around 8AM so there were only a few locals when we got there.

Toshi-san explained that “shrine” is used for sacred areas under Shintoism while “temple” is for Buddhism. He taught us how to pray like the locals and explained a bit more about Meiji Jingu.

JANUARY 17, 2016

It was the last day of our company outing (but not last day in Tokyo for me and a few colleagues) so we had to check out at Hotel Monterey Akasaka.

Bye to this nice view of Tokyo from our room

Our first stop during our 4th day in Tokyo was the MEIJI JINGU (or Meiji Shrine) in Shibuya. It was just around 8AM so there were only a few locals when we got there.

Temizu — process to clean one’s self before entering the shrine
Raking the pebbles neatly also helps in cleansing visitors

Toshi-san explained that “shrine” is a term used for sacred areas under Shintoism while “temple” is for Buddhism. He taught us how to pray like the locals and explained a bit more about Meiji Jingu.

I kind of drifted away from the group when I saw the ema at one side of the shrine. I only saw these in some anime shows I watched so seeing them in reality was a delight. Most of the ema are written of course in kanji, but I still found it fascinating to look at some of the ema with cute drawings.

When I returned to the group, Toshi-san was already giving instructions on meet-up time and place as he would give us free time to explore the place. I followed a few office mates exiting the shrine but I remembered that there was one area in the shrine proper which I did not check out. I traced back my steps and found some locals crowding a wooden box where they were getting a piece of paper.

At first, I thought it was like a fortune cookie where you get to know your luck/fortune for the day… But apparently, they were getting omigokoro which is a poem card written by either Emperor Meiji or Empress Shoken. According to the printed paper in English:

“Emperor Meiji wrote about 100,000 waka and the Empress about 30,000 waka, which are not only excellent as literary works but also constitute significant teachings to enhance the national moral character. Meiji Jingu has chosen fifteen waka each from among their composition in order to provide visitors and worshippers with the divine grace of the Imperial couple in the form of omikuji (oracles).”

No shrine staff to watch over this. Goes to show how honest Japanese people are as they trust that no one would dare not to drop 100 yen.

After getting an omigokoro, I noticed two women in the other stall browsing boxes then getting a small item and paying for it. I got curious so I checked it out. The items sold looked like amulets but everything was in kanji, except for the price. Then, I found one amulet which had an English translation — unfortunately, I found its purpose not that relevant for me but at least it confirmed that all the items were amulets indeed.

I picked an amulet randomly, praying that it was of more relevance — whether for luck, work, love, or health — then paid for it. I was already itching to go back to the bus so that I could ask Toshi-san what kind of amulet I got.

But, before I left this area, I saw a couple dressed in traditional clothes passing by. A woman and photographer were following them so I guess they were having a pre-nup shoot here. So lucky to be able to see locals wearing their traditional clothing~!

I was able to catch up with two office mates and we passed by Toshi-san who was counting the number of people going back to the bus. I tried to ask about the amulet I bought but he said he would check later.

We went to the souvenir shop first before heading back to the bus. Once we were complete in the bus, Toshi-san mentioned to the group that I bought an amulet. Turns out that what I chose was a luck amulet and he told me to keep it with me at all times. He showed his own luck amulet which he keeps in his wallet. He said that the amulet had been with him for 40+ years already, even before he got married. Amazing!!

My luck amulet and omigokoro

Our next stop was the TOKYO IMPERIAL PALACE, where the Emperor of Japan resides. Of course, we were not able to get close and see the Emperor. But Toshi-san said that there are certain occasions when they open a part of the palace so that people can go closer and see the Emperor and his wife when they greet the crowd. If I’m not mistaken, one of the occasions is New Year.

After Toshi-san explained everything about the place, we were given some free time for picture taking before we leave the place…

We went to Asakusa area afterwards and visited SENSOJI TEMPLE, which is for Buddhist worshippers. Toshi-san said that most Japanese people practice both Shintoism and Buddhism so temples and shrines can be easily found.

Most of the people in our group chose to do some last minute shopping around the area, and the ones left behind with Toshi-san are the people who would be extending stay in Tokyo — me + 3 office mates.

We visited on a Sunday so the temple was full of worshippers and tourists, yikes. Toshi-san took us around the whole area of the temple and he took time to explain every area and statue to us.

I love hearing things directly from a local as it makes me feel closer to their culture, and it always fascinates me to hear their own stories and opinion. 🙂

At one point in our walking tour, Toshi-san led us to an area where we could get our omikuji, the famous fortune-telling paper slips in Japan temples. We dropped 100 yen coin each, shook a metal can with wooden sticks and took out one stick, located the drawer with the same number as the one in the drawn stick (note that the number is in kanji though), then get the paper at the topmost. The one I got was…

..the BEST fortune. I showed it to Toshi-san and he suddenly hugged me tightly. He patted me at the back and happily told me that I was really lucky to get this one so I should always keep it with me. Apparently, drawing daikichi (great/best fortune) is quite rare. Yay! If one gets bad luck/fortune, the paper slip must be tied to a nearby tying station (not sure what it is called). Toshi-san said that this is practiced so that you leave the bad luck/fortune behind.

After exploring the area, we started to walk to our meet-up place with the rest of the group. We passed by a long alley of different kinds of stores — souvenirs, local delicacy, bags, accessories, etc. Toshi-san recommended a local food, can’t recall its name though since the matcha flavor I got did not taste that good.

After regrouping, we had our lunch in a restaurant nearby…

…then traced back our steps to go back to our bus. The four of us who would be extending would get our luggage while the rest of the group would head back home that evening.

We parted ways with the rest of the group, bid our goodbye and said our thanks to Toshi-san and Yamada-san (our bus driver). After that, we took a cab going to the Airbnb unit I booked for our extended stay in Tokyo. It was a good thing that the Airbnb listing was just in Asakusa area so paying for the cab was not that bad. I chose a listing from Shoji & Coco (https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/4807040) because of the following:

  • Price per night is at par with other listings but this one has a spacious area that really fits 4 people i.e., not cramped
  • Clean bathroom
  • Walking distance to Oshiage station, Tokyo Skytree, and Solamachi (mall)
  • Responsive and helpful hosts

After settling down, we headed to UENO PARK to start our museum hopping… which ended up in us going to just one museum since we were too tired already. We only visited the NATIONAL MUSEUM OF NATURE AND SCIENCE — a bit of a bummer though that most of the stuff inside do not have English translation, but we were still able to appreciate the displays inside.

We took a rest in one of the coffee shops in the park then headed for Shinjuku. We went back to BIC CAMERA (visited a few days ago) to purchase a 3-day unlimited train ticket for 1,500 yen. Note that this is only for Tokyo Metro and Toei Subway lines — thankfully, most of the stations we rode were under these lines. We only paid extra for a few stations under JR line.

We shopped in the nearby Uniqlo afterwards then headed to Ichiran Ramen for dinner. The line was long though and an employee said that we would have to wait for about 40 minutes. We decided to look for another place since we were really hungry, and we stumbled upon a place that sells food in sizzling plates. We waited for about 10-15 minutes since the place was small and full of customers.

It was worth the wait since the food was good. Also a welcome break from soupy dishes!

We went back to our lodging after this dinner to get a long rest and prepare for the next day. 🙂

 

LINKS TO OTHER TOKYO 2016 POSTS:

Tokyo, Day 1: Tofuro Restaurant, Hotel Monterey Akasaka, Gindaco Takoyaki

Tokyo, Day 2: Tokyo Disneyland

Tokyo, Day 3: Mt. Fuji, Komagatake Ropeway, Lake Ashi + Cruise

Tokyo, Day 5: Akihabara, Shibuya – Tokyu Hands, One Piece Mugiwara Store, Ichiran

Tokyo, Day 6: Tsukiji Market, Kawagoe, Maisen

Tokyo, Day 7: Revisiting Asakusa

Tokyo, Day 2: Tokyo Disneyland (Chiba)

Our 2nd day in Tokyo was dedicated to TOKYO DISNEYLAND. We were already there even before the gates opened but the crowd ahead of us was already HUGE. There were lots of teenager students (on their field trip perhaps) and families waiting as well.

JANUARY 15, 2016

Our 2nd day in Tokyo was dedicated to TOKYO DISNEYLAND. We were already there even before the gates opened but the crowd ahead of us was already HUGE. There were lots of teenager students (on their field trip perhaps) and families waiting as well.

I read about a few rides in Disneyland offering Fast Pass so we ran towards Space Mountain to get one but apparently, what we got was the one for Stitch Encounter. T.T Good thing the line in SPACE MOUNTAIN was not yet long… or so we thought. The real good thing was that the line was moving quickly even if it was quite long already. I got to ride the same attraction in Hong Kong Disneyland (which I really enjoyed) so I had good expectations on this one.

While waiting for our turn in the Space Mountain attraction

After riding Space Mountain, we explored Disneyland to take some pictures then got a Fast Pass for Big Thunder Mountain. Quite a crazy idea to ride a fast-moving cart in an open space during winter, huh.

After getting our Fast Pass, we ran to the area where a lot of people were waiting for the DISNEY PARADE OF CHARACTERS. The first set was FROZEN and I saw lots of kids who were smiling widely as Anna, Kristoff, Sven, and Olaf passed. But, the main highlight was Elsa and her iconic song “Let It Go” (Japanese version) was playing while her float was moving. I was not able to capture a good shot of her since she was still far from our place. We had to leave the place before I could have a good view of her because we had to meet Toshi-san near Disneyland Hotel at 11:50AM for lunch. *sigh*

We had a buffet lunch inside DISNEYLAND HOTEL, and there were different cuisines to choose from. The highlight for me was the desserts area because everything looked mouthwatering but at the same time too pretty to eat.

After lunch, we headed back to the theme park to ride Big Thunder Mountain, try a few more attractions, and look for characters we would love to take pictures with…

Donald Duck!
©Nicole – IT’S CINDERELLA’S FAIRY GODMOTHER! Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo!
©Nicole – Crossing a bridge while on Tom Sawyer Island

While waiting for our turn for Beaver Brothers Explorer Canoes
Same as HK — Tokyo also has “It’s A Small World” attraction

While walking, I also took some shots of locals inside Disneyland…

It was a bit of a bummer though that we were not able to see the fireworks display as we had to leave at 5PM to continue our itinerary.

We went straight to Shibuya to see the busy and iconic SHIBUYA CROSSING. It was chaos when the pedestrian light turned green, especially since we came to see it on a Friday night. From the crossing, I went with two colleagues to the side where we could get to Uniqlo. We were surprised to find out though that the rest of the group was nowhere to be seen. We went to Shibuya Station but we could not find where Hachiko was so we decided to go back to Uniqlo since we know the meet-up place and time for regrouping.

We were able to meet up with the rest of the group a minute earlier than the call time, and Toshi-san led the way to the restaurant for our dinner. I was not able to get the name, but they had good sashimi (which I am not fond of so that says a lot) and grilled meat.

After dinner, we headed back to our hotel but a few of my colleagues decided to buy some drinks and snacks since the night was still young. LOL. Drinking session was in our room and ended late, even if we had to wake up early the next day.

Mount Fuji will be up in the next post!

 

LINKS TO OTHER TOKYO 2016 POSTS:

Tokyo, Day 1: Tofuro Restaurant, Hotel Monterey Akasaka, Gindaco Takoyaki

Tokyo, Day 3: Mt. Fuji, Komagatake Ropeway, Lake Ashi + Cruise

Tokyo, Day 4: Meiji Jingu, Imperial Palace, Sensoji Temple, Ueno Park

Tokyo, Day 5: Akihabara, Shibuya – Tokyu Hands, One Piece Mugiwara Store, Ichiran

Tokyo, Day 6: Tsukiji Market, Kawagoe, Maisen

Tokyo, Day 7: Revisiting Asakusa