Monday, May 23, 2016

Japan: Around Tokyo

If you think Sydney is a bustling metropolitan city, wait until you walk into Tokyo. To describe Tokyo in one word is almost impossible as each angle of it varies from the other.

Our day usually starts with hopping onto the subway line (of which, makes travelling across the different suburbs superbly easy) and despite being packed like a can of sardines in the subway, we strangely enough, did not feel uncomfortable at all. Maybe because everyone is respectful towards each other and did not make any attempts at causing a ruckus? No talking on mobile phones, please!

Our first stop in Tokyo was Shibuya, not for shopping but for grabbing our 3 day tourist subway tickets from Bic Camera. These subway tickets will save you heaps of money if you intend on travelling around Tokyo for a few days.

Shibuya - shopping, shopping, shopping. One thing I really liked about shopping in Japan is the number of feminine attires available and workmanship is topnotch. Only downside is the sizing which caters more for the petite Asian frames (sizes from UK4 to UK6, I believe). Upon exiting the Shibuya station, you will be greeted by the statue of Hachiko, the famous canine who spent all his life waiting for his master to return from the train station.

There are abundant of gardens or parks around Tokyo and there is an entrance fee for most of them. These parks exude a very zen mode - strolling around these places seems to have helped me clear my mind a lot better as compared to my usual jogging sessions.

We were fortunate to visit Japan during the sakura season. This is symbolic time as it represents a new phase of one's life and it is a highly regarded festive time of the year.

We then visited Meiji Shrine, also located in Shibuya. Entry here is free and despite the large crowd of tourists and locals alike, there is enough space for everyone to have a leisurely walk around the shrine.

The empty barrels of sake (kazaridaru/ decorative barrels) which represents the donations from sake brewers to the shrines during festive seasons.

One can easily see wooden plaques located in the shrine. These are wishes/ prayers from visitors.

Day 2 in Tokyo begun with a quick trip to Tsukiji market, one of the most important fish markets in Tokyo. We arrived at around 10am and gosh, was it already packed full of people. You can certainly grab breakfast here but we thought it was more so a tourist trap. Prices are not exactly cheap and in terms of quality, let's just say I was not exactly blown away. But that's just my humble, personal opinion.

Asakusa temple, located in Asakusa is Tokyo's oldest temple and is surrounded by Nakamise, a shopping street. Lots of souvenirs ranging from food items to dainty, decorative pieces to clothing items - something for everyone.

Along the way, we stumbled upon this melon pan stall which seemingly enough, appears to have been frequented by famous celebrities. Inexpensive and fluffy light snack it was:)

Ok, the both of us are equally guilty at probing each other to try out the various tantalizing snacks that greeted our eyes as we waltzed around the temple. Taiyaki is a fish shaped cake that can be filled with red bean paste or custard or ice cream. Best served piping hot and enjoyed on a cool day.

Roppongi is yet another upbeat part of Tokyo that is also known to be seedy at night. Lots of bars and pubs here so if you are seeking adventure, why not head here?

Akihibara is the electronic/ anime part of Tokyo. If you are looking for a particular comic book, figurine or electronic game, chances are you will find it here. Lots of gachapon machines located along the way and even more intricately crafted figurine shops. Name any manga character that you can think of and I am sure you will see that character along the way.

Last but not least, Tokyo tower. Located in the governmental area of Tokyo, it was a bit of a hassle to get to considering that we stayed in the west side of Tokyo. Nonetheless, it was a pretty sight to view at night and if I do visit Tokyo again, I will definitely consider a trip up:)

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