May 21, 2017

Tokyo Day 4: Asakusa and Odaiba

During our walks from the hotel to Kamata station, we always pass by the Ota City office which has a huge digital thermometer outside. Day four was the coldest day that we experienced in Tokyo. The temperature when we went out in the morning was 2.7 degrees Celsius, dropping to 1.5 degrees Celsius on our way back to the hotel. We experienced sleet (rain with snow) while we were in Asakusa and it was raining hard while we were in Odaiba.

Ota City
So cold!
This did not stop us from pursuing our planned itinerary though. With multiple layers of clothes and jackets, we braved the cold and hopped on the train towards Asakusa.

Tokyo Subway
Train's here
Asakusa is the home of the famous Senso-ji temple, which is a popular Buddhist temple. It is also the oldest temple in Tokyo, built in 645 AD.



In front of the temple are rows of shops selling food and souvenir items. We got a geisha doll and Japanese art for a reasonable price.

We found another branch of Ichiran ramen on our way to the train station. Since we loved it the first time we tried it in Shinjuku, we queued up in a heartbeat and slurped our hot bowls of ramen on this very cold day.

Ichiran Ramen
A bowl of hot ramen on a very cold day
Odaiba is an artificial island, connecting to Tokyo via the Rainbow Bridge. We took the Yurikamome monorail train line from Shimbashi to Daiba. 

Rainbow bridge as seen from the monorail
It was still raining when we reached Odaiba, so we were unable to explore the outside area. We headed to the Diver City mall for the famous life-size RX-78-2 Gundam. Good thing I was able to see the eighteen-meter-tall Gundam before they took it down last March.

Me, gundam and my pink payong
RX-78-2 Gundam
RX-78-2 Gundam at night

JM, being a car guy ever since, will not miss the opportunity to visit Toyota MegaWeb - dubbed as the car theme park to ‘Look’, ‘Ride’ and ‘Feel’ automobiles. So we braved the rain and walked over to the opposite building. It was funny though that Google Maps pointed us to a long route going to the MegaWeb building when it was just right behind Diver City.
We started the tour at the History Garage before heading down to the Toyota City Showcase. Surprisingly, I did enjoy the tour but my husband delighted in all the cars on display.

My husband at one of displayed cars

Feeling the vibes of the FJ Cruiser
After the car tour, we had some okonomiyaki for dinner and head back to the hotel to rest.
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May 10, 2017

Tokyo Day 3: Ueno Park and Akihabara

From doing a city tour yesterday, we decided to visit Tokyo’s famous Ueno Park. 

Ueno Park prides its rows of cherry blossom trees during springtime. However, we were in Tokyo last February, which is still considered as wintertime, and most of the trees have not yet bloomed. We were still lucky enough to see a few trees which had started to bloom already. 

I can just imagine how magnificent the park will look like in spring.
Ueno Park
Cherry Blossom Japan
Ueno Park
Ueno Park
Ueno Park
Ueno Park
Cherry Blossom
Ueno Park
Ueno Park
Ueno Park
Ueno Park
Cherry Blossom
We spent half a day at the park, just walking around and taking in the scenery. I wish Manila had more parks like this, where families can unwind and bond together after a full week of work. 

There is also a zoo inside the park, which we decided to skip.

By noon, we headed to Akihabara, which is famous for electronics and toys. JM got a few Gundam plastic model kits, and we bought some scale model cars for my brother.
While walking in Akihabara, we came across a small stall selling Pablo mini cheesecakes. I got the classic flavor and JM got matcha flavor. The cheesecake is so soft that it melts in your mouth. I liked the classic flavor; the matcha flavor, not so much.
Pablo Cheesecake
Pablo Cheesecake
Pablo Cheesecake
It was starting to get dark when we decided to call it a day and get back to the hotel.
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May 9, 2017

Tokyo Day 2: Shinjuku, Harajuku and Shibuya

After having a good night’s sleep the previous night, we woke up full of energy as we prepared for our first touristy day in Tokyo.

Our first stop was Shinjuku, one of the major economic hubs in Tokyo. Before boarding the train, we bought a Suica card (similar to Singapore’s EZ link card) which you can use to ride Tokyo’s mass transportations. 

Suica card
From Kamata, we boarded the JR Keihin-Tohoku/Negishi Line Local for OMIYA and transferred at Shinagawa. We then transferred to JR Yamanote Line (Outer loop) for OSAKI and got off at Shinjuku. 

While walking around Shinjuku, we came across Bicqlo which is a collaboration of the electronics store BIC Camera and clothing giant Uniqlo. The first floor and all other floors above ground are Uniqlo, and the lower floors sell Bicqlo’s electronic products.

In front of Bicqlo Shinjuku
I was complaining to JM about the lens cap of my camera, which you need to take off every time you are going to shoot, which is why he suggested for us to buy an Olympus LC-37C auto lens cap and Bicqlo was just the right place. 

There is also a bike shop that JM wanted to see, so we walk further to Y’s Road, which is a large chain of local bike shops. It had expanded compared to JM’s previous trip in 2014, the two nearby shops now growing into three in the same building. One was dedicated for road and mountain bikes and servicing; another for the recently popular cyclocross and adventure/gravel bike segment, and a last one called “Wear” which is solely for cycling-related apparel like shoes, jerseys, shorts, and rain jackets.

Bikes everywhere

My husband trying to decide which one to get
After some more walking around Shinjuku, we decided to head to Harajuku for lunch. We took the JR Yamanote Line (Inner loop) for OSAKI and got off at Harajuku. 

Just right beside the signage of Takeshita Street is Yoshinoya. Since JM and I are fans of this fast food joint, we decided to have our lunch there. After lunch we walked around Takeshita Street which is famous for all things kawaii

Freezing in Takeshita Street
There are also a lot of stores selling Anello bags which are very popular in Manila and Singapore nowadays.
There are also some cosplayers walking around while we were there. Takeshita Street is also famous for its crepes. 

Cold weather plus warm crepe is just the perfect combination while in Harajuku. 

Choosing which crepe to buy
Japanese girl cooking some crepes
While in Harajuku, we wanted to visit Meiji Shrine so we consulted Google Maps and it pointed us to a long route. Unfortunately when we reached the gate it was already closed for the day. 

The long route to Meiji Shrine
However, something amazing came out from this long route that we took: We came across a couple of cherry blossom trees which are already starting to bloom - in the middle of February, a good two weeks before the established “sakura season.” I can still remember asking JM if the flowers were fake. But when we touched the flowers they were definitely real. 

So pretty!
Since it was starting to get dark already, we decided to head to Shibuya. We hopped on the JR Yamanote Line (Inner loop) for OSAKI again and alight at Shibuya to see the famous Hachiko statue and the Shibuya Scramble crossing.

Shibuya Scramble Crossing
It was getting so cold and windy while we were in Shibuya so after dinner, we decided to call it a day and headed back to our hotel in Kamata.
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