Jul 23, 2017

Tokyo Day 6: Minato Mirai


We were initially planning to visit Tokyo Disney Sea or Tokyo Disneyland, but since it was too cold and I did not want to queue for rides, we looked for alternatives to do on our last full day in Japan, which happened to be my JM’s birthday.

My friend suggested we visit Minato Mirai 21, which is situated in Yokohama and a 40-minute train ride from Tokyo. We were glad that we did as we really enjoyed there. It was a different atmosphere compared to Tokyo’s busy streets and we were able to walk and enjoy the sight.

Minato Mirai 21, or simply Minato Mirai, translates to “Port of the Future in the 21st Century”. My guess is that when they started construction in 1983, this was how the Japanese people saw what Japan would look like in the 21st Century.


The funny thing is that for me, it looked very much different from the hustle and bustle of Tokyo. It has more of an old-city vibe for me, which I very much liked.
Upon exiting the train station, we walked towards the Cup Noodles Museum, letting you adore the magnificent skyline of Minato Mirai along the way. We also passed by Yokohama Cosmoworld, which has a giant Ferris Wheel. We were not able to ride any attractions though. 


Right beside Cosmoworld is the Cup Noodles Museum. Entrance is at 500 yen each, and there is a separate payment if you want to create your own cup noodles. We were not able to make our own cup noodles, as the next available slot was at 4pm which was too late for us. If you want to create your own cup noodles, better to reserve a slot in advance.


We spent an hour or so looking through the display at the Cup Noodles Museum. They also have a theater where they’ll show you the history of cup noodles. 

We learned that the founder, Momofuku Ando, wanted to address the food shortage in post-World War II Japan. He created ramen that could be cooked at home by only adding hot water. It took him a year to finally create the very first instant Chicken Ramen. It was only when he went to America when he noticed that people ate his instant ramen by breaking them, putting them in a cup and eating it with a fork. This gave him the idea to create the very first Cup Noodles - and as they say the rest was history. 


After the tour, we decided to have dinner and it was time to go back to our hotel and pack our things as we will be leaving early the next day to catch our flight.

Minato Mirai is probably my favorite part of our Japan adventure. Hoping to be back soon to see more of what Japan could offer.


Have you been to Japan? Let me know what can you recommend we do next time.
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Jun 18, 2017

Tokyo Day 5 - Tsukiji Fish Market and Meiji Shrine


Tsukiji Fish Market is the creme de la creme of palengkes (markets). They are known for their early morning seafood auctions, and tourists line up for hours to eat in the famous sushi restaurant there. However, JM and I were not ready to wake up in the wee hours of the morning to eat sushi so we settled for having lunch there instead.

You can easily get lost inside the market as there are a lot of things to see. We settled for a small sushi shop along the alley to have our lunch. We had some salmon, tuna and a platter of mixed sashimi. Everything tasted really good; I may be biased, as I really like eating sashimi. 
Tsukiji Fish Market
Tsukiji Fish Market
Tsukiji Fish Market
Tsukiji Fish Market
Tsukiji Fish Market
Tsukiji Fish Market
Tsukiji Fish Market
Tsukiji Fish Market
Tsukiji Fish Market
Tsukiji Fish Market
Tsukiji Fish Market
After lunch, we decided to try our luck again by visiting the Meiji Shrine so we hopped on the train to Harajuku. Upon reaching the station, we realized that it was already near the entrance of the Meiji Shrine compared to the route that we took on Day 2. It was a very cold day and it started to snow a little; coming from a tropical country, seeing ice fall from the sky is truly magical.

Meiji Shrine is dedicated to the late Emperor Meiji and his wife. It was quite a walk from the entrance to the actual shrine but there will be a lot of photo opportunities for you while walking, one of which is the famous barrels of sake. I tried to search a little and found out that the decoration of barrels (kazaridaru) signifies connection between gods and people in Japan.

There is no entrance fee to get to the shrine and it is open from sunrise to sunset with no closing days.

We spent a few hours looking around the complex and taking in the sights. We left just before dark and went back to Takeshita Street for some shopping. 
Meiji Shrine Entrance
Meiji Shrine Entrance
Meiji Shrine Entrance
Meiji Shrine Entrance
Meiji Shrine Sake Barrels
Meiji Shrine Sake Barrels
Meiji Shrine Tokyo
Meiji Shrine Tokyo
Meiji Shrine Tokyo
Meiji Shrine Tokyo
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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.

Asakusa


Asakusa

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. 

Odaiba-Rainbow-Bridge
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.

Odaiba-Gundam
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.




Toyota-Megaweb
My husband at one of displayed cars

Toyota-Megaweb-FJ-Cruiser
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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