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Saturday, June 10, 2017

#carmenxjapan Day 5: One day as a Tokyoite

You've probably realize that the previous few days were trips to nearby cities, have saved our last two days to really experience the bustling metropolitan of Tokyo which I have seen numerous times in anime, comics and even movies throughout my life. Honestly I can tell Tokyo might be a very stressful city to live in, but it's exactly why it is also the heaven of food and entertainment where Tokyoites get to destress. Besides that, checked out some of the iconic landmarks and historical sites. Finally, how could we forget shopping haha

Traveling around Tokyo 
We bought a 3-day Tokyo Metro Subway Pass which costs 1500yen. (1-day 800yen, 2-day 1200yen) The pass was used for the last 3 full days of our trip. I did find out how much would the tickets fare costs if no pass was used and I can confirm that it is cheaper to use the subway pass given that we use only subways to travel around. But I think the only drawback is that we had to take slightly longer routes for certain journeys in order to fully utilize the pass while there are actually shorter train routes by JR. The subway pass can be bought at the airport but we got ours at Shinjuku's tourist information center. You can also get the passes from Klook if you prefer to pay in SGD. 

Ueno Park 
Began our day with a morning walk at a public park smack in the middle of the urban city. Ueno Park has a zoo, temples and even museums. Instead of blooming cherry blossoms, the park was all in green. Can't say there's a lot of interesting sights to see, but I genuinely enjoyed walking around the park. I swear I've never walked in a park without sweating until I step foot on this park. The chilly weather, the slightest breeze, the lightly waving trees, the one word I can think of is....舒服 (pleasant) haha We didn't visit the museums anyway, something to do next time :D

FYI: this is how Ueno Park looks like during cherry blossom season
April would be a suitable time to visit

Kiyomizu Kannondo 清水観音堂

Hanazono Inari Shrine 花園稲荷神社

Shinobazu Pond 不忍池

some street food beside the pond

Ameya Yokocho
Just a short walk from Ueno Park is a market street filled with both locals and tourists. I find this place to be a very convenient place to shop because the shops are concentrated within the two streets and there's pretty much everything, from boutiques to drugstore till super marts. Loads to buy and the prices are much more affordable compared to offerings at Shibuya. Besides that, lots to eat as well. We love it so much that we returned in the evening for dinner and more shopping. 

Colorful bowls of Seafood Donburi for Lunch at Minato Ueno
Address: Japan, 〒110-0005 Tōkyō-to, Taitō-ku, Ueno, 4 Chome−10−17

Sitting right along the street

Tuna and Fatty Tuna (600yen)

Tuna, Salmon, Squid and Salmon Roe (750yen)

Uni, Salmon, Tuna, Shrimp, Scallop and Salmon Roe (1000yen)
They are not like super yummy, but being able to eat a plate-full of sashimi is such a joy haha. 

Takoyaki Balls

an interesting sight was this stretch of eateries and Izakaya's situated right below the railway tracks
every one of them are small and cozy

Chose a Tempura eatery right under the railway tracks for dinner (sorry i forgot its name)
sitting right in front of the kitchen, seeing the chef in action
GPS coordinates: 35.710977, 139.775028

Tempura Set with Shrimp, Vegetables and also a choice of your own meat (850yen)

TenDon (980yen)
Similar to the tempura set, but this is laid directly on top of the rice
super big portion, with shrimp, fish, mushrooms, veggies and egg

Sensoji Temple, Asakusa
Probably the most visited temple in Tokyo, a day at Sensoji feels like a fun festival. Exploring the ancient temple grounds, seeing others' sincere prayers, breathing in the awesome aroma of street food and shopping for that special something. 

Kimono Experience
To add on to our fun day, we got to wear beautiful kimonos to explore this historical site. It really is an experience, to wear the traditional garment of Japan, to try a signature cultural fashion. I don't know why and how, there's this odd magical sense of fun and joy, like 少女心爆发 haha. It's even fun when you have friends together, got this Sailor Moon squad kind of aura haha. Anyways we went to a Kimono rental shop nearby Asakusa station: Sakura Photo Studio and also within walking distance to Sensoji. We chose the cheapest option which includes kimono, bag, tabi socks and also a simple hairdo. If you made reservation on the day before or earlier, it will cost 3000 yen, but we paid a surcharge of 500 yen due to only making the reservation on the day itself. 

If you want the full experience, you may take the rickshaw to make your way to Sensoji

Before reaching the Kaminarimon (Thunder Gate), there's a stretch of shopping street known as Nakamise. Over here, you can find Japan's local products such as Yukata, craft work, snacks and even doraemon toys. Great place to shop for souvenirs. 

As you can see, this area is flooded by people

One of the memorable things during our day at Asakusa was the kind people who offered to help us take photos. This and the following two photos were taken by a Japanese Ojisan and he was pretty much the director who taught us how to pose LOLLLL 

Another weird yet unforgettable experience: tourists thinking that we were Japanese and requested to take photos with us. This wasn't the only group of people LOL Some asked for selfie as well, some took their DSLR and snapped us from 2 meters away. So if you wanna experience what it's like to be one day superstar, wear a kimono!

Sensoji is also a great spot to observe the Tokyo Sky Tree

Had loads of fun just enjoying the cool weather, taking photos at all these beautiful buildings, almost couldn't stop clicking the shutter haha. Was so reluctant to return to the kimono rental shop. You might say I'm superficial to be so happy with just taking photos, but it's because we are doing this together, feeling pretty together and smiling together.  

As night falls, time to continue the fun times. Had our dinner and shopped for another few hours at Ameya Yokocho. Went on to shop for some souvenir at Tokyo Station as well. Finally, head back home after a tired day of posing and scrambling through crowds at Sensoji. Back at home, we decided that we need to further unwind as well and I guess we really should experience the Izakaya culture in Japan. So we chose the Izakaya right below our BnB. Just a very small eatery with only 3 tables and several seats by the bar, super cozy. The best part is most of the food taste really good! 

馬肉料理 馬鹿うま 西新宿本店 
Location: Japan, 〒160-0023 Tōkyō-to, Shinjuku-ku, Nishishinjuku, 4 Chome−12−15

Even the stools are made from beer crates

Did you know? Horse meat is actually a norm in Tokyo? They call it Sakuraniku
And this Izakaya specializes in it!

Some snacks that we had. The photo on the bottom right is Horse meat grilled skewers and honestly, it's not something I'm used to. The horse meat is slightly grilled on the outside while the inside is still raw. There's a super strong smell that is as potent as mutton. I suppose a cooked horse meat will be a better option.  

Horse Meat Sausage
This tasted like usual pork sausage, great snack to go with beer. 

One of my favorites of the night. Tamago Egg Rolls
Looks simple but it taste great! Not sure how they do it, the egg roll is crunchy, but there's enough fluffiness for you to taste the sweetness of the egg. 

Best find of the night. Yakisoba with horse bacon strips. Really fell in love with the flavors of this fried noodle dish. The noodles are springy, salty, sweet and so damn fragrant. Really don't know what sorcery is this, so simple yet so yummy. We ordered a second serving haha. 

With the chilly weather, drinking beer that warms the body was such a pleasant experience, even non drinker like me truly enjoyed it. But again, most important is who you are with, the laughter, the chats. Whats even better, you can chat till late night, and go back to home in less than 2 mins and fall asleep like a boss. Everything was perfect, super syok! As I was walking along the streets of our neighborhood, there really are many small Izakaya's around. Sometimes I can't help but to wonder whether they can survive with such a small shop. But what I realize was every Izakaya does have their customers, they have their special offerings, there's no need to become a super famous shop. If I have more budget, wouldn't mind visiting one Izakaya every night haha. 

Syok day and night in Tokyo, next, 24 hours in Tokyo to shop till drop. 

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